Viking Age sites

Eastern Settlement

The Eastern Settlement (Eystribyggð) was the first and largest of the three areas of Norse Greenland, settled c. AD 985 by Norsemen from Iceland. At its peak, it contained approximately 4,000 inhabitants. The last written record from the Eastern Settlement is of a wedding solemnized in 1408, placing it about 50–100 years later than the end of the more northern Western Settlement. Despite its name, the Eastern S ...
Founded: 985 AD | Location: Eastern Settlement, Greenland

Hovgården

Hovgården is an archaeological site on the Lake Mälaren island of Adelsö. During the Viking Age, the centre of the prospering Mälaren Valley was the settlement Birka, founded in the mid-8th century and abandoned in the late 10th century and located on the island Björkö just south of Adelsö. Hovgården is believed to have been the site from where kings and chieftains ruled the area. ...
Founded: ca. 100-1520 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Brattahlíð

Brattahlíð, often anglicised as Brattahlid, was Erik the Red"s estate in the Eastern Settlement Viking colony he established in south-western Greenland toward the end of the 10th century. Erik and his descendants lived there until late in the 15th century. The name Brattahlíð means 'the steep slope'. At Brattahlíð stood probably the first church in the New World: Þj&oa ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Qassiarsuk, Greenland

Kvitsøy Stone Cross

The famous Kvitsøy Stone Cross was erected between 800–1050 AD. Some say it was put there by English missionaries in the 900s while others claim it was raised by Erling Skjalgsson and Olav Haraldsson, Viking chiefs, in 1016. There are a number of large stone crosses along the west coast of the Norway. Kvitsøy is first mentioned in the Snorre Saga, where Snorre records a truce being made between King Ol ...
Founded: 800 - 1050 AD | Location: Kvitsøy, Norway

Kvívík

Kvívík is one of the oldest settlements in the Faroes and excavations have shown the remains of Viking houses. Excavations prove that it dates back over 1,000 years probably to the 10th century, when a Viking longhouse and barn were built beside a small river flowing through a valley to the sea. House and barn stood at the point where the river entered the sea. Both the longhouse and its barn are unique. Th ...
Founded: 900-1000 AD | Location: Stykkið, Faroe Islands

Ladby Ship

Ladby Ship is Denmark's only ship grave from the Viking period. Around 925 AD, the king of Ladby was buried in his ship, which was 21.5 meters long and 3 meters wide. A burial mound was raised above the ship. His grave was furnished with all his fine possessions, including 11 horses and 3 or 4 dogs. In the bow of the ship lies the original anchor and anchor chain. Unfortunately, the grave was plundered back in the Viking ...
Founded: c. 925 AD | Location: Kerteminde, Denmark

Aggersborg

Aggersborg is the largest of Denmark's former Viking ring castles, and one of the largest archeological sites in Denmark. It consisted of a circular rampart surrounded by a ditch. Four main roads arranged in a cross connected the castle centre with the outer ring. The roads were tunnelled under the outer rampart, leaving the circular structure intact. The ring castle had an inner diameter of 240 metres. The ditch was loc ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Logstor, Denmark

Gnezdovo

Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The settlement declined in the early years of the 11th century, simultaneously with other Varangian trade stations in Eastern Europe. By the end of the century, Gnyozdovo"s importance as a trade centre had been completely s ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Gnyozdovo, Russia

Gamleborg Viking Fortress

Gamleborg, also known as Gamleborg Viking Fortress, was the first fortress on the Danish island of Bornholm. Built around 750 AD, it was the seat of the kings of Bornholm during the Viking age (750–1050) and early Middle Ages (1050–1150). The massive fortress is 264 metres long from north to south and 110 metres wide from east to west, with gates to the north and southwest. Around 1100, significant alterations ...
Founded: 750 AD | Location: Bornholm, Denmark

Tinnumburg

Tinnumburg is the best preserved of the three ancient ring forts in Sylt. The fort was built around the birth of Christ. The rampart has a diameter of 120 meters. The wall is up to seven meters high and has a circumference of about 440 meters. The castle had at least two gates (east and south). Excavations in 1870, 1948 and 1976 provided evidence that the Tinnumburg was built in the style of early Roman Empire round ramp ...
Founded: 0 AD | Location: Sylt, Germany

Karlevi Runestone

The Karlevi Runestone, designated as Öl 1 by Rundata, is commonly dated to the late 10th century. It is one of the most notable and prominent runestones and constitutes the oldest record of a stanza of skaldic verse. The runic inscription on the Karlevi Runestone is partly in prose, partly in verse. It is the only example of a complete scaldic stanza preserved on a runestone and is composed in the "lordly meter" the dr ...
Founded: ca. 950-1000 AD | Location: Mörbylånga, Öland, Sweden

Trelleborgen Viking Fortress

Trelleborg is a collective name for six Viking Age circular forts, located in Denmark and the southern part of modern Sweden. Five of them have been dated to the reign of the Harold Bluetooth of Denmark (died 986). The city of Trelleborg has been named after one of these fortresses. Today Trelleborgen is part of a Viking Age fortress complex, which has been reconstructed. There is a Viking musem with souvenir shop ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Lembecksburg

Lembecksburg was a medieval ring wall with a diameter of 95 meters and a height of ten meters. According to old lore, it was constructed in the 9th century as a stronghold against the Vikings and is named after the knight Klaus Lembeck who had allegedly been residing there as a steward of king Valdemar IV of Denmark in the 14th century. After breaking his feudal oath, though, Lembeck is said to have been besieged by the k ...
Founded: 9-10th century AD | Location: Borgsum, Germany

Rurikovo Gorodische

Rurikovo Gorodische (Рюриково городище, in Scandinavian sources known as Holmgård) is a settlement, an archaeological site of the 9th century in front of Yuriev Monastery. Including known as the residence of the princes of Novgorod, which is connected with the names of many famous political figures of ancient Russia. Set ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Hulterstad Viking Burial Ground

Hulterstad has served as a Viking burial ground. Noteworthy graveyards can be found there, together with the usual Viking structure - the burial ship. It stands a few meters away from the Hulterstad Church, which is believed to be as old as the graveyard. The burial ground comprises over 170 individual burials but only one stone ship, which is also partially damaged. Hulterstad is situated on the western fringe of the Sto ...
Founded: 800-1000 AD | Location: Mörbylånga, Sweden

Danevirke

The Danevirke is a system of Danish fortifications. This important linear defensive earthwork across the neck of the Cimbrian peninsula, was initiated by the Danes in the Nordic Iron Age at some point before 500 AD. It was later expanded multiple times during Denmark"s Viking Age. The Danevirke was last used for military purposes in 1864 during the Second War of Schleswig. The Danevirke stretches for 30 km, from the ...
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Kleindannewerk, Germany

Grobina Burial Ground

Very little evidence of, Scandinavian settlement has been found in the eastern Baltic area, outside of the towns and trading places which grew up along the shores of the Baltic Sea in the pre-Viking and Viking periods. One such was Grobina in modern Latvia. Grobina seems to have been a centre of Scandinavian settlement on the Baltic Sea coast. It has a fort and at least three cemeteries containing grave goods of central S ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Grobiņa, Latvia

Landnamsgaarden

People have lived in the current Narsaq area for thousands of years, but not continuously. Remains of the Norse settlement can be found in the area. The church ruins of Dyrnes can be found on the north-western outskirts of the town. The Landnám homestead, Landnamsgaarden, can be found immediately to the west of the town. Dated to the year 1000, the homestead is among the oldest of the Norse ruins in the area. The w ...
Founded: 1000 AD | Location: Narsaq, Greenland

Sarskoye Gorodishche

Sarskoye Gorodishche or Sarsky fort was a medieval fortified settlement. Major Varangian finds at Sarskoye date from ca. 800 onward, indicating that it was a major (perhaps the most important) trade station on the Volga trade route between Scandinavia and Baghdad. Traces of a bath, an iron foundery, a potter"s workshop and a jeweller"s shop were encountered. There were two hoards of early 9th-century dirhams. An ...
Founded: 800 AD | Location: Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia

Gettlinge Stone Ship Burial Ground

Gettlinge is a village in the southwest portion of the island of Öland It is known for its impressive Viking stone ship burial ground. Gettlinge is situated on the western fringe of the Stora Alvaret, a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO. The principal evidence of life in the Gettlinge area from 1000 BC to 1000 AD is derived from the gravefields themselves. The Gettlinge burial ground is situated near the coas ...
Founded: 1000 BC-1000 AD | Location: Morbylånga, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.