Viking Age sites

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

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

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

Borre Mounds

Borre mound cemetery (Borrehaugene) is an exceptional large area of burial mounds in Scandinavia. Today, seven large mounds and one cairn can be seen. At least two mounds and one cairn have been destroyed in modern times. There are also 25 smaller cairns and the cemetery may have been larger. Some of the monuments are over 45m in diameter and up to 6m high. Borrehaugene provides important historical knowledge and can be s ...
Founded: 600-900 AD | Location: Borre, Norway

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

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

Oseberghaugen

Oseberghaugen is a Viking era burial mound. The Oseberg ship was found in the Oseberg burial mound in 1904. This Viking longship is now in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Archaeological excavations in 1904 uncovered history"s largest and richest example of craftmanship from the Viking Age. In addition to the Oseberg ship, Oseberghaugen contained the Oseberg carriage, five beautifully carved bed-posts shaped like anim ...
Founded: 834 AD | Location: Tønsberg, Norway

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

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

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

Søndre Hella

At Søndre Hella is a restored burial ground with over 20 graves from the Late Iron Ages, ca. 500-1000 AD.
Founded: 500-1000 AD | Location: Nøtterøy, Norway

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

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

Lejre

Lejre was the capital of an Iron Age kingdom sometimes referred to as the Lejre Kingdom. According to early legends, this was ruled by kings of the Skjöldung dynasty, predecessors of the kings of medieval Denmark. Legends of the kings of Lejre are known from a number of medieval sources, including the twelfth-century Gesta Danorum written by Saxo Grammaticus and the anonymous twelfth-century Chronicon Lethrense, or Chron ...
Founded: 550 - 1000 AD | Location: Lejre, Denmark

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

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

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

Western Settlement

The Western Settlement (Vestribyggð) was a group of farms and communities established by Norsemen from Iceland around AD 985 in medieval Greenland. Despite its name, the Western Settlement was more north than west of its companion and located at the head of the long Nuup Kangerlua fjord (inland from Nuuk, the present Greenlandic capital). At its peak, the Western Settlement probably had about 1,000 inhabitants, about ...
Founded: 985 AD | Location: Western Settlement, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.