Kaupang was a Norse term for market-place. Today, it is generally used as a name of the first town-like market-place in Norway, the Kaupang in Skiringssal, which is located in Tjølling near Larvik. Kaupang was an important merchant and craft center during the Viking period and as yet the first known Norwegian trading outpost.

Kaupang was founded in the 780s and abandoned for unknown reasons in the early 10th century. It was situated on a beach by Viksfjord in Larvik municipality. Documentary sources indicate that the area was an important royal seat in the 700s and 800s.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the site might have been the first proto-urban settlement of some significance in Norway. The excavations which have been conducted at Kaupang have found evidence for a handicraft and commercial center, with around 1,000 inhabitants. The settlement had diverse craft production and extensive trade with foreign countries. Commodities traded included iron, soapstone and perhaps fish.

In 1867 Nicolay Nicolaysen conducted the first excavations of the area, mapping one of the grave-fields around the settlement and excavating 79 grave mounds. He also uncovered a cremation cemetery, largely dated to the 10th century. Charlotte Blindheim started excavating in 1947 and completed her last publication in 1999, and Dagfinn Skre and his associates undertook a new program of work at Kaupang in 1997.

In the summer of 2000 the Institute for Archaeology, Conservation and Historical Studies at the University of Oslo began a new excavation program at Kaupang, under the direction of Dagfinn Skre, which ran until 2002, and a smaller excavation was conducted in Kaupang's harbour area in 2003. In total, four possible houses were uncovered, as were a number of hearths, pits and postholes. Following the excavations, scholars worked on analysing both artefacts and environmental samples from the excavations.

The results from the post-excavation work has been published in a series of three books, the first of which became available in 2007, the last being published in 2011. Many of the approximately 100,000 finds from excavations have been on display at the University of Oslo, including Arab silver coins, gold coin from Dorestad, hundreds of glass beads, jewelry of gold and bronze, pottery, weapons and tools.

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Address

Lamøya 8, Larvik, Norway
See all sites in Larvik

Details

Founded: 780 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Norway

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ocean (4 months ago)
Very interesting pity not it is more developed
Linda Huseby (4 months ago)
Professionally skilled employees here?
Elisabeth Sundby (6 months ago)
Norway's first city from the Viking Age. Unique international attraction. Run by volunteers with little money, but now a completely new exhibition is set up and in the summer of 2021 there are funds to conduct courses for children and young people in archery, tar burning etc. completely free ?
Halvor Bergan (16 months ago)
Great historic place. Could have made more out of the exhibition
Halvor Bergan (16 months ago)
Great historic place. Could have made more out of the exhibition
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