At Birka you can feel like a real Viking, but not in terms of becoming a savage seafarer of course. Here, you can stroll around the Viking houses in our Viking village, which is built exactly as the houses in the Viking Age. You can also visit our skilled craftsmen that are using the same techniques and tools that Birkas residents did once upon a time.
The craftsmen are here during our theme weeks “Vikings at Birka” in July. Take a look at our calendar for more information.
The black soil tells the story of Birka
Since the houses were built of wood is no ruins, but based on previous archaeological excavations and with the help of the so-called black soil, we know quite a lot about how the city was built.
Black soil is traces that the prolonged settlement is leaving in the ground. Within archaeology such areas give a good indication of what the buildings looked like and how long a site has been urbanized.
During the Viking Age a family of 6-10 people lived in each house. The Vikings earned a living as craftsmen or traders. The houses consisted of one large room where they both lived and slept and one room used as a workshop or storage. To have the whole family in the same room created both safety and warmth.
The houses in the excavated area had a lifespan in between 2.5 to 15 years, which by today’s standards would be an incredibly bad investment. The short lifespan was mostly caused of fires, rot, roof leaks or economic reasons.
Our reconstructions of Viking houses are based on the knowledge obtained during excavations made on the island and on previous knowledge on house building in the Viking Age.
Everything starts over
In 2006 we started the work with building up the Viking village again. We built one wooden house with switching technique and one house structure using braiding and clay. In 2007-2009, we expanded the urban environment with three new houses built in collaboration with the University of Gotland. In 2010 we started to decorate our houses, and after that, we continued our efforts to build a clear plot structure in the neighborhood. Between the plots are smaller streets and larger passageways down to the harbor-just as the city looked before.
A project driven by passion
The reconstruction work is led by experts and craftsmen and it’s funded by Stömma in collaboration with Gotland University. The group’s mission is to ensure that the reconstructions are in line with current research and archaeological excavations on the island. Our passionate team of experts consists of Björn Ambrosiani, Lena Holmqvist Olausson, Dan Carlsson and Magnus Sjöholm.
Vikings at Birka 9-30 July