HANDCRAFTED HISTORY

Living at Birka

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In the beginning of August I took my camp equipment and moved to Björkön for a long viking-weekend. I had such a wonderful time, and wanted to show you some great photos and inspire you to maybe travel there yourself, when the world allows.

As many of you fellow viking-nerds know, Björkö was the place were the viking city Birka was situated, and it is very beautifully situated outside Stockholm, in Mälaren (so it is in the inner archipelago, not towards the sea) which makes for a great climate. Wild apples and cherry trees grows over the island, and sheep grass the ancient hills, grave mounds and ancient monuments still visible from the viking era.

There are still lots of grave mounds left as they were, but also a museum, a newly built experimental viking village with boats tied to it’s pier, and good paths to stroll to different sites on the island. As you can imagine, I got quite excited when asked to join some friends there!


When the sun set, we took a stroll around the pasture lands, enjoying the view over the water and the surrounding islands, with a small picnic basket with us. The path took us over viking age grave mounds, past the Black Earth (were the city Birka was situated) and toward the Homelands. When darkness came, we returned to the village to lit a fire, and enjoy the company of each other.

The village is built as an experimental viking settlement which allows a viking group to actually live in the houses, tend the gardens and the buildings, as well as sleep, cook and go around their daily life there- as well as greeting modern visitors during the day time. Not everything is 100% accurate with what we know about the daily viking life, but things get mended, rebuilt and used in a historical way, with old tools and knowledge (but modern safety measures…)

It was so cozy going around the settlement, with the sound of cooking and woodworking, the smell of fire and tar, and vikings going around their day tending to their business. I brought my market stall and tent, setting it up with a nice view over the water, were I spent some time drinking coffe and chatting about all things viking age. I also held a lecture about clothing and dress in the viking society, inside the interesting museum on site

My friends Joel and Josefin took me on a guided tour since they hade been here before, and we went to see the excavations going on near the shore a short walk away. This was so interesting and I learned a lot about archeology (which seems to be such a hard job, working on your knees for hours, patiently digging through the ground.) It was also very clear how much the field has developed since the early reports, that we base much of our understanding on when recreating viking age. I look forward to the reports from this excavation!

Outfit of the day; linen shift, apron dress in woolen diamond twill inspired by the Köstrup find, woolen shawl and tortoise brooches to fasten the outfit with.

In the photo below, I just have the blue dress and loose hair, feeling a bit undressed, but also happy to finally be cool enough…

I spent the days in the market stall selling some viking things, or strolling around with new friends in the museum, out in the landscape or by the fire. This was just what I needed after a summer of staying-at-home, and even though we weren’t many it felt really good to be outside again, doing things I love.

If you want to know more about how to visit Birka, here’s a link with useful info, there’s some lovely boat trips during the summer which will let you stay to see the interesting bits and take a swim before going back.

Author: Linda at Handcrafted History

I am Linda, running the blog and business Handcrafted History and living in the middle of Sweden

One thought on “Living at Birka

  1. I can’t wait for the day I can visit Birka! And I loooooooooooove your blue dress. 🙂

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