During the spring and early autumn you can visit the exciting city of Birka. Visit the island from the 700s and feel like a Viking! There are almost 3,000 visible graves at the site. There are several different types of graves that contain either fire or skeletal burials. Many of the finds from the graves tell us that society was characterized by a strong hierarchy and large differences between both class and gender.
It was probably the King of Sweden who decided that Birka should be built (at the end of the eighth century) in order to control trade in northern Scandinavia. Trade took place here with Arabic silver, ceramics, Eastern European pearls and silk. In exchange, they received furs, hides and iron from Scandinavia. The word Birka may have originated from the older Swedish "birk" which means castle or trading place. About 700-1000 people are believed to have lived in Birka when the city was at its largest. The silver you exchanged for yourself was melted down to be turned into jewelry. Many silver jewelery was found during excavations from most of the tombs at the site..
Their simple house was on the beach. A major work that started several years ago was to reconstruct a city district with associated plots. Today you can go into the village and feel a little like a Viking and understand a little more what it was like to live and live here.
The Benedictine monk Ansgar came to Birka on a couple of occasions. His mission was to convert the pagan people to Christianity. His goals were fulfilled to a small extent - some became Christians but many retained their old Nordic gods. Today you can see a memorial to the event with the monk Ansgar, a large stone cross that was erected in 1834, the Ansgar cross on the hill within the old ancient castle on Björkö .
Birka is abandoned
The village was abandoned for unknown reasons in the late 900s. There are various theories as to why it was abandoned. Could it have been a political decision or that the land uplift at this time meant that Birka was no longer such a strategically good place. There are about 3000 graves on the island.
Excavations in Birka
One of the largest finds at Birka comes from one of Hjalmar Stolpe's excavations during the late 19th century. He found a large silver treasure with about 450 Islamic silver coins. He also found most of the silver jewelry that lay on an iron barrel.
Hjalmar was actually going to Björkö to study insects in amber - when he was originally an entomologist (science of insects). During his excavations, he found graves, objects, etc. from the Viking city. He worked for a total of about 20 years with excavations on Björkö. You can see a lot of his finds at the Historical Museum in Stockholm.