Birka Town: Trade Center Ruins Became World Heritage

If you are a Viking enthusiast, chances are that you have come across the Birka grave of female warriors. But what is actually Birka town in the Viking Age?

A town was born for political purpose

Around the mid 700s, a new city was established on Bjorko in Lake Malaren. We know it by the name “Birka”. Scholars now usually call it the first town of Sweden. The word “Birka” refers to the “Birch Island”.

Viking Birka town
Birka town was located in an important spot that facilitated both economic and political growth

From the beginning, the city was formed thanks to a Swedish king. His motive was to form a town from which he could control the trade from northern Scandinavia. So the town was a result of both politics-driven and economics-driven purpose.

The King didn’t live inside the town, however. He lived a few miles away from which he would keep the order in the cit and protect his town from any enemies.

Perfect spot on the map

Birka is now considered as one of the most perfect spot for trades in the Viking Age. Tradesmen came to Birka with goods and commodities from regions across Europe and other parts of the world. Excavations in Birka always excite us to the core because all of them consist of precious artifacts from different areas outside Scandinavia.

Artifact excavated from Viking Birka Town
Artifact excavated from Viking Birka Town

Some sources told us that in the beginning, Birka was just a seasonal town where people would gather during certain times. As time progressed, it became an important trading center and people started to settle down there. This answers the question why there are so many graves in Birka. The Vikings back to that time lived inside simple houses that were built along the docks. This though facilitated the process of trade could present some dangers from external forces.

The city flourished for roughly 200 years with great economic boost as well as political protection.

From the Trade Center to Graveyard

Those who had been living in Birka town started to abandon the town after 200-year flourish of it. They moved to another town nearby. The reasons for this movement included political instability and town’s loss of accessible location.

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