No horned helmets for vikings, according to this archelogoist.

No horned helmets for vikings, according to this archelogoist. We stand on a viking graveyard.

Birka is thought to be the oldest town in Scandinavia.

It was  established in the eighth century on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren.

According to the archeologist cum viking guide, the viking city of Birka was an important trading center.

In it heyday, it had 1000 inhabitants.  From this island rowed many viking ships out for war and trade.

In the tenth century, Birka was abandoned for Sigtuna, which became the first capital of Sweden. (Sigtuna – that’s the area I cover as a journalist.)

Birka has a museum highlighting the viking lifestyle. Archeologists dress up as vikings and guide visitors around the meadowy island.

There is a certain part, a vast meadow with many mounds, that is actually a huge viking graveyard.

Illustration of Birka in its heyday.

Illustration of Birka in its heyday.

Birka is also where Christianity started in Sweden. The monk Ansgar arrived in the ninth century and started with his conversion work.

I came to Birka by boat from Sigtuna in 2015. I wrote a report about it and the two-hour boat trip to the island for our newspaper.

Related story:

This link shows a viking farm where I saw norse gods: “Documentary film shooting at viking farm”.