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Viking Sites

Archaeological Ruins of the Vikings

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The Vikings spread across Europe, and arrived as far east as Russia and as far west as the Canadian Atlantic shore. Here are a handful of the archaeological sites left behind by these ultimate travelers. This list is part of the About.com Guide to the Viking Age.

Oseberg (Norway)

Oseberg Boat Grave
© Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo / Eirik Irgens Johnsen
Oseberg is a 9th century boat grave, where two elderly, elite women were placed into a ceremonially constructed Viking oaken karvi. The grave goods and age of the women have suggested to some scholars that one of the women is the legendary Queen Asa, a suggestion which has yet to find archaeological evidence to support it.

Oseberg's main issue today is one of conservation: how to preserve the many delicate artifacts despite a century under some less-than-ideal preservation techniques.

Ridanas (Sweden)

Ridanäs is the name of a Viking settlement which was based on the island of Gotland, Sweden between the 6th and 12th centuries AD. The settlement spans the time of great change among Scandinavian peoples, when the residents of the site gradually gave up their pagan past and accepted Christian ideological tenets and religious practices.

Ribe (Denmark)

The town of Ribe in Jutland, Denmark, celebrated its 1300th anniversary. Founded between 704 and 710 AD it is believed to be the oldest city in Scandinavia.

Dorestad (The Netherlands)

Dorestad was not a Viking village: but it was one of their favorite targets in the 830s AD. A Medieval coastal trading village, harbor and cemetery located in the delta region of the Rhine and Maas rivers in the Netherlands, Dorestad was occupied between about 675-875 AD, when it was the capital of the Frisians (or Friesland) of Germany and the Netherlands.

Cuerdale Hoard (United Kingdom)

The Cuerdale Hoard is a cache of over 8,000 pieces of Viking silver, discovered in a farm in Lancashire, England in 1840. Based on the dates of the coins within the hoard itself, it was buried in this location between AD 905 and 910.

Áth Cliath (Ireland)

Áth Cliath is a Viking longphort: a fort built from the body of a Viking long ship. Its establishment on the Irish coast allowed the Viking to continue their raidings unhindered by the locals: and eventually the town of Dublin grew up around it.

Beginish (Ireland)

Another Irish site, Beginish is a small island in the Irish Sea between Valentia Island and the Iveragh peninsula, in County Kerry, Ireland, where in the 10th and 12th centuries the Vikings established a settlement.

Hofstaðir (Iceland)

Hofstaðir is the name of a chiefly Viking residence in northeastern Iceland, with a large hall used for ritual feasting and events. Despite several oral history reports, evidence of a pagan temple has not been located. Radiocarbon dates on animal bone range between 1030-1170 RCYBP.

Hrísbrú (Iceland)

In the Mosfell valley of Iceland is Hrísbrú, an elite Viking period farmstead located a few kilometers from the capital of Reykjavik. The site includes the ruins of a traditional Viking Age longhouse dated ~790-1100 AD, a church and an associated Christian cemetery and pagan cremation site.

Garðar (Greenland)

Garðar is the name of a Viking age estate within the Eastern Settlement of Greenland. A settler named Einar who came with Erik the Red in 983 AD settled in this location near a natural harbor, and Garðar eventually became the home of Erik's daughter Freydis.

Sandhavn (Greenland)

To date unique among archaeological sites on Greenland, Sandhavn appears to represent the only joint occupation of a single location by both local residents (Thule/Inuit) and invaders from the North (Vikings/Norse). The site on the south coast of Greenland, approximately 5 km west-northwest of the Norse site of Herjolfsnes and within the area known as the Eastern Settlement.

L'Anse aux Meadows (Canada)

Although based on the Norse sagas, the Vikings were rumored to have landed in the Americas, there was no definitive proof discovered until the 1960s, when archaeologists/historians Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad found a Viking encampment in Jellyfish Cove, Newfoundland.

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