Roughly 1000 years ago, the Vikings wielded the axe to plunder and wreak havoc to many people. There was a time that people across Europe did nothing but ran away when seeing the Viking ship landed on the shore. 1000 years later, many problems could not be solved by violence. And the glory of the Vikings have long gone. But some of Viking famous places won the title UNESCO World Heritage without wielding any axe or shedding any blood.
Danevirke and Hedeby, Germany
Danevirke and Hedeby are two different Viking famous places. While Danevirke is the system of Viking fortification running over 30km (~19miles), Hedeby is the important ancient Viking settlement. Both sites are located in Germany.
The life in Hedeby was somewhat hectic with trading. But people there could not often live beyond 45 years old. The most common disease that people in Hedeby often contracted was tuberculosis. But the people in Hedeby quickly abandoned the site for two times people burnt it down. The first time was Harald Sigurdsson King of Norway that burnt the town. The second time was West Slavs. And from that on, the Hedeby inhabitants gradually abandoned the town.
Danevirke system of fortifications was used for the military and political reasons.
Jelling mounds, stones, palisade, and church, Denmark
The remains of the Vikings in the town of Jelling often fascinate scholars.
Jelling stone is one of the most famous runic stones from the 10th century. Archaeologists found the Jelling stones near the Jelling Church in the town of Jelling, Denmark. There are two runic stones in the site, both of which are the Jelling Stones. The bigger stone was erected by Harald Bluetooth while the other was by King Gorm the Old father of Bluetooth. The stone of father was in memory of the queen Thyra – the wife and the mother. The bigger stone was to honor King Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra.
The reason why the Jelling stones are special because they were the first birth certificate of Denmark. The two stones mentioned the name of Denmark on the runic inscription.
The stone by Harald read: “King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyrvé, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian.”. He managed to unify Denmark and Norway and convert his people to Christianity as well.
Þingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is one of the most famous in Iceland. It marked the development of the general assembly, the Althing which was the basic court in Medieval time.
This place is also the witness of the Viking unique cultural tradition: shipbuilding. The environment in the site was full of lakes, river, and sea. This boosted the development of the navigational skills and shipbuilding techniques of the Vikings. It was the shipbuilding techniques that helped the Vikings rose to their power, conquering many plots of land across Europe.
The Vestfold Ship Burials
The Viking culture and ships had a close connection. Their ships were parts of their life and their death. The Vikings were famous for their great shipbuilding techniques. Without the Viking ships, there would be no great history of the Vikings that once haunted the Europeans.
The Vestfold Ship burials consist of three famous Viking burial site with ships: Borre burial site in Horten, Oseberg ship burial, and Gokstad ship burial in Sandefjord. These are among the Viking famous sites.
The Borre burial site includes many burial mounds. In 1852, the first Viking ships were excavated in the Borre burial site. Not many parts of the ship survived the test of time. But the archaeologists could find many pieces of valuable artifacts. The Viking Borre style was part of this excavation.
The Oseberg ship burial might be the most controversial Viking burial. Because the Oseberg excavation made the archaeologists wonder a lot. The skeleton remains inside the Oseberg burial suggested the high postion of the women in the Viking society. The Oseberg tapestry made the archaeologists doubt the historical existence of the horned helmet.
The Gokstad ship burial is the best preserved Viking ship that the archaeologists have found. The luxurious objects inside Gokstad ship meant the burial owner was a man of high social rank.