A large longhouse has been found near the Viking town of Birka in Lake Mälaren.

Artist’s impression of the Viking Age manor at Korshamn, Sweden. Image credit: Jacques Vincent/Stockholm University

The 40-meter long house probably belonged to some high-status individual and the archeologists hypothesize that the manor may have belonged to a man who was the king’s deputy in Birka.

The finding is unusual since this type of building is in itself unusual and has only been found at a few sites in Scandinavia. The type of longhouse has only been found in Tissø and at the royal residence Lejre in Denmark.

The Viking age manor was found using ground penetrating radar, a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface, like a sonar on land and has been dated to the period after 810 CE.

“The results highlight the benefits of using non-intrusive geophysical surveys for the detection of archaeological features and, once again, prove to be an invaluable tool for documenting Iron Age building remains in Scandinavia”, says Andreas Viberg, a researcher at the Archaeological Research Laboratory at Stockholm University.

Birka was an important trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia as well as Central and Eastern Europe and the Orient during the Viking Age.

Birka was also important as the site of the first known Christian congregation in Sweden, founded in 831 by Saint Ansgar. It has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1993.

The discoveries are the result of a collaboration between Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, Stockholm county museum and Stockholm’s University’s Archaeological Research Laboratory.

“The consequences of our discoveries cannot be overestimated: in terms of the emergence of the Viking town of Birka, its royal administration and the earliest Christian mission to Scandinavia”, says Sven Kalmring, a researcher at the Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, Schleswig.

The findings will be published in the international scientific journal Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt, volume 2017/1.


Stockholm University: Major Viking Age manor discovered at Birka