Stockholm Viking History
Written by Viator, August 2010
That warrior spirit lives on in the proudly independent Swedes – take a day trip from the capital and deepen your knowledge of peaceful Scandinavia’s warlike past.
The first stop on this fascinating journey back in time is Jarlabankes bro (“Jarlabanke's bridge”, actually a causeway), where you can admire 11th century runic inscriptions. More Old Norse carvings await at Arkils Tingplats, once the site of things. That may sound disconcertingly vague, but “thing” was the name of the old Viking assembly, a democratic institution which belies the image of Vikings as mere smash-and-grab marauders.
You’ll get more opportunities to brush up your Old Norse before arriving in the charming, historic town of Sigtuna, which was once a battleground between Pagan and Christian forces. You can shop for your own piece of take-away history in the local antique center.
The last stop is Gamla Uppsala (“Old Uppsala”), one of Sweden’s most significant historic sites. Kings and Vikings, bishops and pre-Christian priests have all left their marks on this territory, and their traces are all around. This was once a center of sacrifices to Norse gods (including, it is said, human sacrifices). There are also major burial grounds here, marked by distinctive mounds, with artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age. Among the permanent residents are a number of Yngling kings, part of a dynasty wreathed in legend and mentioned in numerous sagas.