Birka museum gets reconstructed buildings
The island of Björkö (latinised as Birca) in Lake Mälaren was the site of Sweden's first town in the Viking Period. The trading settlement flourished for about two centuries from the late 8th century onward, population about a thousand.
Today, a lot of tourists come to Björkö, and a lot of them are disappointed. The place is marketed as "Birka, town of the Vikings", but when you reach the island you find that the town was actually razed a thousand years ago and its site is now a green pasture. Not a single house standing. What's actually visible today is the town's hillfort, ramparts and barrow cemeteries. There is also a small museum on the island. Björkö is great for anyone who knows enough about archaeology to appreciate the earthworks, but it ain't no town no more.
The company that runs the boat service for Björkö has now made a deal with the National Heritage Board to build four reconstructed Birka houses near the museum to make the place a bit more palatable to tourists. The museum is sited on land that has risen out of the lake since the Viking Period, so chances are slim that anything interesting will turn up when they dig the postholes.
I'm sure the buildings will do a lot to give visitors a better idea what the town was like in its heyday. To my colleagues out on the island, good luck with the project!
[More blog entries about Birka, Viking Period, archaeology, Sweden; Birka, vikingatiden, arkeologi.]