Thursday, 17 August 2017

Stockholm and Uppsala – in the footsteps of Vikings

This summer, we visited Sweden – Stockholm and Uppsala, to be more precise. I have already blogged about the 17th century part of our trip, and here’s a little look at the Viking and Iron Age side.

First up was the Historical Museum. I’d wanted to visit the place for years now, having heard that they have an impressive Viking Age collection. And indeed it was that, a very large exhibition with many fascinating items - a must-see for Viking fans.

Some Viking bling:

Swords, of course:

Miniature Birka:

On the courtyard of the museum building were some Viking age style tents, a small boat and activities, such as archery, for children.

The museum is a huge building that houses several collections. In addition to the Viking Age section, we took a closer look at Prehistory...

...and raced through the general Swedish history, but, somewhat to our disappointment, found nearly nothing about the 17th century. Not to worry, though – we knew where to go for that! 😊 We decided to skip other sections, since there simply was no time for everything. I do want to point out, though, that there was no entry fee to the museum – you could see all this and more entirely for free! (Although we made up for that by spending money in the museum shop and the café, but the chocolate cake was totally worth it! 😉)

We concluded the day in an appropriate note: a dinner at Viking restaurant Aifur. The food was good and the mead was tasty. The atmosphere was rather boisterous (i.e. loud; a conversation would have required us to shout), but isn’t that the Viking way? It was definitely an interesting experience!

Near our hotel in Upplands Väsby was a place called Gunnes Gård: a reproduction of a Viking settlement with houses and outbuildings constructed in Viking Age style. There were also sheep, some cattle and pigs; chicken and goats that roamed free around the area. Our daughter quickly made friends with the goats who followed her around!

We also visited Gamla Uppsala (“Old Uppsala”), an important place in Iron Age Sweden – possibly the location of the legendary temple of Uppsala and famous for the royal mounds. Long have I desired to look upon the kings of old… um, I mean, at least their burial mounds. The mounds date back to the 5th and 6th century and were once believed to be resting places of gods and later thought to be burial mounds of the legendary Ynglinga kings (and queens, quite possibly). Rich grave goods and the sheer majestic size of them indicate that they are indeed royal burial places. You could actually climb the mounds, and although my crippled old leg did not think it a good idea, it is not every day you get to ascend the graves of bygone kings, so up we went. And it was worth it! The view from the top was lovely, and one - if one is inclined to indulge in such romantic fantasies - could feel oneself surrounded by something very ancient.

Right next to the mounds is Gamla Uppsala museum with a fascinating exhibition about the history of the place and the burial mounds (the grave finds, how the barrows were constructed etc.).

Gamla Uppsala also features Odinsborg, a restaurant/café where we had some ice-cream but where you can also drink mead from a proper drinking horn.

Finally, I want to mention a small but very interesting section dedicated to the Vendel period and Viking Age in the Gustavianum building of the University of Uppsala. As far as I understand, this exhibition concentrates on objects from a nearby excavation site (more about Gustavianum in my earlier post).

 Above, beautiful pattern (textile fragment)

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