Viking Archaeological Site Of Hedeby And The Danevirke Gains UNESCO World Heritage Title

This area was a significant trade area during the Viking age and it is estimated that only 5 percent has been unearthed by archaeologists so far

Viking site of Hedeby gets a UNESCO World Heritage title
Nejron Photo / Shutterstock

This area was a significant trade area during the Viking age and it is estimated that only 5 percent has been unearthed by archaeologists so far

For those who watch History Channel’s Vikings, Hedeby is known as a location in Scandinavia that Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) ends up ruling. While this never happened in the Viking sagas that the television series is based on, Hedeby is actually a real location within the Viking world and it has now received a UNESCO World Heritage title.

According to the Smithsonian magazine, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee is currently meeting in Bahrain and have, so far, added 20 new places to their World Heritage list. This list includes “areas of natural or cultural significance.”

The Viking trading center of Hedeby and its surrounding wall is one such area that the UNESCO added to their list of significant sites. According to the UNESCO website, the archaeological border complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke in what is now Schleswig, northern Germany, on the Jutland Peninsula, “consists of the remains of an emporium – or trading town – containing traces of roads, buildings, cemeteries and a harbor dating back to the 1st and early 2nd millennia CE.”

Hedeby was considered unique at the time of its heyday as it was situated between the Frankish Empire of the South and the Danish Kingdom in the North, making it a trading hub “between continental Europe and Scandinavia and between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.” Now, as an archaeological site, the area contains a wealth of material left behind in this trading hub that archaeologists can use to decipher “economic, social and historical developments in Europe during the Viking age.”

World Heritage status has been awarded to the Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke
  Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein / UNESCO

While Hedeby was a major Viking location, according to the Smithsonian, a Slavic army invaded in 1066 and this led to the slow decline of the town. Eventually, the remaining inhabitants located to the nearby city of Schleswig, a town which still exists today.

While the town may have been abandoned as the Viking age came to a close, archaeologists still have a long way to go to uncover the entire wealth of information preserved in the archaeological finds there. Archaeologists estimate they have only uncovered 5 percent of the Hedeby site. Of these finds, iron, glass, precious stones, and other artifacts can be found at the museum at Hedeby.

Archaeological finds from the Hedeby And The Danevirke
Jewelry of precious metal of woman in chamber grave 5, around 900 AD Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf / UNESCO

According to DW, the Viking site of Hedeby is the “43rd World Heritage List site to be inscribed in Germany.” Of these sites, 39 are cultural sites. The remaining three are natural sites.

Other sites that were added to the World Heritage list include the Ancient City of Qalhat in Oman, the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara in Spain, Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region of Japan, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea, and the Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological Site in Kenya.

It is expected that deliberations on this meeting will conclude on July 4 and the list will be finalized then. However, you can view the full list of nominees via this CNN article.