Ulf suggested we go to Birka. The weather forecast didn’t look too promising, but once we were on our way in M/S Mälar-Victoria the clouds started to scatter and when we arrived at Birka the sun was shining very nicely, offset by a little breeze.

We tagged on a guided tour. Marika the guide was very good, deeply knowledgeable about the subject matter, able to make her voice heard a long distance without visible effort and going off at high speed across the island in her non-period trainers. The audience was also well-prepared, with relevant questions about what’s known about Birka’s time. After some final questions about gender issues in the late Viking age we let Marika off to her next group and pick-nicked on the side of the hill fort with a beautiful view over Björköfjärden.

We then had just a little time to try on archery and discuss Viking age metallurgy in the smithy before the boat left for the city again. As we left, the clouds gathered again, but stayed aloft.

The Black Earth of Birka
This used to be a bustling merchant city with a thousand inhabitants. Now it’s sheep pasture. Across the bay, the church at Adelsö is faintly visible, by the site of the then royal compound.

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