Viking Age dragon's head found at Birka
Archaeologists from Stockholm University and Germany made an unexpected discovery last week when they were digging in the port of the Viking town of Birka, on Björkö in Lake Mälaren.
When archaeologists entered a layer that previously was a lake in Viking times, they found a mass of iron lumps. When they examined the lumps, they found a bronze lump with a dragon. The little dragon was normally placed on a dragon needle, but the needle for this item was missing. It turned out that the dragon fit in the mould that was found at Birka in 1870, and which forms the dragon that has become Birka’s signature mark.
A symbol of the Viking Age
“This dragon head has become a symbol of the Viking Age”, says Lena Holmquist, lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Stockholm University, and one of the project leaders for the excavations at Birka.
“For many years, there has been an ongoing debate as to where the dragon head was made. With the discovery, we hope to show that it was produced here in Birka”, she continues.
The excavations at Birka are now completed for this year, but will continue next year, during which the excavation area will be increased.
Read more about this year's excavations at Birka in the Facebook group Birkas Black Earth Harbour 2015.
June 18, 2015
Source: External Relations and Communications Office
- How Art Was Perceived and Experienced in the 16th and 17th Century Peter Gillgren, Professor in Art history at Stockholm University.
- The use of Thor's hammer in pre-Christian religion Anders Andrén, Professor in Archaeology