Viking Sites and Viking Ruins

If you’re looking to explore Viking sites and Viking ruins and want to find the best places to view Viking Period history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Once you’ve explored the list of Viking sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Viking sites and Viking ruins.

Our database of Viking-era historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Viking sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Viking Period: Site Index

Chateau de Pirou

One of the oldest Norman castles in existence, the Chateau de Pirou is picturesque, small and yet well-fortified.

DID YOU KNOW?

The picturesque Chateau de Pirou in Normandy is one of the oldest Norman castles in existence and is now a popular attraction.

The site has been occupied since the 9th century, although at that time it was a wooden construction and was updated to stone in the 12th century. It was built to defend the nearby harbour.

Surrounded by a moat, with granite towers and turrets, and defended by five gates, Chateau de Pirou is simply a wonderful building, constructed just as we might imagine a fortified castle would be built. It was built by the Lords of Pirou, one of whom found favour with William the Conqueror during the Battle of Hastings, and was rewarded with an estate in Somerset.

The Chateau is famous for a legend that is as old as the castle itself. Under siege from Viking invaders, the inhabitants were at a loss for how to resolve their situation. At one stage, the Vikings were surprised by the silence that had fallen over the Chateau. After waiting for a day, the invaders scaled the walls, and were confronted by an empty castle, save for an old man in bed. They promised to spare the old man's life in return for learning of how the castle's inhabitants had escaped. They were told that the family living at the castle had used spells from a book of magic, to transform themselves into geese and flown to safety. The Vikings had indeed recalled geese flying overhead the previous day. The castle was burned to the ground, and the geese were unable to recover the book to reverse the spell. Each year, the geese return to the castle in the hope of finding the book again.

During the Hundred Years War, Pirou came under siege numerous times, and ownership of the castle changed on many occasions. One inhabitant of note was the knight Jehan Falstolf, who was renowned for his bravery, and possibly served as the inspiration for Shakespeare's character Falstaff. Although Pirou was spared demolition during the French Revolution, its buildings were used as barns. The Chateau began to fall into disrepair until restoration work was undertaken in 1968, and Pirou is now privately owned.

On entering the Chateau, one must proceed through four gates, before walking around the castle and proceeding through the fifth and final gate. Entrance into Pirou is across an arched stone bridge, which replaced the drawbridge in the 17th century.

In the lower courtyard there is an 18th century bakery, a cider press building, Saint Laurent's chapel and the Salle des Plaids. The Chapel contains a wonderful 15th century altar, and statues of St John the Baptist and Saint Laurent. The guardhouse, complete with large fireplace, is also well worth a visit.

The Salle des Plaids was converted into a barn during the Revolution, but formerly had housed the justice room, which the Lords of Pirou occupied to collect taxes and solve disputes. It has now been restored, and contains one of the highlights of Pirou - the Pirou tapestry. At 58 metres in length, the tapestry is in the style of the Bayeux tapestry and tells of the Norman invasion of Sicily and the conquest of southern Italy. It is possible to walk up to the ramparts and walk along the castle walls, and this provides excellent views.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Fyrkat

Fyrkat in Denmark is an archaeological site housing the remains of a Viking settlement.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fyrkat is an archaeological site made up of nine reconstructed Viking houses and a ringfort as well as a Viking cemetery. It is thought that the fort at Fyrkat was established during the reign of Harald I Bluetooth in around 980 AD.

There are also exhibitions about the history of the Vikings.

Photo by aikijuanma (cc)

Gamla Uppsala

Gamla Uppsala is an ancient Swedish burial site which includes at least 300 ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

DID YOU KNOW?

Gamla Uppsala, also called Uppsala Högar, is a famous ancient burial site in Sweden which includes hundreds of ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

With its roots stretching far back in time, much of the history of Gamla Uppsala is unclear and mingles into the semi-mythical legends of the earliest Kings of Sweden. What is known is that the area was of great religious and political importance during the Iron Age and Viking Age periods. The three Royal Mounds themselves likely date from the 6th century AD.

Today Gamla Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most important ancient sites and is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the area and visit the Royal Mounds as well as accessing a wealth of information in the Gamla Uppsala Museum, which also contains a range of artefacts from the area.

Also nearby is the Disagården Open Air Museum – which recreates life on a 19th-century farm.

Photo by mechanix (cc)

Jelling

Jelling in Denmark is an important Viking site and was the home of Gorm the Old. It is a UNESCO site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Jelling is an impressive and significant archaeological Viking site in Denmark containing a series of important tenth century finds.

Originally the royal home of the Gorm the Old, Jelling remains a vital part of Denmark’s history, particularly as this Viking king was the first of the royal line which still rules the country today.

Gorm and his son, Harald I Bluetooth, erected several monuments at Jelling, including a pair of enormous grave mounds, which are the largest in Denmark. These are still incredibly well-preserved and can be viewed at the site. Gorm was buried in the larger one, although the second one is not thought to have been used.

There are also two runic stones at Jelling, the larger one thought to have been built by Harald and the smaller by Gorm before him. The runic stones stand before Jelling Church or “Jelling Kirke”, which dates back to around 1100. This was the third such church to have been built on the site, former wooden version having been built by Harald, who converted to Christianity.

The Jelling site has a visitor centre – Kongernes Jelling - with a series of exhibits telling the story of the monuments. This site also features as one of our Top Danish Tourist Attractions.

Photo by cyesuta (cc)

Jorvik Viking Centre

The Jorvik Viking Centre recreates the Viking city of Jorvik, based on excavations found on this site in York.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Jorvik Viking Centre is an historical visitor attraction in York displaying a reconstruction of a Viking city as it would have looked in approximately 975 AD. In fact, between 1979 and 1981, archaeologists found around 40,000 well-preserved Viking items and the remains of their city on the site on which the Jorvik Viking Centre is based.

This archaeological dig was conducted on the site of a former sweet factory on land intended for use as a shopping centre. It was found that the soil of this land was ideal for preserving materials, even those as delicate as wood and leather. The remains unearthed included timber buildings, wells, tools, human and animal remains and textiles.

Today, many of these items are displayed at Jorvik Viking Centre along with a reconstruction of the city, complete with figures representing the Vikings whose likeness is based on skulls found at the site. From market scenes to those showing the Vikings at home and at work, Jorvik recreates the Viking life as it would have been in what is now York. This site features as one of our Top 10 UK Tourist Attractions.

Photo by chrisgNL (cc)

L’Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows is the only-known site of Viking settlement and the earliest European settlement in North America.

DID YOU KNOW?

L’Anse aux Meadows is the only-known site of Viking settlement in North America, these also being the earliest European visitors to the region.

It’s worth mentioning that, before the Norse settlement here, the area of L’Anse aux Meadows had been occupied since prehistoric times, but it is the arrival of the Vikings in circa 1000AD which makes this site so remarkable.

Today, L’Anse aux Meadows is a UNESCO-listed archaeological site. Visitors to L’Anse aux Meadows can tour reconstructions of a trio of reconstructed 11th century wood-framed Viking structures as well as viewing finds from archaeological digs at the interpretative centre.

Photo by Marcus Meissner (cc)

Lindholm Hoje

Lindholm Hoje is the biggest Viking and Iron Age burial site in Denmark.

DID YOU KNOW?

Lindholm Hoje (Lindholm Hills) is a large archaeological site housing Denmark’s most impressive Viking and Germanic Iron Age graveyard.

With over 700 graves of various shapes and sizes found in 1952, Lindholm Hoje offers a fascinating insight into burial customs of the time.

Guided tours can be arranged in advance. Lindholm Hoje also has a museum displaying archaeological finds and telling the story of the Viking and Iron ages.

Photo by Gruenemann (cc)

Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory, on the mystical Holy Island, is the dramatic ruin of a eleventh century Benedictine monastery and a place of pilgrimage.

DID YOU KNOW?

An important Christian site, Lindisfarne Priory was a Benedictine monastery built in the eleventh century which, even today, remains a place of pilgrimage. Its location on what is known as the Holy Island adds to the mysticism and sheer serenity of Lindisfarne Priory, particularly as this picturesque island is only accessible from the mainland twice daily during low tide.

The first monastery to be built at Lindisfarne was founded by St Aidan in 635 AD. It was a thriving Benedictine monastery and became the burial place of Saint Cuthbert, who had lived there for a time. It was also at Lindisfarne Priory that the Lindisfarne Gospels were created. However this incarnation of Lindisfarne Priory was subjected to numerous Viking attacks, including in 793 and 875 AD, leading the monks to abandon the site.

Monks only returned to the Holy Island in the eleventh century and Lindisfarne Priory once flourished again only to be disbanded by Henry VIII in 1537 in the dissolution of the monasteries.

Today, the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory form a hauntingly beautiful site on the isolated Holy Island. Ornately decorated and magnificently engineered, the dramatic remains of the priory are well preserved, offering a good insight into how this vast building looked in its heyday. Managed by English Heritage, the site includes a museum which explores the history of Lindisfarne Priory and that of Saint Cuthbert. A visit to the priory and museum usually lasts an hour or so.

Those wanting to see the Lindisfarne Gospels can view them at the British Museum and Saint Cuthbert is buried at Durham Cathedral.

Moesgard Museum

The Moesgard Museum is an archaeological museum near Arhus in Denmark.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Moesgard Museum near Arhus in Denmark is a museum of archaeology, with a diverse set of displays.

Amongst its impressive collection, the Moesgard Museum houses the Grauballe Man, which is the incredibly well-preserved mummy of a prehistoric man believed to have lived around 2,000 years ago. The body was found in a nearby bog – the composition of which is the reason why the body is so intact. Investigations have found that the man had died a violent death, with his throat having been slit and his left tibia broken. It is thought this might have been a human sacrifice.

A bog was also the source of the Moesgard Museum’s exhibit of weaponry from Illerup Adal. Dating back to 200 AD, the 15,000 weapons and objects found there belonged to a force of invading western Scandinavians who were defeated and their wares destroyed and dropped into the bog.

A further display at the Moesgard Museum is its impressive collection of runes. These are stones bearing the runic alphabet, Scandinavia’s earliest form of written language. The runes at the Moesgard Museum date back to around 200 AD.

For those interested in Viking history, the Moesgard Museum houses a set of reconstructed Viking buildings. It is also worth wandering around the prehistoric path which surrounds the museum, which contains a series of reconstructed houses from different periods in Denmark’s history.

National Museum of Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark contains an impressive range of exhibits about the country’s history and culture.

DID YOU KNOW?

The National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) contains a range of exhibits about the country’s history and culture.

There are eight main themes within the National Museum of Denmark from prehistory to present day. Going through the museum, visitors can learn about everything from the Vikings and other early Danish inhabitants to viewing Renaissance artwork and seeing how the modern state of Denmark developed. Amongst the highlights of the museum are its prehistoric Trundholm Sun Chariot and its medieval golden altars.

The National Museum of Denmark also contains artefacts and items from around the world, some in its antiquities collection such as ancient Greek statues and Egyptian mummies and other in its ethnographic section including nodding dolls from China.

Just walking around the National Museum of Denmark is fascinating, especially given the building’s history as having once been the Prince’s Palace. Built in the 18th century, this palace was home to Denmark’s royals and there is a specific exhibit about its past. Perhaps its most impressive room is the Great Hall.

There’s an overview self-guided tour of the museum, which takes around an hour to complete. It’s also worth mentioning that the museum has a good children’s exhibit, which offers an interactive element for younger visitors.

Swedish Museum of National Antiquities

The Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm has pieces ranging from the Stone Age to medieval times.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Swedish Museum of National Antiquities (Historiska Museet) in Stockholm offers a comprehensive series of exhibitions for the period spanning from the Stone Age to the Medieval period.

From prehistoric artifacts to Viking displays and beyond, the Museum of National Antiquities offers an insight into ten thousand years of history.

One of the most striking exhibits at the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities is its “Gold Room’, a heavily fortified underground chamber housing around 52kg of gold ranging from Viking relics to pieces from the Middle Ages.

The museum offers audio guides in English, Swedish, French, German and Spanish, although these are on a first come first serve basis. These are not adapted for children, but the history trails in the Viking section are perfect for kids to follow.

Photo by Gregory J Kingsley (cc)

The Braaid

The Braaid on the Isle of Man contains the remains of a Celtic stone-built roundhouse and two Viking longhouses, though little remains to be seen today.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Braaid, or Braaid Viking Farmstead, is an historic site on the Isle of Man containing the remains of a Celtic and Viking farm settlement.

Believed to have originally consisted of a 1st-3rd centuries AD Celtic stone-built roundhouse, the Vikings added at least two other buildings to the site during their time in control of the island.

Today little remains of these structures apart from the stone circle outline of the roundhouse and the foundations of the two Viking longhouses.

Photo by Lonnie (cc)

The Settlement Exhibition

The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement in its original setting.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement set in its original location in Reykjavik. Visitors to the Settlement Exhibition can see an array of artefacts excavated at the site as well as the stone foundations of a Viking Longhouse.

The site of the Settlement Exhibition dates back to 871AD, while the longhouse is believed to be from the 10th century.

The Viking Fortress Trelleborg

Trelleborg in Denmark is a collection of Viking fortresses dating back to the tenth century.

DID YOU KNOW?

Trelleborg is located in Northwest Zealand, Denmark. Established by Harald I a famous Viking king also known as Bluetooth. The Viking fortress at Trelleborg is one of the best preserved of four circular fortresses in Denmark.

The collection of circular fortresses in Denmark is believed to date back to the tenth century and would have been heavily defended by an army of warriors led by Harald I, who was the son of Gorm the Old.

In addition to the fortress, visitors can see a large Viking cemetery, a Viking village and a museum housing numerous excavated objects, a museum shop and café.

Trelleborg is very child-friendly, with demonstrations, costumed-guides and activities. It also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Denmark.

Photo by Historvius

The Viking Museum at Ladby

The Viking Museum at Ladby displays a tenth century Viking burial ship.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Viking Museum at Ladby houses the Ladby Burial Ship, a Viking ship grave found there in 1935.

Dating back to around 925 AD, it is believed that the ship is the burial site of a prince or other leader, such as a chieftain. The Ladby Burial Ship was hauled to the top of the hill and filled with burial goods such as valuables and even animals.

Displaying the Ladby Burial Ship amidst a series of other excavation finds, the Viking Museum at Ladby offers an insight into the history of the Vikings and their lives in the area.

The Viking Ship Museum

Vikingeskibsmuseet in Roskilde is a Viking Ship Museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingeskibsmuseet) is located in Roskilde in Denmark. Displaying five Viking vessels, the Viking Ship Museum offers an incredible insight into the world of the Viking people and their era of between 800 AD and 1100 AD.

The ships displayed at the Viking Ship Museum are known as the “Skuldelev Ships”. This is due to the fact that they were found sunk in Skuldelev, a deliberate act by the Vikings to form a barrier – the Peberrende blockade - to enemy vessels.

The Viking ships range from a 30 metre long warship known as “wreck 2” to an 11.2 metre fishing boat. Each one has been carefully reconstructed.

The Viking Ship Museum also has an exhibit telling the story of a Norwegian attack and there are even summer boat trips available for an authentic Viking experience.