Top10 Swedish cities and the Viking Age

Four of the ten largest cities in Sweden can trace their history and often also names to the Viking Age. Read about Stockholm, Uppsala, Västerås, and Helsingborg below.

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  • Stockholm – Archaeological evidence of human activity in the area goes back several thousand years. The Viking Age city of Birka is located close to present day downtown Stockholm. Archaeological evidence of the oldest structures in Stockholm’s Old Town is from the Viking Age around 1000. First known written mention is found in a letter dated 1252.
  • Uppsala – Originally known as Östra Aros (meaning “eastern”, and “river mouth” or “outlet” in old norse), and since Uppsala (Upſala, Ubsala, Ub salum), meaning “above/over” and “sala” (thought to be name of an old village). Old Uppsala is first mentioned by Adam of Bremen around 1076. Adam of Bremen also writes about the Temple of Uppsala, which is thought to have been a religious center through out the Viking Age. Human activity and archaeological evidence pre-dates the Viking period with for example the King Mounds from the Vendel Period.
  • Västerås – derived from Västra and Aros (meaning “western” and “river mouth” or “outlet” in old norse), in this case of the river Svartån (the black river). Västerås is believed to be one of the oldest city in Sweden, and founded in 990 (shortly after the abandonment of close by Birka). Human activity and archaeological evidence pre-dates the Viking period with for example the Anunds Mound from the Vendel Period.
  • Helsingborg – Previously spelled Hälsingborg, the city name likely derived from “hals” (meaning narrow body of water, or neck) and “borg” (meaning castle). Archaeological evidence shows remains of a settlement there in the 900s. First known written mention is by Adam of Bremen around 1070, and in letter from King Knud the Holy dated 1085 (which is recognized as the date of founding).

Source: Compiled and written by AllThingsViking (May, 2015)

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