An interesting find from Birka in Sweden, where archaeologists have discovered a bronze dragon, which may have originally formed part of an ornate dress pin. One of the most iconic images from Viking Age Sweden, the Birka Dragon had previously only been known from a soapstone mould that was uncovered in the 1870s (see image below). Although the new artefact is still in a pre-conservation state and as a result highly corroded, the out-line of Birka’s famous dragon can just be discerned.
‘We did not understand immediately what we found, it took a few minutes‘ said Sven Kalmring, professor at the Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, who carried out the archaeological excavation along with the Department of Archaeology at Stockholm University. The dragon’s head has now been sent for conservation and will eventually be put on display in a local Museum.
Founded in the late 8th century AD, Birka was an important early Viking port which handled goods from all over Scandinavia as well as Western and Eastern Europe. Archaeological excavations at the site have revealed extensive evidence for both burial and habitation activity, indicating that it was once a thriving settlement. However, in the late 10th century it appears to have been abandoned, possibly due to sea level changes and competition from rival ports.