Hedeby Viking Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Hedeby Viking Museum

Busdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Hedeby or Haithabu, a former Viking settlement in Germany, is now home to the Hedeby Viking Museum.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Hedeby Viking Museum

Hedeby Viking Museum (known locally as Wikinger Museum Haithabu) is a museum near the site of Hebedy, a former medieval city. Located on the site of a Viking settlement, Hedeby Viking Museum offers great insight into the lives of the Vikings.

History of Hedeby Viking Museum

The Hedeby Viking Museum is one of the most significant archaeological museums in Germany. Located on the outskirts of the Viking’s former trade centre, the exhibition presents original findings, models, and media to place the site in its historical context of some 1,000 years ago.

Hedeby was founded at the beginning of the 9th century by Danish King Göttrik and, with its excellent location at the neck of Jutland in what is now Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein state, it was the ideal trading port, becoming one of the most significant trade centres in Northern Europe.

Its good position also made Hedeby a target and so it was fortified in the 10th century, with semi-circular ramparts being erected. For almost 300 years, the site held the key position for merchandise handling between the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

With the end of the Viking age around the middle of the 11th century, it was destroyed by Norwegian King Harald Hardrada – the last great Viking – in 1050, using burning ships. It was then finally destroyed by fire after a raid by Slavic warriors in 1066, so was subsequently abandoned with its functions being transferred to a new city: Schleswig.

Hedeby Viking Museum Today

Hedeby Viking Museum is located just across from the original settlement site and displays the results of over a hundred years of archaeological discovery. Incredibly, only around 5% of the site has been fully investigated.

Several nearby Viking houses have been reconstructed in accordance with original findings and the original fortifications are also visible. In the houses, visitors can experience how the people of Haithabu lived during the Early Middle Ages.

There are also displays of large Viking era artefacts, models of the settlement, reconstructed boats, and Viking graves.

There are also a few rune stones on display, which are a popular Viking monument form which is rare in this region of the world.

One of the most striking displays is ‘Wreck 1’, which, until recently, was thought to be the longest war boat from the Viking period. It sank in around 1000 AD in Hadeby harbour, and though only a small section has survived, a full-size model demonstrates what its original dimensions should have been.

Getting to Hedeby Viking Museum

From the centre of Schleswig-Holstein, the museum is a 35 minute drive via the B77 roads. There are also a number of connecting buses which take around 2 and a half hours from the same point.

Featured In

Germany Historic Sites

Dive into several millennia of rich history in our guide to Germany's top historic locations, featuring the likes of the Brandenburg Gate to the open-air Hedeby Viking Museum.