Fighting Men, Smiss, Gotland.

Viking expansion eastward to Ukraine, Russia and Constantinople marked a significant period in the history of the Scandinavian seafarers. The Vikings, known for their maritime prowess and fighting skills, established settlements in various parts of Europe and beyond, from Greenland to the Black Sea. The Gotlandic Vikings, in particular, played a significant role in the eastward expansion and left a lasting impact on the region.

Gotland, a Swedish island located in the Baltic Sea, was home to a unique Viking culture. The island was a wealthy trading center and its people engaged in trade with the neighboring countries, including Russia and the Byzantine Empire. The Gotlandic Vikings traded in furs, wax, honey, and slaves, among other goods. They also established settlements along the trade routes, which allowed them to control the trade routes and gain access to new markets.

The Berezan' Runestone kept in the museum of Odessa It was made by a Varangian trader named Grani in memory of his business partner Karl. They are beleived to have been from Gotland. The references to the Old Norse word "hvalf", meaning "vault" or "coffin, are found in Gotland and Västergötland. The runestone's shape and placement suggest the stone is made by Gotlanders.

In the late 9th century, Vikings embarked started their journeys to the east, settling along the Dnieper River in modern-day Ukraine. The Vikings established a trade center known as the town of Kyiv(probably Sviár or Roslagen Vikings, originating near Stockholm), which became a hub for the trade between the Scandinavian and Byzantine empires. The Vikings also established settlements in other parts of Ukraine and Russia, such as Staraya Ladoga and Novgorod. These settlements served as starting points for further eastward expansion and allowed the Vikings to control the trade routes connecting Scandinavia and Byzantium.


In the 10th century, the Vikings made their way to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The city was one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in the world at the time and the Vikings sought to trade with the Byzantines and control the trade routes to the East. The Vikings established a settlement known as the Varangian Guard, a mercenary force made up of Scandinavian warriors that protected the Byzantine emperor. The Guard played a significant role in the military and political affairs of the Byzantine Empire and its members were highly valued for their fighting skills.

The Gotlandic Vikings left a lasting impact on the region they settled in. They played a key role in shaping the culture and economy of the region and their settlements served as important trade centers. The Vikings also had a significant impact on the development of the Slavic cultures in the region, as they brought with them their traditions and beliefs, which were absorbed by the local populations.

In conclusion, the Vikings' eastward expansion to Ukraine, Russia, and Constantinople marked a significant period in the history of the Scandinavian seafarers. The Vikings established settlements, controlled trade routes, and left a lasting impact on the region, which continues to influence the area even today. The Vikings' journey to the east serves as a testament to their maritime prowess and their determination to seek new opportunities and expand their influence.



Viking Sites to See in Gotland, Sweden

  1. Spillings Treasure - Fornsalen - read more below this section.

  2. Paaviken Viking Harbor - Fårösund, Sweden: The Paaviken Viking Harbor was a key Viking Age harbor and trade center on the island of Gotland. Excavations of the site have revealed evidence of widespread trade and contact with other Viking Age communities in the Baltic Sea region. Visitors can explore the remains of the harbor, including the remains of wooden docks and buildings, as well as view a reconstructed Viking ship and learn about Viking Age seafaring and trade.

  3. Fröjel Ship Grave - Fröjel, Sweden: The Fröjel Ship Grave is the remains of a Viking Age ship burial, dating back to the 9th or 10th century. The site was discovered in the late 19th century and is one of the best-preserved ship burials from the Viking Age. Visitors can see the remains of the ship and learn about the Viking Age tradition of ship burials and the rich cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Viking people.

  4. Rune Stones - Various Locations in Gotland: Gotland is home to a large number of rune stones, which are stones with inscriptions in the Scandinavian runic alphabet. These stones were used to commemorate the dead, commemorate battles, and mark boundaries. Many of the rune stones in Gotland are well-preserved and offer a unique insight into the history and culture of the Viking Age on the island. Full list of runestone at the end of this text. 

These sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the Viking Age in Gotland. Whether you're interested in learning about Viking trade, seafaring, or religious beliefs, Gotland is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the Vikings. So pack your bags and experience the rich heritage of the Vikings for yourself!



The Summer of 1999 in the socken of Othem on Gotland was unlike any other. A team of reporters from Swedish television TV4 were on the island to film a cultural feature during Almedalen Week. They had chosen to highlight the issue of looting of archaeological sites, with archaeologist Jonas Ström and numismatics professor Kenneth Jonsson as their guides. The filming was taking place at Spillings farm, where 150 silver coins and bronze objects had already been discovered.

As the TV crew left, Ström and Jonsson decided to continue their survey of the field. Just 20 minutes later, their metal detector received a strong signal, leading them to the first of three incredible silver caches. With each signal, the excitement grew as the archaeologists uncovered more and more treasure. The first cache weighed 27 kg, the second 40 kg, and the third, an impressive 20 kg of bronze scrap-metal.

The discovery of the silver hoards sent shockwaves through the island, and the Gotland Museum made the decision to go public with the find immediately. The site became a popular destination, with over 2,000 people visiting the excavation site in just the first weekend.

As the archaeologists began to uncover the finds, they realized the true value of their discovery. The smaller of the two silver caches had been damaged by a plough, but the larger find was intact. The bronze scrap-metal was deemed even more valuable, as very few finds contain such large amounts intended for smelting.

The discovery of the treasure at Spillings farm was not only a major archaeological find but also a story of serendipity, persistence, and determination. The landowner had stumbled upon the first 150 coins and bronze objects, and Ström and Jonsson's decision to continue their survey led to the uncovering of three magnificent hoards. It is a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Gotland, and a reminder of the incredible discoveries that can be made when we least expect it.



Bunge 77:2a. Lärbro socken, Gotland.


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