This summer we were on the path of the Vikings who lived once in most of the parts of the nowadays Schleswig-Holstein region in northern Germany. Haithabu (or Hedeby) is a great place to discover more. Here there are re-constructed houses, a whole little village but also a very good museum. That’s the one I want to talk about, read here about the village.
Haithabu is one of the most researched sites in Germany. Only 5 % of the site is discovered until today but has already much to see. And the museum in its various rooms gives a great overview of the life more than a thousands years ago, when the place was an important trading center. There are exponents of the daily life but also of the trading business.
Most of the artifacts are displayed in show-cases and have also a little tag with some explanation what you see (German and Danish, you need the audio guide for English). Very impressive are the rune stones. I once learned about runes in school and was writing in runes for a long time. Childish things we all did.
I very much was interested in the jewelry, gold leafs and glass work. It is oftentimes so filigree and beautiful and very much similar to Byzantine jewelry.
In an extra room there is a display of a royal ship. It was once the fastest ship on the Baltic Sea and 31 meters long. It sank in the port of Haithabu. The trading ship is shorter, 22 meters, but had a load capacity of 60 tons (!). It was one of the largest trading vessels of the period. You get a good overview as well what a port was like around the 11th century.
In the little cinema you can follow two documentaries about what life was then.
The museum itself looks very modern from outside, but inside you feel like in the body of an ancient ship.
I would recommend an audio guide in the museum to have a better explanation of the objects you can see. There are also guided tours and programs, I don’t know if they are also in English. Handicapped people have no problem in the museum, it is possible to drive over to the village.
In the main museum house on the right, where you buy your tickets, you will find also a little gift shop with funny drinking horns, fake swords, t-shirts and books (in German obviously). When you buy the ticket don’t hesitate to pay the additional 2 € for the audio guide, you will need it to fully experience the life of the Vikings.
From here you can enter also the little restaurant which has really good food in a small choice. If you go downstairs you will find sanitary facilities and a room with lockers for your bags and rucksacks.
I also would recommend to do first the museum before you walk over to the village. That way you can dive better into the Viking life and the understanding is better than if you would go and not knowing what you are looking at.
Viking Museum Haithabu, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany:
For further information:
The official website of Haithabu
Open: all year round 10 am to 4 pm