Day Trip: Vikingabyn Storholmen
Alex Dudley takes us on a trip back in time to Vikingabyn Storholmen.
Is there any better way of learning of Sweden’s rich heritage than through going back in time? The best Viking village that you haven’t heard of is less than 30 minutes away from Stockholm, just outside of Norrtalje.
Storholmen is a non-profit open air museum that includes live actors playing different roles in the closest real-life scenario you could get to life in Sweden during the Viking age.
I spent an afternoon there over the summer and was amazed to see that the visitor experience is far greater than just being an observer. You really are a part of what is happening around you. Storholmen prides itself on giving the visitor a “rich and ingenious” experience of the Viking age. You leave with knowledge and appreciation of what life was truly like for everyone involved.
The museum is located on a peninsula in Lake Erken next to a nature reserve which is also a Viking age grave field. This Iron Age burial field has 166 burial mounds.
I managed to speak to Jacob Christman, who has volunteered there for the past six years to get behind the scenes of Storholmen. ”We are about 70 active members and during the summer, we all live together as Vikings, it is unique and a fantastic experience,” says Christman.
The museum is separated by four different pillars: school activities, guided tours, open days with activities for families, and feasts/events with groups. The museum is expanding with new buildings and infrastructure being erected year on year, only heightening the level of experience that the visitor gets.
The key to the success of Storholmen is its community. Everyone around Norrtalje and the surrounding area seems to have spent time in the village, whether as a child or an adult and they all have a story to tell, which is beautiful to witness.
Christman was keen to emphasis this point as he recalled a disaster only a few years ago: “Two years ago, our big hall burnt down and we lost almost all of our recreated Viking items. But through the hard work, fantastic members and support from the local community, we have pushed through and now we have started the construction of a new great hall,” he explains.
“I think we are unique because it is run as a non-profit organisation with over 70 Vikings who truly are family since we live in a small Viking village together for a month each year. We all put the village first and you get a genuine village feeling because of that.”
During the summer, Storholmen becomes a hub for international visitors when people from around the world gather to work together. The village prides itself on the work it does with a peace organisation called International Arbetslag (IAL). This is the Swedish branch of the international peace organisation, Service Civil International (SCI).
IAL was founded in 1943 and has since worked for an ecological and multi-cultural society characterized by solidarity, non-violence and understanding between people. Christman has no doubt about why visitors come from around the world. “I think that it is the myth about the Vikings. People are also getting more and more interested in history and Vikings were a people we don’t know much about. We know about their raids and travels but who were they? What did they do at home? People come from far and wide to find answers,” notes Christman.
The village really comes alive over the summer and friends are made for life. Storholmen is sure to continue its popularity with Christman announcing that big changes are coming. “We are already excited for next year as we are constructing our new hall, and the roof will be finished before the next season begins. This is our biggest news.”
“We hope that this will bring more people and opportunities to the Viking Village, it’s an exciting time to be a part of this special place.”
For enquires about opening times, be sureto check out their website on this link.