Divers off the coast of Birka, an ancient Viking village near Stockholm, have uncovered 100 metre long jetties suggesting a coastal marketplace that was not previously imagined.
The team found that jetties stretching off the coast of the Björkö island were actually significantly longer than they initially believed, and could provide valuable information about the Vikings and their habits.
Andreas Olsson, a marine archaeologist who is heading the international team, was amazed by the find.
“We have found stone piers in deep water and these were rare for this age.
Timber, logs and poles as well. Previously, it was not thought that the Vikings could build stone piers at a depth of eight meters,” he told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN), adding that the team is in the process of figuring out how the port might have looked from this information.
The marine archaeologists, who have now estimated that the village was 30 percent bigger than previously imagined, also believe that a marketplace may have been based in the waters of the harbour.
Olsson explained that the jetties, which are five times longer than previously believed, were likely connected with the Vikings extensive trade system, and could indicate that the area was indeed a bustling village.
"The remains of the port structures show that it was actually a port, not just small jetties jutting out onto the beach as previously thought," he said.
"Everyone has ideas about the Viking age. Many of these emphasize the wild, warlike nature of the people, but what we're working on will distinguish the picture.
This is great, not least because that age is ever-present in popular culture,” Olsson told the paper.
The village of Birka, which is often considered to be Sweden's oldest town, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.