This is story about teenagers on an island in the huge lake which is west of what is today Stockholm. It is about a real place – “Birka”. This was once the wealthiest and most important town in Sweden. Its fame and riches came from trading. Viking merchants bought and sold goods from all over the known world and Birka was the place where they met to do business. Furs and amber were traded for silver, spices and fine textiles. In the town there were craftsmen who made jewellery and goods which attracted buyers from as far away as Turkey and Central Asia.
Part of an archeological reconstruction model of the town of Birka
Today the once busy town is covered by a carpet of grass under part of which lies hidden the largest Viking graveyard in Scandinavia.
When I decided to visit Birka I had no idea that the very day I arrived in my small boat, was the first day of Viking week. I was surprised when three people dressed in clothes like those worn in the Viking period, helped me to tie up the boat.
They brought with them weapons and equipment of the period and lived the Viking life on the island. The warriors trained with swords, spears and axes, and were it not for their shields, there would have been many injuries.
They had travelled to the island on replica Viking ships.
The games they played, the music they made and the entertainment was as authentic as it could be. The fire jugglers in particular played dangerous games.
It was not long before I felt completely immersed in the Viking world and soon the things I heard and sights I saw, began to form themselves into this story.
When I watched the mystical Shaman, the Viking holy man, conducting a funeral ritual for an old chieftain, by the foreboding blue light of the Nordic sunset, I knew what the story should be about, how it should begin and how it would end.