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Coordinates: 54 ° 29 ′ 28 ″  N , 9 ° 33 ′ 55 ″  E

Viking settlement of Haithabu
Reconstructed houses in the area of ​​the old settlement

Reconstructed houses in the area of ​​the old settlement

location Schleswig-Holstein , Germany
Location Busdorf
Viking settlement Haithabu (Schleswig-Holstein)
Viking settlement of Haithabu
When Viking Age, 2nd half of the 8th century to the beginning of the 11th century
Where Busdorf , Schleswig-Holstein
displayed Haithabu Viking Museum (open-air museum)

Haithabu ( Old Norse Heiðabýr , from heðr 'Heide', and býr 'Hof'; Danish / Swedish Hedeby , Latin Heidiba ; also Haiðaby , Haidaby ) was an important settlement of Danish Vikings and Swedish Varangians . The place is considered an early medieval city in Northern Europe and was an important trading place and main hub for long-distance trade between Scandinavia , Western Europe , the North Sea region and the Baltic States . It was founded around 770 and finally destroyed in 1066.

Haithabu was located on the Cimbrian Peninsula at the end of the Schlei in the Schleswigschen Enge ( isthmus ) between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea near the historic Ochsenweg (or Heerweg). The place probably belonged to the then administrative unit Arensharde . Today the area belongs to Germany, the area is part of the municipality of Busdorf bei Schleswig in the Schleswig-Flensburg district .

The more than nine centuries deserted place Haithabu is common with the Danewerk the most significant archaeological ground monument in Schleswig-Holstein and counts since 2018 as Archaeological border complex Haithabu and Danewerk for World Heritage Site by UNESCO . The ramparts around the former settlement are part of the “ Haithabu-Dannewerk ” nature reserve .


Location of Haithabu / Hedeby on the southern border of Viking Age Denmark
Important trading centers for the Vikings

After the Great Migration , in the course of which many Angles and Saxons emigrated to England , the Danes and Jutes advanced from the north to the Schlei and Eckernförde Bay in the first half of the 8th century . At that time, the area seems to have been sparsely populated. Haithabu was founded by 770 at the latest and soon became the most important trading center for the Danes. In the 9th century a second settlement emerged further north and another settlement on the Haithabu brook in between. At the end of the 9th century the northern and southern parts of the settlement were abandoned. The middle part of the Haithabu brook continued to be used and was integrated into the Danish border installations of the Danewerk by walls.

Due to the destruction of the competing Slavic trading town of Reric near Wismar by the Danish King Gudfred in 808 and the subsequent forced relocation of at least the Danish merchants to Haithabu, the town quickly developed into a trading town before Denmark achieved unity. Since 811, the Eider, flowing a few kilometers south, marked the border with the Franconian Empire , which made Haithabu even more important. The location of the place was very favorable, because the Schlei , a long arm of the Baltic Sea, was navigable, and at the same time the ancient north-south route , the Ochsenweg , ran here . It is also likely that goods were loaded here that were brought overland only a few kilometers to the Eider and from there on to the North Sea - and vice versa.

Haithabu was in the extreme south of the area populated by Vikings. From the 9th to the 10th century, Haithabu was an important, nationally known trading center with at least one thousand permanent residents. Own coins were also minted there. Other trading centers in Northern and Western Europe, without which Haithabu could not have achieved such importance, were among others at this time. a. Västergarn (previously Paviken ) and Vallhagar on Gotland , Avaldsnes , Kaupang , Spangereid and Steinkjer (Norway), Birka , Löddeköpinge and Sigtuna (Sweden), Domburg , Dorestad and Witla (Netherlands), Quentovic (France), Novgorod (Russia), Ribe and Tissø (Denmark) and on the southern Baltic coast Jomsburg ( Vineta ), Menzlin , Ralswiek , Truso (near Elbing) and Wiskiauten (near Cranz ), both places in Prussia, and Seeburg in the Baltic States. Around 890, Wulfstan von Haithabu undertook a trip to Truso on behalf of Alfred the Great .

Around 800, Swedish Vikings (Varangians), independent of Denmark, ruled the region. But only a few years later they were subjugated by the Danish King Gudfred , who made Haithabu the center of his empire. Around 900 Swedish Vikings again took power in Haithabu. In 934 the East Franconian-Saxon King Heinrich I defeated the Danes under King Canute I in the "Battle of Haithabu" and then conquered the city. Thus the area between the Eider and the Schlei fell initially to the East Franconian or Roman-German Empire, until 945 the Danish King Gorm conquered the important trading center. Gorm's son Harald lost Haithabu in 974 again to Heinrich's son Otto I , in 983 it fell to the Danish king. The local Scandinavian ruling family remained in office until this point.

Because of its location on the trade routes between the Franconian Empire and Scandinavia as well as between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Haithabu was finally a main trading center. Adam von Bremen calls “Heidiba” portus maritimus , from which ships were sent to Sweden and the Byzantine Empire . The manufacture and processing of pottery ( dishes ), glass and tools became particularly important for the significance of Haithabu, which was also visited and described by the Arab-Jewish traveler Ibrahim ibn Jaqub around 965.

In 948, after a visit by Emperor Otto I, Haithabu became the bishopric. The first Christian church had already been built around 850, probably by Archbishop Ansgar of Hamburg . The existence of this building is certainly proven in the written sources, but has not yet been proven archaeologically. However, a church bell from the early 10th century was recovered.

In the 10th century Haithabu reached its heyday and with at least 1500 inhabitants it was the most important trading center for the western Baltic region. In 983 the Danish King Harald Blauzahn (also: Harald I. Gormson; Danish Harald Blåtand), who had recognized the sovereignty of the empire since 948 , conquered Haithabu, and in the decades around 1000 the settlement belonged to the sphere of influence of the Roman-German Emperor Otto III. who, however, had no influence due to his young age and other disputes ( Slavic Uprising of 983 ). Under Emperor Konrad II , the border was probably moved back from the Schlei to the Eider through an act of war undertaken by Sven Gabelbart (→ Mark Schleswig ).

Although a nine meter high wall with a palisade surrounded the trading town, it was destroyed in 1050 in a battle between Harald Hardrada of Norway and Sweyn II ; it was then only partially rebuilt and in 1066 plundered and pillaged by the Western Slavs , who at that time lived in the areas east of the Kiel Fjord . The residents then moved the settlement to Schleswig - on the other bank of the Schlei - and did not rebuild Haithabu. Together with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in the same year, the destruction and abandonment of Haithabu marked the end of the Viking Age .

Haithabu (Heidiba) is mentioned in detail in the chronicle of the Archdiocese of Hamburg , which Adam von Bremen completed in 1076. The Saxons and Franks named a newer settlement near Haithabu Sliaswig and Sliaswich (settlement or bay on the Schlei), from which the name of the city of Schleswig and the Duchy of Schleswig is derived.


Site plan ( south )
A reconstructed Viking house from Haithabu

The hall houses of wood and / or wattle were probably with reeds or straw covered. The built-up areas varied between 3.5 × 17 m and 7 × 17.5 m.

Different types of graves were analyzed in the settlement: Danish fire pits, Swedish chamber graves, Saxon urn graves, Christian earth graves and Slavic urn graves. From this, the ethnic mix of Haithabu can be recognized, but also the influence of Christianization (from 826). In addition, different workshops, fortifications, landing stages, ship bridges and storage buildings were found.


Haithabu was at the crossroads of two important trade routes: the Ochsenweg (Danish Hærvejen , German Heerweg ) passed a few kilometers to the west, and for centuries it was the decisive south-north connection from Hamburg to Viborg in Jutland . In a west-east direction there was a sea trade route between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea: Ships could come to Hollingstedt via the Eider and Treene . It was then possible to use the Rheider Au with smaller ships. Then the ships had to be pulled overland from the Rheider Au to the Selker Noor (southern continuation of the Haddebyer Noor) in order to get into the Schlei. According to other theories, the Kograben just south of the Danewerk may have served as a shipping canal.

Goods from the entire known world at that time were traded in Haithabu: from Norway, Sweden , Ireland , the Baltic States , Constantinople , Baghdad and the Frankish Empire . Wines (Koblenz area) were imported from the Rhineland (5th – 7th centuries). Mainly raw materials were traded from the Scandinavian region, luxury goods from the more distant areas. A trade in slaves is documented by archaeological finds of iron ankle and handcuffs .

The example of Haithabu, which was a transshipment point on a green meadow with no urban infrastructure, is atypical for the emergence of a grown city. Due to the forced settlement of the Reric merchants and the influx of craftsmen, the settlement was densified. Because the rural population sold their grain surpluses in the city and the city dwellers were therefore not dependent on self-sufficiency, differentiated activities could develop there.


Haithabu site

The largest Viking town in the north came to an end in fire at the end of the Viking Age (1050 AD): While the Danish King Sven Estridsson (king from 1047 to 1074) was bound elsewhere, his opponent, King Harald the Harte, took action of Norway (king from 1047 to 1066), launched an attack on Haithabu. A Norwegian skald of King Harald composed the following chant about it:

The whole of Haithabu was burned from end to end in anger,
An excellent deed, I think, that will hurt Sven.
The fire struck high from the houses,
when I stood on the arm of the castle the night before dawn.

Haithabu could no longer recover from this destruction. As early as 1066, the place was looted and sacked again, this time by Western Slavs , who at that time lived in the areas east of the Kiel Fjord . The residents then moved the settlement to Schleswig - on the other bank of the Schlei - and did not rebuild Haithabu.


Memorial stone to the first mention of Sliesthorp (= Haithabu) in the year 804

The abandoned settlement Haithabu fell into disrepair at the end of the 11th century due to the rise in water from the Baltic Sea and Schlei. The facilities and structures in the settlement and port area, with the exception of the wall, completely disappeared above ground. Eventually it was even forgotten where the place at Haddebyer Noor was.

The prerequisites for the work of the archaeologists in Haithabu were favorable from the start: The site had never been built over, and due to the wetness, the parts near the shore were still very well preserved, so that the excavation area still showed many details. In 1897 the Danish archaeologist Sophus Müller came to the assumption that the area within the semicircular wall was the settlement of the old Haithabu. In 1900 this was confirmed by Johanna Mestorf . She had the first excavations carried out inside the wall, and finds confirmed the assumption. Every year from 1900 to 1915 excavations took place with the aim of clarifying the significance of Haithabu for Nordic history and its role in the world of the Viking trains. In the years from 1930 to 1939, heavy digging took place under the direction of Herbert Jankuhn .

During the Nazi era , the excavations had been under the patronage of Heinrich Himmler since 1934 and were initially financed by the German Ahnenerbe Research Foundation . 1938 took over this Haithabu. For the National Socialists, the excavations were of great ideological importance in their search for a supposedly “Germanic” identity. The SS Ahnenerbe invested more than half of its excavation budget in Haithabu. After the war, the work was continued under Kurt Schietzel .

In the summer of 1949, while diving, Otto von Wahl, a lawyer from Schleswig, discovered the palisades of the port fortifications of Haithabu, the rivets of the wrecks of Viking ships lying in the bottom of the port and various small finds such as B. Glass beads and a bronze bracelet. Otto von Wahl therefore urged the archaeologists to resume the underwater search. Extensive investigations of the Haddebyer Noores in the port area off Haithabu were then carried out from 1953 under the direction of Karl Kersten and Hans Hingst from the State Museum for Prehistory and Early History in Schleswig.

Since 1959, the entire southern settlement in front of the semicircular wall and a large part of the old settlement core in the semicircular wall have been excavated. The investigation of the 11 hectare harbor basin was also pushed ahead. Successful diving trips took place in 1953. The remains of the port palisade and the wreck of the Viking ship Haithabu 1 were discovered. In 1979 it was salvaged after the construction of a mining structure (bung box).

The salvage of the wreck, its preservation and the subsequent reconstruction of the Viking ship were recorded on 16 mm film by the Film-AG in the Schleswig-Holstein student union under the direction of Kurt Denzer . The 30-minute documentary Das Haithabu-Schiff was released in 1985 as the result of this film documentation .

Haithabu is the best-researched early medieval port in Germany. With ship salvages and port investigations until 1980, the excavations came to a temporary end. So far, five percent of the settlement area and one percent of the port have been intensively examined. With the help of dendrochronology , it was found that the individual buildings on the damp ground only had a short life and were built over several times.

Since 2002 a kind of map of Haithabu has been created with the help of magnetic, geophysical prospection . This makes use of the fact that the remains of human activity have different magnetic structures than the surrounding soil. To check and confirm the results, another dig was carried out in Haithabu from 2005 to 2010. It was u. a. a dome furnace was found on the remains of a burned-down mine house , which could have been used to make glass beads. The finds and findings from the excavation will be evaluated as part of a three-year funding from the Volkswagen Foundation. In the summer of 2017, a cemetery was re-examined in which grave goods had already been found a few days before the outbreak of war in 1939. During the uncovering of several graves, not only bone finds but also a number of pieces of jewelry came to light.

The most important finds, including the rune stones from Haithabu , have been exhibited in the Haithabu Viking Museum since 1985 . The Danewerk Museum is located directly at the Danewerk . A Viking house from Haithabu has been reconstructed in the museum of Moesgård in Denmark .

Todays situation

Today the Haithabu Viking Museum is located near the semicircular wall . From 2005 to 2008, seven Viking houses reconstructed from findings were built on the Haithabus site. On June 7, 2008, all seven houses were presented to the public in a ceremony. In the same year, a 6.50 m long Viking boat was built at the museum shipyard in Flensburg . Since mid-May 2009 it has been in Haithabu at the jetty.


Inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List

The Schleswig-Holstein State Archaeological Office under the direction of Claus von Carnap-Bornheim began the world heritage project “ Danewerk and Haithabu” on November 1, 2004. Together with the Danewerk and other Viking Age sites in Northern Europe , Haithabu was initially established as part of the transnational project “Viking Age Sites in Northern Europe "nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Site . The international application with Iceland, Denmark, Latvia and Norway, however, was referred back to the applicants for further revision by the World Heritage Committee in 2015 and was therefore no longer pursued.

In 2017, the State Archaeological Office of Schleswig-Holstein submitted a new, separate application for nomination as a World Heritage site on Haithabu as a Viking Age trading hub and on the Danewerk border structure under the title " The archaeological border landscape of Haithabu and the Danewerk ". After completion of the examination process by ICOMOS in coordination with the IUCN responsible for cultural landscapes , the world heritage title was awarded in June 2018. As part of a celebration on June 30, 2019, Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy in the Foreign Office, presented the UNESCO document for the recognition of the Haithabu and Danewerk archaeological border complex as UNESCO World Heritage to Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther.

See also


  • Hellmuth H. Andersen: The position of Denmark in 983 . Journal of Archeology 18. 1984
  • Archaeological State Museum of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Schleswig (Hrsg.): Reports on the excavations in Haithabu. 34 vol. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1963ff. ISSN  0525-5791
  • Robert Bohn : History of Schleswig-Holstein. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-50891-X .
  • Klaus Brandt, Michael Müller-Wille , Christian Radke (eds.): Haithabu and the early urban development in northern Europe. Wachholtz, Neumünster 2002, ISBN 3-529-01812-0 , ( Writings of the Archaeological State Museum 8).
  • Ole Crumlin-Pedersen , Viking-Age Ships and Shipbuilding in Hedeby / Haithabu and Schleswig, Archäologisches Landesmuseum Schleswig 1997, ISBN 87-85180-30-0 .
  • Ute Drews, Joachim Schultze, Bernd Zich: Showcase of an early city. Haithabu Museum. In: Archeology in Germany (AiD) 2005, 6, ISSN  0176-8522 , p. 72 ff.
  • Andres Dobat: Between Mission and Market - Ansgar's Churches in the North. An interdisciplinary consideration of the continental mission in Scandinavia in the 9th century. In: Germania 88 (2010), pp. 403-439.
  • Hildegard Elsner: Viking Museum Haithabu. Showcase of an early city. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1989, ISBN 3-529-01836-8 .
  • Herbert Jankuhn : Haithabu. A trading post from the Viking Age. 8th revised and greatly expanded edition. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1986, ISBN 3-529-01813-9 .
  • Herbert Jankuhn: Haithabu and Danewerk. 56th - 65th thousand Wachholtz, Neumünster 1988, ISBN 3-529-01602-0 , ( guide through the collection - Schleswig-Holstein State Museum for Prehistory and Early History in Schleswig. 2).
  • Wolfgang Laur , Christian Radtke, Marie Stoklund, Ralf Wiechmann:  Haiðaby. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 13, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1999, ISBN 3-11-016315-2 , pp. 361-387.
  • Wolfgang Laur : Languages, writings, "nationalities" in Haithabu and Schleswig. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde . Supplementary volume 25. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2001, ISBN 3-11-016978-9 .
  • Marlies Leier, Katja Leier: Once upon a time there was a person like YOU 1000 years ago in HAITHABU. agimos verlag, Kiel 2000, ISBN 3-931903-24-9 .
  • Jan Richter: Haithabu. A hub of early medieval world trade. In: Stephan Conermann, Jan Kusber (Eds.): Studia Eurasiatica. EB-Verlag, Schenefeld / Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-930826-99-2 , pp. 383-391.
  • Kurt Schietzel : Search for traces in Haithabu. Archaeological search for traces in the early medieval settlement of Haithabu. Documentation and chronicle 1963–2013. Wachholtz, Neumünster and Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-529-01797-1 (4th edition 2018).
  • Reinhart Staats , Günter Weitling : Ansgar in Haithabu, Beginnings of Christianity in Northern Europe , Ludwig, Kiel 2016, ISBN 978-3-86935-286-2 .

Web links

Commons : Haithabu  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Haithabu  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl Ploetz: Excerpt from the story , page 163. Ploetz, Würzburg 1962.
  2. ^ Walter Markov , Alfred Anderle , Ernst Werner , Herbert Wurche: Small Enzyklopädie Weltgeschichte , Volume 1, page 236. Leipzig 1979.
  3. Adam von Bremen, Book III, Chapter 13.
  4. ^ A b c Henning Bleyl: Dispute over archeology in the Third Reich. Wikinger now nazifree , taz.de from March 1, 2013, accessed on September 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Michael H. Kater: The "Ahnenerbe" of the SS 1935-1945: a contribution to the cultural policy of the Third Reich (=  studies of contemporary history . Volume 6 ). 4th edition. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-486-57950-9 , p. 90 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  6. Hartmut Lehmann, Otto Gerhard Oexle (ed.): National Socialism in the Cultural Studies (=  publications of the Max Planck Institute for History . Volume 1 : subjects, milieus, careers ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-35198-4 , pp. 474 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  7. ^ Henning Bleyl: Dispute over Nazi archeology. The Vikings strike back . taz.de from March 8, 2013, accessed on September 20, 2015.
  8. ^ "Two Schleswig excavations in focus" ( Memento from March 22, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Internet site of Schloss Gottorf. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  9. Start of the excavation in Haithabu , www.schleswig-holstein.de April 4, 2017
  10. Traces of a super-rich Viking , shz.de from June 1, 2017 (accessed on August 11, 2017)
  11. Joachim Pohl: Haithabu: Viking boat from the 21st century. In: shz.de. Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag , December 9, 2008, accessed on July 1, 2018 .
  12. ^ Haithabu: The first boat at the landing stage. In: shz.de. Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag , May 28, 2009, accessed on July 1, 2018 .
  13. At the time, was on the initiative of the SSW-MEPs Anke Spoorendonk of 24 August 2004 ( World Heritage Danewerk. Retrieved on January 20, 2016 . ) In the parliamentary process of the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament a request of all political groups, "with regard to the application Schleswig-Holsteinischer Cultural monuments, especially of the Danewerk, to be recommended for the list of world cultural heritage ”. In the 132nd session of the state parliament on December 17, 2004, this recommendation was accepted: Printed matter 15/3793. ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  14. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Project office World Heritage Haithabu and Danewerk, accessed on September 20, 2015 .
  15. Gero Trittmaack: Danewerk and Haithabu: Better chances going it alone ? In: shz.de. Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag , December 14, 2016, accessed on July 1, 2018 .
  16. Schleswig-Holstein on the way to the third world heritage: Haithabu and Danewerk recommended for entry on the world heritage list. In: Schleswig-Holstein state portal. May 15, 2018, accessed July 1, 2018 .
  17. ICOMOS recommends adding Haithabu and Danewerk to the UNESCO World Heritage List at schleswig-holstein.de
  18. Haithabu and Danewerk are world cultural heritage on ndr.de from June 30, 2018
  19. World Heritage Haithabu and Danewerk receives UNESCO certificate. Retrieved August 3, 2019 .