EARLY MEDIEVAL CEMETERIES AND LIVING CONDITIONS IN SIGTUNA, SWEDEN
Kjellström, Anna & Wikström, Anders
Paper given at the 4th International Congress of Medieval and Modern Archaeology (2007)
Sigtuna is situated at a branch of the Lake Mälaren in eastern central Sweden (figure 1), about 35 km north of Birka and 35 km south of Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). The town stretches along the south shore of a rocky and wooded strip of land, between two passages leading up to Uppsala. Sigtuna is the oldest – still existing – town in Sweden, founded in the 970th or 980th. Primarily, it was not a trading town, but a stronghold created by the king Erik Segersäll in his quest for power in the Lake Mälaren region. A mint, the first in Sweden, was set up in Sigtuna about 995 by his son king Olof Eriksson “Skötkonung”. Extensive archaeological excavations have shown that the town was founded according to a predetermined plan (Tesch 1990, 1996, 2001b). In time Sigtuna succeeded the Viking Age proto-town Birka and preceded the 13th century town Stockholm. The foundation of the town was an important step in the development of the “Swedish realm” and made Sigtuna comparable to other contemporary larger settlements in Western Europe. From the 10th century and over the next 300 years it was the leading Swedish town and the largest and most densely populated place in eastern Scandinavia.