From Academic Kids

Hedeby (Old Norse: Haithabu Latin: Heidiba In Germany the name Haithabu is frequently used.) Hedeby was a Danish settlement and trading center on the southern Baltic Sea coast of the Jutland Peninsula at the head of a narrow, navigable inlet, the Schlei (Danish: Slien) in the province of Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany. The name means "the town on the heath".

It was the biggest Nordic city during the Viking Age and is regarded as the oldest city of Denmark. It is first mentioned in the chronicles of Einhard (804) who was in the service of Charlemagne. The oldest town in modern Denmark is Ribe first mentioned in 854. Denmark lost the territory on which Hedeby was located to Austria and Prussia in 1864 in the Second War of Schleswig.

Hedeby was a Danish settlement built around 770. It was surrounded on all land sides (N, W, and S) by an earthwork, which was part of Danevirke. In the 9th century a second settlement developed north and at the Hedeby creek between the two. At the end of the 9th century the northern and southern parts of the town were abandoned for the central section. Later a 9 meter (about 27 foot) high semi-circular wall was erected guarding the western approaches to the town. On the eastern side, the town bordered the inner-most part of the Schlei, the bay Haddebyer Noor (Danish: Haddeby Nor).

Hedeby became a principal market because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between Germany and Scandinavia, and between the Baltic and the North Sea. Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading center. As Adam of Bremen reports, ships were sent from this portus maritimus to the Slavian areas, to Sweden, Samland (Semlant) and even Greece. It was the seat of a bishop and belonged to the Archbishopric of Hamburg and Bremen.

It is sometimes claimed that Hedeby was under Swedish rule for a short period of time during the 10th century. This argument is based on a rune stone, the Stone of Eric (Swedish: Erikstenen) discovered in 1796. The runes used on this stone apparently looks more Swedish than Danish. However this argument is based on an old misconception; that the so-called "short runes" were merely used in Sweden and Norway, and the "long runes" merely in Denmark. It is now known that the two main variations of the runic alphabet were used in all three Nordic countries and that many variations existed of both alphabets. Since the case for a "Swedish Hedeby" has not been based on any other archaeological material, despite of the extensive excavations in Hedeby, the claim of a Swedish Hedeby is not very convincing.

The town was sacked in 1050 by king Harold Hardrada of Norway during the course of a conflict with king Sweyn II of Denmark: a Norwegian skald, himself quoted by Snorri Sturluson, describes the sack as follows:

Burnt in anger from end to end was Hedeby [..]
High rose the flames from the houses when, before dawn, I stood upon the stronghold's arm

After Hedeby had been sacked by Harold, it was in 1066 plundered by Slavs. The inhabitants moved to Schleswig and Hedeby was abandoned.

See also

External links

de:Haithabu la:Heidiba sv:Hedeby


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