The Viking market in Saltvik Kvarnbo on the last weekend in July will propel you right into the world of the Vikings. In the crowds you will meet bearded Vikings and bejewelled women in beautiful costumes. It takes 40 minutes by car from Eckerö and 25 from Mariehamn. Buses go there every day.
Old Viking location
Saltvik is among the parts of Åland that were first to come out of the sea and have been inhabited the longest. In the Kvarnbo area there are several ancient remains and graves especially from the late Iron Age and Viking times from 800 to 1000 AD.
New archaeological finds of bronze adornments to costumes dating back to between the 500s AD and the end of Viking times have established that the Kvarnbo area includes a fixed ancient monument containing a large-scale building about 12×40 metres in size, a would-be hall.
There are parallels in the Mälaren area in Sweden but not in the eastern parts of the Baltic Sea region. It strengthens the hypotheses that the area had a particular significance during the late Iron Age and was a trade and commerce hub.
Displays of arts and crafts
The Viking market gets about 10,000 visitors and has become a hugely popular event that is one of the largest of its kind in Scandinavia. You can meet modern Vikings from Swedish, Finnish, British, German and Polish Viking associations. Viking-style songs and music alternate with weapon games and training in the art of combat.
It all starts with a magnificent entrance by Vikings and banners and several different medieval music groups will be appearing during the days. The Fornföreningen Fibula association’s own battle group Holmgers Hird, together with Huskarlarna from Sweden and other warriors from different countries, will demonstrate fighting techniques and Viking combat.
You will also find craftspeople at the market: leather tanners, blacksmiths, jewellers and silversmiths who make beautiful articles for everyday use as well as objects d’art using ancient methods, and of course a large number of sellers of other arts and crafts, textiles and home-baked bread.
Banquets and parties – and a Viking ship
The food is typically in the style of the Vikings and there are plenty of excellent dishes to choose from. The Café Knarren is located inside the Viking village. It sells light meals and drinks such as coffee, beer and wine. The Knarren is open during the Viking market. If it gets hot wearing a Viking tunic, it’s good to know that it’s just a 500-metre walk from the Viking village to the beach.
Masses of children’s activities make the Viking market a proper family event. Jesters and a children’s performance with fables and a fire show are usually popular. Check the up-to-date times on the events calendar and the detailed programme on Fibula’s website.
Fibula also organises summer camps for children, banquets and parties, and courses. In addition they have built a Viking ship, Borge Swyn. Building the Viking ship has been a long process and one of the association’s biggest projects, but now she has been taken down to Saltvik, rigged with square sails and is ready to set off on shorter or longer voyages.
The tickets can be purchased at the entrance (cash only) or in Mariehamn at Citytipset on Torggatan 6 and at the Tourist Office on Storagatan 8.