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In the footsteps of Rurik

A guide to the Viking History of Northwest Russia
By Dan Carlsson and Adrian Selin

Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture

The Northern Dimension (ND) is a common policy of the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland, with Belarus also playing an increasingly important role in the cooperation. ND was first initiated in 1999, and it gained new momentum after the adoption of a revised ND Action Plan in 2006. ND is based on the principle of equal partnership among the partners.
The cooperation takes place in the form of meetings of senior representatives from the participating countries as well as in the four partnerships: The ND Environmental Partnership (NDEP), the ND Partnership for Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS), the ND Partnership for Transport and Logistics (NDPTL) and the ND Partnership for Culture (NDPC).
The NDPC is one of the newer partnerships. Its preparation started in 2008. In May 2010 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the participating countries and an NDPC Action Plan was submitted to the ND Ministerial Meeting in November 2010. The Partnership became operational in January 2011, and it has a small secretariat hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen. The NDPC also has a Steering Committee, which is composed of representatives of the participating countries and which meets regularly. For more information on the NDPC and its activities see www.ndpculture.org

The mission

The NDPC Steering Committee has identified Viking heritage as a topic of common interest for the participating countries. While the Viking Route is an important European cultural route, it has been largely dormant. The Route offers potential for the development of cultural tourism across the borders in the Northern Dimension area, and is therefore of interest for the NDPC.
The background to this initiative is that Viking heritage has long been of common interest in Western Europe, as well as in Canada, as a resource for cultural tourism, with places like The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, The Hedeby museum in Germany and the ship museum in Roskilde, Denmark, as well-known examples. Many of the sites are on the world Heritage list, like L’Ans aux Meadows at Newfoundland, Canada, the Viking town Birka in Sweden, the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway, as well as the famous stave churches in Norway.
While many of the Viking settlements in Northern Europe already exist as heritage sites, less is known about the Viking Route heritage sites located in Russia and the information available on them is largely available in the Russian language. The NDPC Steering Committee therefore decided that a study on the Viking heritage sites in Russia was needed, to have a survey of the sites and information on their state and development needs. Eventually the heritage sites located in Russia could be connected with those located in other countries to complete the Viking Route.

Read next

Gotland and the east

The Swedish island of Gotland is famous for its profusion of silver hoards from the Viking Age (750-1100 AD).

The hoards mainly comprise silver items, of which a clear majority originate from the east.

This is a presentation of those far flung trade routes, based on the material.

Go to the presentation!




Konetskiy V. Y., Troyanovskiy S. V.

The "Big sopka" of Peredol'skiy grave-yardin the context of social-political history of Novgorod at the turn of XI-XII cc.


This article is devoted to Shum-gora ("Noisy-hill") – a truly remarkable archeological object in the upper stream of the River Luga (Poluzh'e). This two-level artificial hill is usually regarded as a burial mound, taking into account its location in a large complex of ordinary mounds (sopki). In 2002-2006 nondestructive geophysical researches opened a way to alternative interpretations. The new hypothesis of the authors is an attempt to put this complicated monument into the social and political context of Novgorod history at the turn of XI-XII cc., when the life of the city felt a strong cultural and religious influence of Northern Europe. Shum-gora looks very similar to the well-known type of early-medieval castles – motte, which were widely spread in Europe in XI-XIII сс. The castles of this type covered a wide area from Ireland to the banks of the River Elba, manifesting the coming of the feudal era. In this case, Shum-gora can be seen as a prestigious fortified mound (in the western manner) in the central part of Poluzh'e, traditionally considered as the basic point of centralized power since the epoch of Kievan princess Olga’s campaigns (946/947). On the other hand, motte in Peredol'skiy pogost makesone more unique example of Novgorod’s western links in the crucial phase of its history connected with the reign of prince Mstislav (Harold), the son of Vladimir Monomakh and Anglo-Saxon princess Gita.    


Keywords:burial monuments (sopki) of the upper stream of the Luga River, early medieval fortifications of Europe, feudalization of Novgorod land, sociocultural and political links of Novgorod and the West in XI-XII cc., the reign of prince Mstislav the Great in Novgorod.