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Norman J. Finkelshteyn

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Belt pouch mounts from Birka / Bjorko

Information from Ny Bjorn Gustafsson, Archaeological guide at Birka.
Materials organised for article by Dmitriy V. Ryaboy

Click on pictures to get (much) larger images.

Editor's Note: Compare these plates and pouch reconstruction to the Khazar finds from Romanovsky and Salovsky burials (available at the Belt Database - see navigation form above).

The famous archaeological site of Birka, located on the Bjorko island in Sweden, has yielded a number of fascinating finds over the years. These include Viking-age tools, clothing, jewlery, and other items, many of them unique. During the 9th-10th centuries Birka was a major trading town where merchants came from the East, bringing with them the riches, as well as perhaps some customs, of the Rus, Silk Road and Byzantium. Many items, including the mounts featured here, have been determined to have Eastern origins.
The Mounts
Ny Bjorn Gustaffson writes:
"These belt mounts were found (in the Summer of 2002) in the garrison forge by the hill fort at Bjorko. They are considered unique for Scandinavia and probably came to Birka from the East, either from the Caliphate or possibly from Kiev."
"The forge is rather large, the current number of pit furnaces is 8 or 9 and there are many other finds from the area as well (combs, ceramic, parts of a soap stone vessel aso)."
"The current interpretation is that they originally were mounted to the 'closing strap' of an Eastern style belt pouch.

The pouch on the photos can be seen in the Viking Age exhibition at Jamtli, the Historical/Archaeological/Ethnographical museum in Östersund. It's a re-construction of a find from Rösta in Ås Parish, in the province of Jämtland (mid-western part of Sweden)."

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