The Vikings Won the UNESCO Heritage Title for the Ancient Towns

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The Vikings Won the UNESCO Heritage Title for the Ancient Towns

The year of 2018 is so remarkable as two Viking ancient towns have won the UNESCO Title. They are the towns of Hedeby and Dannevirke.

What is the UNESCO Heritage Title?

The title of UNESCO Heritage is granted for a selected landmark or area because of having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance. And each place has to meet a certain number of standards to win this title. 

Image of the Hedeby town reconstruction

The reconstruction of Hedeby Town (Cre: Frank Vincentz)

As being the UNESCO Heritage, the place is sure to have a new and better identity in the world. This title confirms that place has the outstanding and important features. The site can also get more funding for preservation and protection. That is not to mention the economic source from tourism. And if ever a war breaks out, the sites as the World Heritage are under protection due to the Geneva convention against any destruction and misuse of these sites during wars. 

The two ancient town as the World Heritage

First off, Dannevirke was seen as the Viking wall across Denmark. And there was a tale about the reasons for the construction of Dannevirke. 

It was during the 9th century when Otto the Great also the King of East Francia wanted to make the Danes pay taxes for him. So he set out to the land of Jelling where King Gorm the Old and his beautiful wife Thyra was living. Otto wanted all the treasure of Gorm the Old, including Thyra the Beautiful. But Gorm neglected the threat from Otto the Great for he thought Otto could not pose any danger to his throne. Thyra was not only beautiful but also so intelligent that she stepped forward to talk with Otto. She demanded Otto to give her the time of a year to collect her gold. She told Otto to come back to Jelling on that day next year. Otto thought this was a good idea and returned back to his kingdom. Thyra did collect most of the treasure of her husband, but not for Otto. She used that treasure to build the defensive wall of Dannevirke which defended her family and her people against the attack of Otto one year later. 

Image of the tale of Dannevirke

But that was just a story. The Dannevirke, in fact, took the ancient people up to hundreds of years to construct. The Dannevirke is not a single wall. Instead, it is a collection of forts as long as 30km (~19 miles) 

The Hedeby was the largest town in Denmark during its time. Hedeby was among the most hectic and important trading towns. Because it was the crossroads of the Baltic Sea to the East. This site also carried many of the archaeological finds. 

Image of Hedeby town

Viking Hedeby town once the most hectic and important trading joint

Image of the Viking town

The construction of Viking life in the town of Hedeby and Dannevirke

Both of the towns meet two standards of the Cultural criteria to become the World Heritage chosen by UNESCO. They met the third and fourth standards: "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared" and "an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history"

Hopefully, this title can help both of towns get more attention and source for its preservation and protection. Moreover, this might lend a hand to help the archaeologists promote more excavation to find out more about the Viking age in these areas. 

Image of the Hedeby and Dannevirke as the World Heritage

The location of Hedeby and Dannevirke

Both sites are now in northern Germany. This means both of them are now the 43th World Heritage Monuments in Germany. 

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