Hedeby (referred to also as Haithabu) was a settlement and trading center on the Jutland Peninsula at the head of a narrow, navigable fjord, the Slie. The name means the town on the heath. It was surrounded on all land sides by an earthwork.
It became a principal market because of its geographical location on a major trade route from northern to southern Germany and Europe. Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings who held it at this time led to a dramatic increase in the rate of its expansion as a major trading center.
The town was sacked in 1050 by King Harald Hardraade of Norway during the course of a conflict with King Eric Estridsson of Denmark: a Norwegian skald, himself quoted by Snorri Sturlusson, 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
See also: Birka