According to the National Museum of Denmark, before the Viking Age, trading locations and areas existed, as well as larger villages that based their economy on farming or fishing, but there were no proper towns.

Viking households were highly self-reliant - they produced most necessities that individuals and families needed to get by.  

However, Vikings also made sure to secure surplusses (through farming or other activities) that they could trade for goods and tools that were not easily available. The practice boosted trade.

After the start of the Viking Age, trading towns popped up in key locations, mostly near the Scandinavian coastline. Fjords were especially well-suited as trading locations.

Pre-planned trading towns

While some smaller trading towns developed organically, others were the result of meticulous planning and preparation. An example of such a pre-planned town is Ribe, located near the Ribe River. 

The trading towns' population consisted mostly of merchants and craftsmen, who served both regular customers and other visiting traders.

Furthermore, these trading towns functioned as exchange hubs - local goods were traded and sold to international merchants, while imported goods were bought and distributed further on into other Scandinavian areas. That is one of the reasons why imported objects are often discovered during excavations of Viking finds in Scandinavia.

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