Category Archives: NORWAY

Archaeologist Discovered Viking Ship Found Under the Ground in Norway

Archaeologist Discovered Viking Ship Found Under the Ground in Norway

Archaeologists in Norway using ground-penetrating radar have detected one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found. Archaeologists have found the outlines of a Viking ship buried not far from the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

The 65-foot-long ship was covered over more than 1,000 years ago to serve as the final resting place of a prominent Viking king or queen. That makes it one of the largest Viking ship graves ever discovered.

An image generated by ground-penetrating radar reveals the outlines of a Viking ship within a burial mound.  Experts say intact Viking ship graves of this size are vanishingly uncommon.

“I think we could talk about a hundred-year find,” says archaeologist Jan Bill, curator of Viking ships at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. “It’s quite spectacular from an archaeology perspective.”

The site where the ship grave was discovered is well-known. A burial mound 30 feet tall looms over the site, serving as a local landmark visible from the expressway just north of the Swedish border.

But archaeologists thought any archaeological remains in the nearby fields must have been destroyed by farmers’ plows in the late nineteenth century.

An image generated by ground-penetrating radar reveals the outlines of a Viking ship within a burial mound.

Then, this spring, officials from the surrounding county of Ostfold asked experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Research to survey the fields using a large ground-penetrating radar array.

They were able to scan the soil underneath almost 10 acres of farmland around the mound. Underneath, they found proof of 10 large graves and traces of a ship’s hull, hidden just 20 inches beneath the surface.

Knut Paasche, head of the archaeology department at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Research and executive of the recent work at the site, estimates the ship was at least 65 feet long.

It appears to be well preserved, with clear outlines of the keel and the first few strakes, or lines of planking, visible in the radar scans. The ship would have been dragged onshore from the nearby Oslo fjord. At some point during the Viking Age, it was the final resting place of someone powerful.

“Ships like this functioned as a coffin,” says Paasche. “There was one king or queen or local chieftain on board.”

The Viking ship was discovered by georadar at Jellestad next to the monumental Jell Mound in Ostfold.

Whoever was buried in the ship was not alone. There are traces of at least 8 other burial mounds in the field, some almost 90 feet across. Three large longhouses-one 150 feet long-are also visible underneath the site’s soil, together with a half dozen smaller structures.

Archaeologists hope future unearthings will help date the mounds and the longhouses, which may have been built at different times. “We can not be sure the houses have the same age as the ship,” Paasche says.

Paasche plans to return to the site next spring to lead more sophisticated scans, including surveying the site with a magnetometer and perhaps digging test trenches to see what condition the ship’s remains are in.

The ship burial forms a part of a larger mound cemetery and settlement site from the Iron Age next to the Jell Mound

If there is wood from the ship’s hull preserved beneath the ground, it could be used to date the find more decisively.

The chances of finding a king’s fortune are slim. Because they were so prominent in the landscape, many Viking Age burials were robbed centuries ago, long before they were leveled by Nineteenth-century farmers.

But “it would be very exciting to see if the burial is still intact,” says Bill. “If it is, it could be holding some very interesting finds.”

Hiker stumbles upon 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient trail in Norway

Hiker stumbles upon 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient trail in Norway

A hiker in Norway has discovered an ancient sword while walking an ancient route in the mountains of Haukeli.  The well-preserved sword has been dated to the 8 th century and is typical of a sword belonging to the Viking Age.

The discovery was announced by Hordaland County Council , which described the weapon as a double-edged sword that is 30 inches (77 centimeters) long and made of wrought iron. Although in good condition, the sword is missing its handle. It is believed to date back to around 750 AD.

The sword was found by hiker Goran Olsen while walking on an old route that runs between western and eastern Norway. Olsen had stopped for a rest, when he spotted the weapon underneath some rocks.

Goran Olsen was walking in the mountains of Haukeli when he stumbled upon the old Viking sword

County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd said that the sword had been preserved by the frost and snow that covers the area for at least 6 months of the year.

A Status Symbol?

After its discovery, the sword was examined by archaeologist Jostein Aksdal of Hordaland County Council. Aksdal told the Mail Online that it was unusual to find a sword of its type today. He speculates that, due to the high cost of extracting iron, the sword likely belonged to a wealthy individual and would have been somewhat of a status symbol, to “show power”.

Viking swords often had handles that were richly decorated with intricate designs in silver, copper, and bronze. The higher the status of the individual that yielded the sword, the more elaborate the grip.

An elaborate Viking sword hilt, 9 th century, Museum of Scotland

While the sword discovery is rare and exciting, it does not bear the mark of a Viking Ulfberht sword.  The superstrong Ulfberht swords, of which about 170 have been found, were made of metal so pure that scientists were long baffled as to how they mastered such advanced metallurgy eight centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.

An Ulfberht sword displayed at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany.

The newly discovered Viking Sword is currently undergoing preservation at the University Museum of Bergen and plans are underway to conduct a research expedition to explore the area further. It is hoped that the sword may be one of many artifacts at the site.

‘Lost’ Viking Village Artifacts Emerge From Norwegian Basement Archive

‘Lost’ Viking Village Artifacts Emerge From Norwegian Basement Archive

It isn’t rare for a once prosperous medieval town to be abandoned and slowly get side-lined in the annals of history. Nothing exemplifies this statement better than the lost Viking village of Borgund, on the west coast of southern Norway.

The Discovery of the Viking Village of Borgund, Norway

The Borgund Kaupang Project was launched in 2019 by the University of Bergen to re-examine the countless Viking village artifacts found in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, which have long been housed in a basement archive, according to Science Norway .

This picture shows the Borgund Viking village excavation site in 1954. The Borgund fjord, a rich source of cod, can be seen in the background.

At the time of discovery in 1953, a piece of land near Borgund church had been cleared, uncovering a lot of debris and objects that were immediately traced to the Norwegian Middle Ages . Over the course of that year and the following summer some 45,000 objects were painstakingly put away into storage after a cumbersome excavation.

It was only in 2019 that these items were taken out of storage to piece together the history of a thousand-year-old Norwegian Viking village that the world knows little about.

“The 45,000 objects from the 5,300 square meter excavation area in Borgund have just been lying here,” said Danish archaeologist and project manager Professor Gitte Hansen. “Hardly any researchers have looked at this material since the 1970s.”

What’s particularly interesting is that the town of Borgund is mentioned in Viking sagas and charters from the Middle Ages. Sagas mention the existence of the town as early as at least 985 AD, as this was where Håkon Jarl and his sons journeyed before the battle against the Jomsvikings in 985 AD, states the University of Bergen (UIB) press release . King Håkon was the de facto Norwegian ruler between 975 and 995 AD.

King Håkon the Good, who visited the Viking village of Borgund, during his reign, overseeing a peasant dispute in a painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo.

Reconstructing Borgund’s Viking History From Written Sources

From a historical point of view, sagas are always taken with a pinch of salt. The reasoning for this is twofold.

First, sagas are semi-legendary or legendary in nature, bordering on mythology, and have a tendency to conflate the king’s association with gods. For example, this saga associated King Håkon ’s lineage with Sæming, son of Odin.

Second, revisionist history writing is cautious in accepting verbatim sources that are issued from the perspective of those at the apex of society, who are never fair or judicious with their representations of reality. This is largely due to the assertion of power and prestige that comes with the burden of disparately designed social hierarchies.

Then there is a reference to Borgund in relation to the Battle of Bokn in 1027 AD, which has been accepted by this group of historians and researchers as the oldest written evidence for the existence of the Viking village.

The limited written sources about Borgund in the Middle Ages refer to it as one of the “small towns” ( smaa kapstader ) in Norway. “Borgund was probably built sometime during the Viking Age,” adds Professor Hansen, who is also head of the Department of Cultural History at UIB.

Here lie the remnants of the forgotten Viking village of Borgund.

Difficulty in Reconstruction and Moving Forward

Within a hundred odd years, Borgund became the most expansive Viking village on the western coast between Trondheim and Bergen. It flourished till the mid-14th century AD, when it was actually at its peak.

However, the plague defined Europe in the Middle Ages had a terrible impact on Borgund, to such an extent that by the end of the 14th century AD, Borgund disappears from the annals of history. This coincided with the Little Ice Age which left much of northern Europe much colder and snowier than before.

Unfortunately, the recovered Borgund Viking village textiles (250 pieces in total) have suffered as no conservation effort was made to preserve them, apart from leaving them in storage. Yet, Hansen admits that she is rather grateful for even having the tattered fabrics to hold onto. Credit for the excavation in 1953 and ’54 goes to Asbjørn Herteig, one of the pioneers of modern medieval archaeology.

Herteig’s strength lay in subverting historical interests from important buildings and centers of power like churches, monasteries, and castles. His method was to assemble a meticulous collection of seemingly trivial artifacts. This included shoes’ soles, pieces of cloth, slag, potsherds (ceramic and otherwise), to name a few, that helped piece together the lives of ordinary people.

The unfinished Borgund Viking village investigations indicate a dense settlement of houses and at least three marble churches . The nearby fjord, known as Borgundfjordfisket, was a rich cod fishery that harvested in late February and early March. The inhabitants ate a lot of fish, as proven by the countless fish bones, and fishing gear artifacts found at the site.

The Borgund Viking village was probably created in the 10th century AD, and there is evidence of trade and contact with the rest of Europe, particularly Western Europe. Numerous pieces of English, German, and French tableware were found at the site.

An exchange of art, music, and fashion also occurred. The last official mention of Borgund was from 1384 AD, in a royal decree which instructed the farmers of Sunnmøre to buy their goods in the market town of Borgund.

Financed by the Norwegian Research Council, the ambitious and historically crucial documentation of Borgund Viking village has been captured in detail on the official Facebook page of the BKP and the Per Storemyr Archaeology and Conservation Group page . A five-part documentary series has been prepared by the BKP and can be accessed here . The BKP team includes archaeologists, geologists, osteologists (bone experts), metal scientists, and art historians.

Archaeologists Uncover One of the Largest Viking Longhouses in Scandinavia

Archaeologists Uncover One of the Largest Viking Longhouses in Scandinavia

Using ground-penetrating radar, scientists were able to find the Iron Age settlement and learn more about its place in Viking culture

An aerial shot shows of the site where the Viking longhouse was discovered.

Not far from where a Viking ship was unearthed in Norway three years ago, archaeologists have located one of the largest Viking longhouses ever discovered in Scandinavia, reports the Associated Press (AP). The buried structure is nearly 200 feet long and 50 feet wide.

Using ground-penetrating radar, a team led by Lars Gustavsen of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) detected the longhouse along with a cluster of others in Gjellestad, about 50 miles southeast of Oslo.

“We have found several buildings, all typical Iron Age longhouses, north of the Gjellestad ship,” says Gustavsen in “The most striking discovery is a 60-meter-long and 15-meter-wide longhouse, a size that makes it one of the largest we know of in Scandinavia.”

An archaeological team headed by Lars Gustavsen of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) has discovered what may be the largest ever Viking longhouse built in Scandinavia.

The longhouses—large communal structures commonly featured in Viking settlements—are part of what is believed to be a larger community established in the Iron Age, which dates from around 1200 to 600 B.C.E. Archaeologists found a total of five longhouses of varying sizes while using ground-penetrating radar to map the ancient village, writes Shanti Escalante-De Mattei for .

“We do not know how old the houses are or what function they had,” says Sigrid Mannsåker Gundersen, one of the archaeologists on the team, in the same statement. “Archaeological excavations and dating will help us get an answer to this.”

An earlier survey found a 130-foot-long building that may have been used for ancient rituals or as a feasting hall, reported Ida Irene Bergstrøm of Science Norway in 2022.

Researchers believe the presence of the large longhouse could indicate how wealthy and important Gjellestad was during the Viking era. They also discovered several plowed-over burial mounds in farm fields just north of the site.

“We are not surprised to have found these burial mounds, as we already know there are several others in the surrounding area,” says Gustavsen in the statement, adding, “Still, these are important to know about to get a more complete picture of Gjellestad and its surroundings.”

Located next to a large fjord, Gjellestad may have been an important base of operations for early Vikings. In the 2022 Science Norway article, archaeologist Camilla Cecilie Wenn said the region appears to have been a significant site of power.

“It’s really exciting to do a dig, one house, one ship,” said Wenn, leader of the Gjellestad excavation team. “But it’s when you see it all in a bigger context that society starts to appear.

“When you see the Gjellestad Viking ship in a wider frame, you can start appreciating the site as an important place of power for the Viking region, and not least on a national scale,” she said. “Only a handful of places in Norway are comparable.”

Gustavsen and his team plan to continue their research of the site in hopes of learning more about its importance, including how significant the village was to Viking development.

“Finding these longhouses confirms that Gjellestad was a central place in the late Iron Age,” he says in the statement. “Our hope is that within the next years, we will understand the relationship between the ship, the buildings and the rise of central places much better.”

Melting Ice Has Uncovered Hundreds of Ancient Viking Artifacts and a Previously Unknown Trade Route in Norway

Melting Ice Has Uncovered Hundreds of Ancient Viking Artifacts and a Previously Unknown Trade Route in Norway

A trove of Viking artifacts have come to light thanks to a warming climate, proving that a mountain pass served as an important trade network.

Members of the Secrets of the Ice team surveying the Lendbreen pass

A trove of about 800 Viking artifacts, some frozen in an icy mountain range in Norway for more than 1,000 years, have come to light as a result of global warming.

The revelations prove that the mountain pass served as an important part of a trade network with the rest of the Viking world and that it was likely used to transport goods such as cheese, butter, reindeer pelts, and antlers between farms.

“The Viking age is one of small-scale globalization: They’re sourcing raw materials from all over,” Søren Michael Sindbæk, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, who was not involved in the study, told Science. “This is the first site where we have good chronology and the finds to illustrate that.”

In a melted ice patch on the mountain slopes of Norway’s Innlandet County, archaeologists found a leather shoe, a woolen mitten, and a tunic. There were also feathered arrowheads, horseshoes—and a horse snowshoe—walking sticks, a piece of a sled, kitchen utensils, and even droppings from Viking packhorses.

Along the path they found stone cairns that would have marked the way, with a stone shelter built near the top of the ice patch. Collectively, these artifacts suggest that travelers were commonplace in the mountains, despite their remoteness and the harsh weather conditions.

Horseshoe from the 11th to mid-13th century, found at Lendbreen in 2022.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but high mountains sometimes did serve as major communications routes, instead of major barriers,” study co-author James Barrett told Science. “It’s easy to travel at high elevations, once you get up there and there’s snow on the ground.”

The discoveries are part of the burgeoning field of glacial archaeology, made possible as climate change shrinks ice flows around the world. Norway’s Glacier Archaeology Program, led by Innlandet County Council and the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, began research in the area in 2022, joining similar programs in other countries in researching the field.

The Norwegian “Secrets of the Ice” findings were published last week in the scientific journal Antiquity. The paper declared the Lendbreen ice patch on the Lomseggen ridge, which has been melting rapidly since 2022, to be the “first such ice site discovered in Northern Europe.” Previous finds of a similar nature had only been made in the Alps.

An archaeologist with one of the stone cairns marking the mountain pass at Lendbreen. The light-colored rocks in the background were covered with snow and ice until recently.

“Past travelers left behind lots of artifacts, frozen in time by the ice,” wrote the lead archaeologist, Lars Pilø, on the project website.

“These artifacts can tell us when people traveled, when travel was at its most intense, why people traveled across the mountains and even who the travelers were.”

“It was clearly a route of special significance,” the journal noted. The pass was in use between the years 300 and 1500 AD, and most active around the year 1000. Its use declined with the Little Ice Age, around 1300, and the Black Death, around 1400.

The Lendbreen tunic, which dates to the year 300, is the oldest piece of clothing ever found in Norway.

The first major evidence that humans ventured across inhospitable mountain passes was the discovery of Ötzi the Tyrolean Iceman in the Italian Alps in 1991. The snow and ice had preserved the man’s body for 5,300 years, allowing scientists to study the bacteria in his gut. What they found helped track the movements of pathogens, and by extension, human migration.

The find “really flipped a switch,” Stephanie Rogers, a geoscientist at Auburn University, told the New York Times. “What was that person doing up there?… if we found something in this place, we are going to find something in other places.”