Category Archives: NORWAY

Iron Age skis buried under ice reunited after 1,300 years apart

Iron Age skis buried under ice reunited after 1,300 years apart

Two Iron Age skis are set for a happy reunion after 1,300 years apart, following the discovery of a second ski on an icy mountain in Norway by glacier archaeologists.

In 2014, the glacier archaeology group Secrets of the Ice uncovered a lone ski at the Digervarden ice patch in Reinheimen National Park in southern Norway.

Despite the ski’s age, its icy burial kept it well preserved, and even its original binding — where the skier placed their foot — remained intact. At the time, it was only one of two skis dating to more than 1,000 years ago with preserved binding, Secrets of the Ice reported in an Oct. 5 post.

The team monitored the ice patch for the next seven years, hoping that the melting ice would reveal the ski’s missing partner. Their patience paid off; in September, they spotted the second ski just 16 feet (5 meters) from the spot where the first one was found.

“The new ski is even better preserved than the first one!” Lars Pilø, a glacial archaeologist and the editor of the Secrets of the Ice website, wrote in the post. “It is an unbelievable find.”

Getting the second Iron Age ski to the lab for analysis was not an easy task. After satellite data suggested substantial ice melt at the ski-discovery spot on the mountain, the team hiked up and found the second ski on Sept. 20.

But they didn’t have the right tools to safely free it from the ice, so they left it there. Then, an autumn storm complicated the recovery effort by dumping a lot of snow, burying the ski again. 

When the researchers returned on Sept. 26, they were ready — carrying ice axes, gas cookers and packing materials they could wrap the ski in for the hike back.

After a three-hour hike, they finally found the ski under 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow, thanks to their GPS tracker. Brushing off the snow was easy enough, but the ice had an “iron grip” on the ski, so the team used ice picks and lukewarm water heated on gas cookers to free the ski, Pilø wrote in the post. 

Skiing mystery

Both skis predate the Viking Age (A.D. 793 to 1066), and both are broad with a raised foothold and preserved binding. The skis are roughly the same size — the newfound one is 6.1 feet (1.87 m) long and 6.6 inches (17 cm) wide, slightly longer and wider than the first ski.

However, the new ski was buried about 16 feet (5 m) deeper than the previously found one, so it was better preserved, and that may account for the size differences, according to the post.

The bindings of the newfound ski are made from three twisted birch pieces, a leather strap and a wooden plug that fits through a hole in the foothold area. In contrast, the previously found ski had only one preserved twisted birch binding and a leather strap.

“There are subtle differences in the carvings at the front of the skis,” Pilø added. “The back end of the new ski is pointed, while the back end of [the] 2014 ski is straight.”

But archaeologists didn’t expect the skis to be identical. “The skis are handmade, not mass-produced,” Pilø wrote. “They have a long and individual history of wear and repair before an Iron Age skier used them together and they ended up in the ice 1,300 years ago.”

What’s more, the foothold of the new ski shows signs of repair, indicating it was well used. The back of the ski is missing, but it’s possible that this piece is still hiding under the ice, they said. On both skis, the upper part of the toe bindings, made of twisted birch, is missing.

The new ski also answers an important question: Did the skis have fur on their undersides? The 2014 ski didn’t have any nail holes along its sides that could have fastened a fur, the team said. Moreover, the newfound ski has a furrow on its underside, which would have been useless if fur was on it, so these skis were probably not fur-lined, the archaeologists noted.

The team is thrilled with the find — after all, this is the “best-preserved prehistoric pair of skis in the world,” Pilø wrote — but the skis’ discovery brings up more questions than answers; mainly, what happened to their owner?

Hunting artifacts and monuments on the mountain suggest that it was a prehistoric reindeer-hunting location. Moreover, several rock cairns may have been part of a mountain trail crossing, the team said. So, perhaps the owner was a hunter, traveler or both, Pilø wrote in the post. It’s possible that the owner was hit by an avalanche, or suffered from another accident. Or maybe the owner left the skis behind after the toe bindings broke.

“Is the skier still inside the ice at Mount Digervarden? This is probably hoping for too much,” Pilø wrote. “What we can say for sure is that we have not seen the last finds from the Digervarden ice patch. We will be back.”

Remarkably Massive Viking Longhouse Discovered in Norway

Remarkably Massive Viking Longhouse Discovered in Norway

While excavating near the ruins of a 17th century royal estate near the village of Sem in the Eiker district of southeastern Norway, archaeologists unearthed dozens of ancient postholes spread around the faint but unmistakable outline of a Viking longhouse.

The architectural structure would have been of tremendous size. Early indications suggest it was probably constructed during the Viking Age , which in Norway lasted from approximately 800 AD to the year 1066.

Postholes Provide Clues to the Viking Longhouse’s Distinctive Architecture

Postholes were a standard feature of longhouses, regardless of when they might have been built. Heavy wooden posts were needed to support the walls and roofs of these massive construction projects and the posts had to be firmly anchored in the ground. But the placement of the postholes at the newly discovered Viking longhouse is curious and unique, since they were only set up to support the walls.

Outside the outline formed by the first set of postholes, about 11 feet (3.5 meters) away, there were more postholes dug in straight lines. According to the Norwegian archaeologists, these would have supported separate roofing material that covered passageways running along the outside of the main structure. Given the distance between the outer and inner postholes, the archaeologists think the outer posts may have been slanted inward, bracing the outer walls to keep them from bowing under the weight of the structure’s roof.

An overview picture of the extraordinary house. Poles have been placed in the post holes. This is, however, only a small part of the house according to the archaeologists.

With the wood used to make the walls and roof of the house long gone, there is no way to know for sure what the house looked like when it was in use and how exactly it was designed. But the one thing the archaeologists can determine with certainty is the size of the house and they know it was huge by ancient standards.

From one outer posthole line to another, the longhouse measured 52 feet (16 meters) across. As for its length, that is yet to be determined—but there is no doubt the house was much longer than it was wide.

“It’s an extraordinary building, and we haven’t excavated the whole thing,” Løchsen Rødsrud explained. He noted that the outline of the house is currently bisected by a road, and that no digging will take place in the field on the other side of the road until next year.

“I expect the house is much longer,” Løchsen Rødsrud said. “Twice or three times as long as it is wide.” If this estimate is correct, it means the house could be as much as 150 feet (45 meters) long from end to end. This would make it a true long house, by the standards of any place or time.

Excavation work documenting the postholes which are providing clues about the architecture of the supposedly Viking longhouse.

The Hoen Hoard and Viking History in Southeastern Norway

The area around the newly discovered longhouse and the former royal estate in Sem has been famous since the 19th century. Or since 1834, to be more exact. That was the year that a stunned farmworker from the village of Hokkslund found a solid gold ring while digging in a bog on the plantation of his employer.

After the excited worker informed the landowner what he’d found the two of them dug down further. In the end, they recovered what would turn out to be the largest and most valuable Viking Age gold treasure ever found in Scandinavia.

The so-called Hoen Hoard , named for the owner of the farm who generously decided to split the treasure with the laborer who found it, included 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) of golden coins and golden jewelry of different types and sizes. The hoard is believed to have been buried between 875 to 890, which coincides with the time when Viking ships were most active raiding and trading up and down the European coast.

There are approximately 50 jewelry pieces, 200 coins and more than 200 pearls and semi-precious stones in this priceless collection. While this gold could have been acquired through legitimate trading activity, it may also have been plundered from elite European homes during ninth century Viking raids. The gold and stones have been identified as coming from continental Europe and the Middle East, so there is no doubt it was not locally sourced.

The village of Hokkslund, where the Hoen Hoard was found, was a prominent port city in the Viking Age . The spot where the farmers dug up the gold is just 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) from the excavated 17th century royal estate at Sem, which highlights how much wealth circulated through the Eiker district of southeastern Norway between the peak of the Viking Age and the time when the country was ruled by hereditary monarchs.

Experts believe there were approximately 120 farms and about 3,000 people living in this region during the ninth century. The presence of a huge Viking longhouse and the most valuable Viking treasure ever found shows that wealthy and influential people were well-represented among that number.

There were definitely fortunes to be made in Eiker, thanks to the abundance of fertile farmland and to the ease with which large merchant ships could travel up and down the Drammen River, which had a water level that was 18 to 20 feet (five to six meters) higher 1,000 years ago than it is today. So perhaps the Hoen Hoard was imported to the region and then sold to an ultra-wealthy aristocrat or landowner by the Viking traders or raiders who’d acquired it. Or maybe such a person financed some Viking trading or raiding missions and was entitled to take possession of the most valuable items they recovered.

The Hoen treasure, which was found in 1834, is the largest treasure find from the Viking Age in Norway.

But Was This Really a Viking Longhouse?

At the moment, the archaeologists who found the supposed “Viking longhouse” near the royal estate in Sem are most concerned with figuring out its exact age. “We are very excited about which part of prehistoric or historical times it belongs to,” Løchsen Rødsrud said.

As of now, the house has been tentatively identified as a Viking Age construction project. This is because of its architectural style, which is consistent with other Viking fortresses that were built in Denmark in the late first millennium.

The design of those buildings was customized to produce tall, long and wide structures, like the longhouse discovered at the Sem site. Such an approach to construction was most convenient for Viking Age farmers, since Viking longhouses were multi-purpose buildings that contained living spaces, workshops, cattle barns and crop storage areas all under one roof.

But the linking of the expansive longhouse to the Viking Age remains in question. This is because pottery shards have been found inside some of the postholes, and these ceramics were apparently manufactured several centuries earlier, during the Scandinavian Iron Age (500 BC to 800 AD).

The postholes could have been dug during the Viking Age on top of a much older settlement, which left pottery pieces littered across the landscape. But that is only one possibility. “If these shards are not random, the house is much older than the aforementioned houses from the Viking Age. In that case, it’s quite a sensation,” Christian Løchsen Rødsrud stated.

To definitively discover the age of the structure, the archaeologists will have to wait for the results of radiocarbon dating tests that are currently being performed on seeds and charcoal recovered during the longhouse excavation. Once they know for sure when the house was built and by whom, they will gain some new and valuable insights into the construction practices of at least some ancient Norwegians, be they Vikings or earlier occupants of the Eiker region.

Viking Burial, Sword, and Treasure Unearthed During Home Remodeling Excavation

Viking Burial, Sword, and Treasure Unearthed During Home Remodeling Excavation

Little did Oddbjørn Holum Heiland know what he would find when he embarked on a Friday night project, commencing excavation work behind his 1740 Setesdalshouse alongside his wife, Anne.

Long story short, the oblong top of a gravestone and the iron hilt of a sword, both related to the Viking Age, were discovered! The full significance of the discovery? A stunning Viking burial site that was completely unexplored.

Their plan was to extend the house, creating additional space in the rear. Speaking to Science in Norway over the phone from Setesdal in Southern Norway, Heiland mentioned, “I initially intended to do just a small amount of digging on the slope behind the house, to create some distance between the house and the surrounding land.” But what a can of worms was opened!

A Grave and a Sword: Surprising Finds

As Heiland removed the grass and topsoil, an oblong stone came into view. Paying little attention to it, he set it aside and continued digging. However, as the digging bucket penetrated the next layer—the moraine beneath the topsoil—a surprising iron object emerged.

Heiland recounted, “I looked at it and thought, ‘This looks a lot like a sword blade .’ And when I emptied the contents of the digging bucket, the hilt of a sword fell out.”

A rare to discovery of Viking sword and Viking graves. Expert and homeowners examine the find.

Suddenly, it dawned on Oddbjørn that the stone he had just uncovered might be a gravestone. Curiosity led him to conduct a brief online search, where he stumbled upon an almost identical sword from the Viking Age discovered in another region of the country some time ago. “That’s when I realized that this must be Viking-related,” he admitted.

Demonstrating commendable responsibility, Oddbjørn promptly ceased his excavation activities, safely stored the unearthed items, and wasted no time in contacting the county municipality on Monday morning.

In a swift response, county archaeologist Joakim Wintervoll from Agder County municipality and Jo-Simon Frøshaug Stokke from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo arrived the following day to examine the remarkable find – it was their assessment that confirmed the profundity of the find.

(Right) Detail of the hilt, the handle of the sword, which reveals that this sword is from the Viking Age.

The sword’s construction provides archaeologists with valuable insights for dating the discovery. Comprising two sword fragments, the recovered pieces form a sword measuring 70 cm (27.5 in) in length, with a blade width of 5 cm (1.96 in) at its widest point.

The hilt, an item influenced by fashion trends, exhibits a style that places it around the late 800s to early 900s, reports Arkeonews.

Previous Digs and Other Finds at the Site

Oddbjørn and Anne Holum Heiland had sought approval for their house extension, considering they reside in a historical dwelling dating back to 1740. “Given the distance from other cultural heritage sites,” Wintervoll remarks, “we did not anticipate the likelihood of finding anything significant in that particular area.”

Furthermore, Anne’s parents had conducted excavations around the house in the 1970s. Thus, it appears purely coincidental that the grave site had remained undisturbed until now.

In addition to the sword and potential gravestone, the Setesdal grave yielded a lance—a long spear designed for mounted warfare. However, as of now, no further indications suggest that this is the burial site of a mounted warrior.

Gilded belt buckle and glass beads also among the finds in the Viking burial in Norway.

Other remarkable items discovered include gilded glass beads and a belt buckle . Notably, while placing the buckle in the designated museum box, a glimmer of gold caught their attention, leading to the belief that the buckle itself might be gilded. Lastly, a bronze brooch, featuring a typical Viking animal motif, was also found. These brooches were commonly used to fasten capes securely in place.

Gender and Age: Challenges and Politics of Viking Burials

Stokke further explains that collection of weapons and jewelry suggest it’s a site rather than a grave. Very few Vikings were wealthy enough to afford extravagant possessions like helmets and swords, despite what popular historical sentiment about them might feel like. This particular grave was clearly that of a person from a higher social status, with access to resources.

The jewelry was an indicator that the grave was that of a man, not a woman. Men appreciated luxurious possessions and it was not uncommon for men’s graves to yield jewelry.

As of now, it is difficult to indicate the gender and age of the deceased person’s age, due to decomposition of bones and other organic matter.

Lost Mountain Pass Found in Norway and it’s Full of Viking Artifacts

Lost Mountain Pass Found in Norway and it’s Full of Viking Artifacts

Melting of glaciers in many Scandinavian countries has unearthed a lost viking mountain pass. And it was in 2011 that the hot sun of summer began to melt the Lendbreen Glacier at the Lomseggen mountain ridge in Breheimen National Park in Norway about two hundred miles from Oslo.

Since then, archaeologists have discovered a former mountain pass used during the Viking era as a route for people traveling between valleys, such as Bøverdalen and Ottadalen.

Some moved from permanent farms in valleys to summer farms at higher altitudes while others were traveling a long way, possibly even out of Norway.

The Lendbreen ice patch.

Some of the treasure trove of artifacts found on the passage have been dated from 4,000 B.C. and include Viking swords, clothing, horse skulls, a three thousand four hundred year old shoe made from untanned animal hide found in 2006, arrowheads with wooden shafts, and a large amount of horse dung.

Dr. Lars Holger Pilø, co-director of the Glacier Archaeology Program at Oppland County Council in Norway, began the glacier archaeology in 2011 after a complete Iron Age tunic from Lendbreen was found. Results and images of these findings can also be found at Secrets of the Ice.

The ruins of a stone-built shelter in the pass.
Iron Age tunic dated to 300 AD.

Over the next several years, more than one thousand objects have been discovered, but only about sixty have been carbon dated. According to National Geographic, most of the items have been found in a melting ice patch which preserves objects better than if they fell into a glacier.

Glacier ice moves and usually destroys any relics that have been dropped there, but ice patches stay in place, preserving articles for thousands of years.

Wooden bit used for goat kids and lambs to not get their mother’s milk, as it was used for human consumption.
A wooden whisk, radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD.

Pilø also discovered a small rock shelter and stacked rock formations called cairns used as sort of road signs guiding travelers through the pass as they moved about Norway leading him to believe that the pass was a busy travel route for almost one thousand years.

Traffic in the pass was reduced after the Viking Age which could have been the result of the Bubonic plague that emerged in 1190 BC and decimated Norway, wiping out up to two-thirds of the population in the fourteenth century.

A ”tong” found by two team members in the mountain pass at Lendbreen.
Ancient horseshoe found at Lendbreen.

Another factor could have been a colder period, the Little Ice Age, perhaps caused by the eruption of Mt. Hekla in the south of Iceland in 1159 BC which was comparable to the eruption of Mt.

Vesuvius in 79 AD according Dr. Philip Norrie of the University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine in Australia in his 2016 book, A History of Disease in Ancient Times at Springer Link.

Shoe from the 11th century AD.

Dr. Pilø, in Smithsonian Magazine, notes that there were several pandemics during the middle ages, all of which impacted population, lifestyle, and travel.

Fewer people traveled either to summer farms or long-distance. Later, as population and life normalized, the pass had become a distant memory, used by few.

Dated to the 10th century AD, this is a very well-preserved textile containing its original blue color.

The finds at Lendbreen have been of great archeological value. But there may be a problem now. Once organic ancient artifacts such as textiles, leather, wood, wool, and bone are exposed to air and light they deteriorate quickly and must be harvested right away to preserve them.

Ice archaeologists have covered an area of about forty-five acres at Lendbreen, possibly the largest glacial archaeology survey ever performed.

Viking Age spear, originally found in one piece in front of the Lendbreen ice patch of the Viking mountain pass.

The 2019 season yielded a big melt and another fruitful season with the remains of a dog still wearing a collar and leash, the bones of pack horses and a sled, and more horseshoes as well as a horse snowshoe from possibly from the 11th to about the 14th century.

The Mysterious Underwater Land Mass Known as the ‘British Atlantis’

The Mysterious Underwater Land Mass Known as the ‘British Atlantis’

The area known as Doggerland is a real-life Atlantis from a time when the British Isles were neither British nor Isles.

The land occupied a great portion of where the waters of the North Sea extend nowadays.

After the last major Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago, the area got flooded over time by the rising sea levels.

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 10,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain and continental Europe.

Just like London mudlarks retrieve all sorts of memorabilia and historical items from the Thames riverbed, fishermen in the North Sea have reported findings including ancient bones, artifacts, and 9,000-year-old tools.

Dutch and British archaeologists and paleontologists were immediately interested by the discoveries as they were evidence for the existence of Doggerland.

This could be a leftover from Doggerland.

Named after the Dogger Bank, Doggerland was first mentioned in a book A Story of the Stone Age by H.G. Wells, written in the late 19th century. The book suggested the existence of a prehistoric region that fused Britain’s east coast with the European mainland.

Archaeologists at the University of Bradford are working on a huge project to reconstruct the ancient Doggerland landscape which is now underneath the sea.

They are aiming to produce a 3D chart of the landscape with the help of seabed mapping data gathered by energy companies.

The red line marks Dogger Bank, which is most likely a moraine formed in the Pleistocene.

In the meantime, scientists wait on core sediment samples to extract DNA fragments from plants and animals, so that we can learn more about the flora and fauna that once existed.

Before the last glacial period, the vast piece of land that connected Europe and Britain consisted of a diverse mix of gentle hills, swampland, and dense forests.

With the lessening of the huge weight of ice, melting water got locked away which caused the land to tilt in an isostatic adjustment.

Early Holocene landscape features mapped by the North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project.

The ancient region was inhabited by thousands of Mesolithic Stone Age settlers. It was also a very important land bridge between Europe and Britain.

According to the evidence gathered, scientists believe that the Doggerlanders were nomadic hunter-gatherers who migrated with the season. They lived on hunting, fishing, and gathering foods such as berries, nuts, and mushrooms.

Map of Doggerbank, 1867.

For hundreds of years, fishermen have pulled up all kinds of finds in their nets in the area off the coast of Dogger Bank.

In 1931, there was a famous discovery of a lump of peat which contained an ornate barbed antler point used for harpooning fish. It was hauled up near the Ower Bank, 25 miles off the English coast.

Woolly mammoth skull discovered by fishermen in the North Sea, at the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum, Ireland.

It is most likely that Doggerland was habitable until 10,000 BC and that the last remaining island was flooded in a single gigantic event some 8,000 years ago.

There was an enormous landslide off the coast of Norway, the Storegga Slide, in which an estimated 180-mile length of the coastal shelf crashed in the Norwegian Sea. That triggered a tsunami in the North Atlantic Ocean with waves up to 17 feet in height.

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland from Weichselian glaciation until the current situation.

“The only populated lands on earth that have not yet been explored in any depth are those which have been lost underneath the sea,” says Professor Vince Gaffney, Anniversary Chair in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford.

The study of this long-forgotten, sunken Stone Age habitat is important so that we can learn about the ultimate outcomes of potentially rising sea levels.

Experts who study and research Doggerland are attempting to connect the events that caused the disappearance of the land with present day possibilities.

South-Pawed Viking’s Sword Discovered In 1000-Year-Old Burial Mound

South-Pawed Viking’s Sword Discovered In 1000-Year-Old Burial Mound

Norwegian archaeologists have discovered a 1000-year-old grave containing a rare Viking sword next to the body of what must have been an equally rare left-handed (south-pawed) Norse warrior.

Vinjeøra is a village situated at the end of the Vinjefjorden (Vinje Fjord) on the European route E39 highway, about 12 kilometers south of the municipal center of Kyrksæterøra in the municipality of Heim in the Trøndelag county of Norway.

It was during recent road expansion works on the E39 route through Vinjeøra that four warrior’s graves were discovered near a series of earthen mounds , and while one contained the body of a woman another yielded the remains of an 8th or 9th century local warrior who had been ceremonially buried with his spear, ax, shield and sword – but something was highly-unusual about the arrangement of this warriors grave.

Grave Evidence Included Bird Bones And A Very Heavy Sword!

The four, partially overlapping, graves were found in a circular ditch that was built around the base of one of the earthen mounds. Dr Raymond Sauvage, an archaeologist at the NTNU University Museum and project manager for the Viking warrior’s excavation, told Science Norway that he believes this burial practice is an expression of “how important the family’s ancestors were on a farm in Viking times.”

The doctor explained that in the Viking Age companion ancestor spirits , called “fylgjur,” were believed to live in these burial mounds.

One of the beads found in what was likely a Viking woman’s grave in the same group of four graves where the left-handed Viking warrior was discovered.

In the same ring ditch as the warrior’s grave, researchers discovered the cremated remains of a woman with an “oval brooch, a pair of scissors and beads.”

They also recovered many more bones than is normal, including bird bones . One theory is that the bones might have had “magical properties,” and that they possibly played an important role in a Viking burial ritual .

According to the Science Norway article, it was archaeologist Astrid Kviseth who finally lifted the sword from its 1000-year-old grave and placed it in its specially prepared padded box.

She said that while she didn’t exactly know how heavy the sword would be, “it had some heft to it” and that you would need to be “pretty strong to be able to swing this sword!”

Viking Swords: Sacred, Named, Spiritualized Heirlooms

To Vikings, swords were exceptionally sacred, named heirlooms that were passed from father to son for generations. And in the Viking Age, swords were clear status symbols of elite warriors.

Since swords were so difficult to forge, they were expensive and so swords were rare even in Viking times. Chapter 3 of the Icelandic Fóstbræðra saga states that from the “100+ weapons found in Viking Age pagan burials in Iceland, only 16 were swords.”

And in Chapter 13 of Laxdæla saga the sword given by King Hákon to Höskuldur was said to be worth “a half mark of gold,” equal to the value of sixteen milk cows, a very substantial sum in the Viking Age.

Dr Sauvage said that during Viking burials in the early Middle Ages “swords were usually placed on the right side of the body in weapon graves like this,” because most people were right-handed, and therefore most warriors fastened their swords on their left side for ease of drawing.

Dr Sauvage thinks the reason most swords are found on the right side is because Vikings believed the underworld was a “mirror image of the upper world.” In the newly discovered Norwegian grave, the warrior’s sword was found lying along his left side.

Swords are usually placed on the right side of the body in weapon graves like this. In this grave, it was laid on the warrior’s left side.

Viking Swords Were Rare But Lefty Warriors Were Even Rarer!

Trying to account for why this singular sword was discovered on the warriors left side, the logical side, Sauvage thinks this might have been because the Viking was “left handed,” which makes the sword, or at least the warrior, an exceptionally rare discovery.

And putting this “rarity” into context, according to a 2014 paper published in Frontiers in Psychology most modern studies suggest that approximately 90% of the world population is and was right-handed, therefore, this Viking belonged to a sub-group of 10% of Norse warriors.

The discovery of this left-handed Viking warrior’s sword has caused the team of Norwegian archaeologists endless excitement, but this prized ancient artifact is currently encased in a thick crust of corrosion, but when it’s eventually analyzed the archaeologists hope x-rays might reveal “ornamentation or pattern welding in the blade,” said Kviseth.

And if this is the case, and Viking symbols are indeed discovered on the blade, then the University Museum will need to sit down with their insurance adjustors to discuss the new, and greatly increased, premium.

5,000-Year-Old Rock Carving Depicting Skier in Norway Destroyed by Youths

5,000-Year-Old Rock Carving Depicting Skier in Norway Destroyed by Youths

Two vandals have irreparably damaged a 5,000-year-old rock carving in Norway, which is the oldest known depiction of a figure on skis. The famous carving was used as a symbol of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, but the ancient artwork has now been scratched over and according to researchers, it is impossible to recover it.

According to the Telegraph, two Norwegian youths claimed that they had been trying to improve the historical site protected by Norway’s Cultural Heritage Act.

They used a sharp object to scratch along the lines of the carving, apparently intending to make them clearer for other visitors. The carving is located on the island Tro off Nordland in northern Norway.

It provides one of the earliest depictions of skiing by a human who lived during the Stone Age. 

The logo for the Lillehammer Olympics
How the drawing originally looked

The violation was reported by Tor-Kristian Storvik, county archeologist for Norway’s Nordland Country, who was informed about the damage by someone with a holiday house on the island.

When he realized that a sharp object had been used to deface the carvings, he reported it to the police. The new lines are both in and outside where the old marks had been.

Apart from the carving of a skier, a depiction of a whale, which formed part of the same scene, also suffered serious damage.

The two boys, who damaged the national treasure, publically apologized for the vandalism. They explained that it was done with good intentions and had no idea that their idea of making the carving more visible would destroy a piece of Norway’s priceless heritage.

The boy’s identities have been kept anonymous due to the outrage that has spread around the world in news outlets and on social media. It is still unknown if and how the boys will be punished.

The symbol scratched over by the youth

It is not the first time that a priceless artifact has been destroyed by a tourist. In August 2015, a boy from Taiwan tripped and fell into a painting worth of 1.5 million dollars , leaving a fist-sized hole.

In another case, a Spanish woman destroyed a fresco of Jesus which had brought much-needed tourism money to her small town. The church that owned the painting was able to raise more than $66,000 for a local charity with the proceeds from curious tourists.

Skiing has been an important part of Scandinavian culture for thousands of years. As April Holloway from Ancient Origins reported in October 20, 2014:

”The melting of the long-frozen snow and ice in Norway, and elsewhere around the world, has already yielded numerous ancient artifacts, from hunting tools to goat-skin leggings, shoes, and even Otzi the Iceman, the remains of a man who lived more than 5,000 years ago. Now archaeologists have recovered an ancient ski complete with its binding, believed to date back some 1,300 years.

The ancient ski found in Norway

Reports that the wooden ski, which measures 172 centimeters long and 14.5 centimeters wide, was discovered in a glacier in what’s now Reinheimen National Park in the mountains of Lesja in Oppland. Incredibly, even the leather binding, which was mounted on a raised portion in the middle of the ski, was still well-preserved.

Historians have long known that Norwegians were skiing more than a thousand years ago, and now they have the proof.

Skiing, which originated as a form of travel rather than a sport, is known to have a history of around seven millennia. Ancient carvings dating back circa 5000 BC depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway.

The Kalvträskskidan ski, found in Sweden dates to 3300 BC, and the Vefsn Nordland ski, found in Norway is dated to 3200 BC.”

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.