A Norwegian man found the smithy‘s tools under a flagstone while working in his yard. He realized he had something and called the University of Bergen; they sent archaeologists that subsequently identified the tools and grave goods as belonging to the erstwhile smithy himself. Anyway, it’s an interesting article about the apparent grave site of a man revered in Norse societies, the smithy. (Ed.)
Rare 9th Century Tools Discovered under Norwegian Garden, Revealing Status of Blacksmiths in Viking Age
Routine landscaping last year led to a Norwegian man inadvertently uncovering extremely rare Viking Age artifacts.
When Leif Arne Nordheim pulled up flagstones from his lawn, he revealed a rusty iron blacksmith’s hammer and tongs. Upon discovering a bent sword as well, he recognized the finds had significance and contacted archaeologists from and the County’s Cultural Department so an excavation could be done.
Asle Bruen Olsen, archaeologist from the University Museum of Bergen told ScienceNordic, “It turned out to be a fantastic discovery and one of the richest graves investigated in the past years in this area.”
Dating back to the 8 or 9 century A.D. in their styling, the grave goods were placed in different layers, with the order of the items indicating their status. Near the surface were found the blacksmithing tools, a sword and axe, as well as a few agricultural implements. Items found deeper down were a razor, tweezers, and scissors for beard trimming, along with a frying pan and a poker – personal items reflecting the man himself.
At the very bottom of the grave were the cremated remains of the blacksmith, with remnants of clothing, some beads, and a comb carved of bone, writes ScienceNordic. In all, around 60 artifacts were recovered from the grave, revealing not only the man’s life but also his status as a metalworker.
Blacksmiths were central figures in many ancient cultures, with featuring as a heroic master blacksmith in Norse mythology. Known for forging golden rings and setting them with beautiful gems, he featured in the Poetic Edda, a collection of ancient poems detailing Nordic literature and heritage.
Olsen said of the burial find, “We think that the blacksmiths’ contemporaries wished to show how skillful he was in his work by including such an extensive amount of objects. He might have forged many of these tools himself.”
Other noteworthy artifacts have been discovered in the area. Only a kilometer away from Leif Arne Nordheim’s home the was uncovered in 1917 by a farmer ploughing a field, writes , “The stone, found face-down over the grave of an adult male, is inscribed with about 200 runes of Elder Futhark, the oldest runic alphabet. It dates to 650-700 A.D. and is the longest surviving inscription of Elder Futhark.”
These rare blacksmith finds located in a Norwegian garden may provide insight into Viking society, and the status and significance of blacksmiths in ancient Scandinavian culture.