***Millenium-old Viking burial boat unearthed under a market square in Norway
LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2017 AT 7:05 PM BY MIHAI ANDREI
The boat, which measured at least 4 meters (13ft) long, was buried on a north-south direction under what is today the city’s trading center.
|The Oseberg ship, Kulturhistorisk museum (Viking Ship Museum), Oslo, Norway. Credits: Daderot.|
“Careful excavation revealed that no wood remained intact, but lumps of rust and some poorly-preserved nails indicated that it was a boat that was buried here,” archaeologist Ian Reed of NIKU said in a statement.
|The boast is damaged several places by pits and post holes. Cautious excavation has revealed that there is no wood left but clumps of rust and some poorly preserved nails that show that this is probably a boat grave. Credits: NIKU.|
“This suggests that there was a human skeleton contained within the boat. Because of the poor state of preservation we will have to carry out DNA tests to be 100% certain that the bones are human, says Reed.”
The dig also revealed a small piece of sheet bronze, located up against one of the bones, as well as what appears to be personal items from the grave.
NIKU’s Knut Paasche, a specialist in early boats, says that the boat had been dug up into the ground and likely covered up by a burial mount which has since eroded with the development of the city. As legend has it, Trondheim was founded by the Viking King Olav Tryggvason in the year 997, but archaeological evidence indicates that the area was inhabited for thousands of years.
|Boat graves are not unusual in Norway. Here is a boat grave with a boat/ ship from Myklebostad in Nordfjord. Photo: Knut Paasche, NIKU.|
“In a posthole dug through the middle of the boat we found a piece of a spoon and part of a key for a chest. If this is from the grave then it can probably be dated from the 7th to the 10th century, says Reed.”
|Sketcth of an Åfjord boat. The boat in the grave is likely similar to this boat. Source: Nordlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten av G. Eldjarn og J. Godal, 1988.|
The practice of burial ships is ancient in Scandinavia, dating from at least the Nordic Bronze Age, around 1500 BCE. The Hjortspring boat (400-300 BC) or the Nydam boats (200-450 AD) are some of the oldest evidence, but the practice was significant through the centuries. Man and sea were intertwined for the Vikings, during life — and even after it.