Scientists hope to excavate the entire area as soon as possible out of fears that the ship could be lost due to rot, and to discover what else may be buried there. I can hardly wait for more on this developing story. (Ed.)
January 20, 2020
Archaeologists and Norway’s director of cultural heritage are calling for rapid excavation of a Viking ship found buried in a field at Gjellestad near Halden in the fall of 2018. They’ve won initial support from government officials, setting the stage for what could be the first full-scale Viking ship excavation in Norway for 114 years.
|Preliminary excavation work at the Viking ship site at Gjellestad was carried out late last summer. Now experts recommend a full-scale dig of the entire area.|
PHOTO: Riksantikvaren/Lene Buskoven
“A Viking ship is so important for Norwegian history, and we have an international responsibility here,” said Ola Elvestuen, government minister in charge of culture and the environment, just after test results from the site were presented on Friday. They were extracted during careful and preliminary digging around the vessel in August and September of last year.
Samples from the so-called “Gjellestad-ship’s” keel found last year have revealed signs of mildew or dry rot, indicating that the vessel could rapidly deteriorate if left in the ground. The overall condition of the ship was described as poor.
“When it’s no longer an alternative to take care of the vessel by letting it remain in the ground, this is no longer about how much of the ship should be dug out, but about when, how and to what degree it should be done,” Elvestuen added. He fears, along with the experts, that much of the vessel may rot away unless a major excavation gets underway “in the course of quite a short time.”
Project leader Christian Glorstad of the University of Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History showed a sample of the Viking ship to Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen and Riksantikvar Hanna Geiran, Norway’s director general of cultural monuments. PHOTO: KMD
The vessel’s discovery through the use of georadar made international news in the fall of 2018. It’s believed to have been buried along with a Viking chief referred to in one of the sagas as “King Jell” in the area that’s also believed to contain five Viking langhus (literally, long houses that housed both people and animals) and at least 10 burial mounds. Two of the houses date from the years 400-500 while the ship has been linked to the early Viking period that ran from around 800-1050AD. Archaeologists have dated it to 733AD at the earliest.