28 January 2020

Rot Hastens Viking Ship's Excavation

This article excerpt comes to us from Norway - newsinenglish.no - where archaeologists have located another Viking ship burial. The difference this time is that Norway has not excavated a complete Viking Age ship in 114-years, and this one was found using ground penetrating radar - Georadar. Now that is definitely noteworthy.

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.)

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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.


11 January 2020

The First Vikings


Archaeology magazine alluded to this 2013 article with their article of "Possible Viking-Era Grave Discovered in Estonia," published on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. Since the 2013 article contains all the data of discovery, I include it alone. (Ed.)

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(Courtesy Liina Maldre, University of Tallinn)

The carefully stacked remains of 33 men were buried in the ship that brought them from Scandinavia to an Estonian island more than a century before the Vikings are thought to have been able to sail across such distances.



The First Vikings


Two remarkable ships may show that the Viking storm was brewing long before their assault on England and the continent

By ANDREW CURRY

July/August 2013

(Courtesy Liina Maldre, University of Tallinn)

The carefully stacked remains of 33 men were buried in the ship that brought them from Scandinavia to an Estonian island more than a century before the Vikings are thought to have been able to sail across such distances.

According to historians, the Viking Age began on June 8, A.D. 793, at an island monastery off the coast of northern England. A contemporary chronicle recorded the moment with a brief entry: “The ravages of heathen men miserably destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne, with plunder and slaughter.” The “heathen men” were Vikings, fierce warriors who sailed from Scandinavia and bore down on their prey in Europe and beyond in sleek, fast-sailing ships. In the centuries that followed, the Vikings’ vessels carried them deep into Russia and as far south as Constantinople, Sicily, and possibly even North Africa. They organized flotillas capable of carrying warriors across vast distances, and terrorized the English, Irish, and French coasts with lightning-fast raids. Exploratory voyages to the west took them all the way to North America.

The Vikings’ explosion across Europe and Asia and into the Americas was the result of the right combination of tools, technology, adventurousness, and ferocity. They came to be known as an unstoppable force capable of raiding and trading on four continents, yet our understanding of what led up to that June day on Lindisfarne is surprisingly shaky. A recent discovery on a remote Baltic island is beginning to change that. Two ships filled with slain warriors uncovered on the Estonian island of Saaremaa may help archaeologists and historians understand how the Vikings’ warships evolved from short-range, rowed craft to sailing ships; where the first warriors came from; and how their battle tactics developed. “We all agree these burials are Scandinavian in origin,” says Marge Konsa, an archaeologist at the University of Tartu. “This is our first taste of the Viking era.”

Between them, the two boats contain the remains of dozens of men. Seven lay haphazardly in the smaller of the two boats, which was found first. Nearby, in the larger vessel, 33 men were buried in a neat pile, stacked like wood, together with their weapons and animals. The site seems to be a hastily arranged mass grave, the final resting place for Scandinavian warriors killed in an ill-fated raid on Saaremaa, or perhaps waylaid on a remote beach by rivals. The archaeologists believe the men died in a battle some time between 700 and 750, perhaps almost as much as a century before the Viking Age officially began. This was an era scholars call the Vendel period, a transitional time not previously known for far-reaching voyages—or even for sails. The two boats themselves bear witness to the tremendous technological transformations in the eighth-century Baltic.

In 2008, workers digging trenches for electrical cables in the tiny island town of Salme uncovered human bones and a variety of odd objects that they unceremoniously piled next to their trench. Local authorities at first assumed the remains belonged to a luckless WWII soldier, until Konsa arrived and recognized a spearhead and carved-bone gaming pieces among the artifacts, clear signs the remains belonged to someone from a much earlier conflict. Together with a small team, Konsa dug a little deeper and soon found traces of a boat’s hull. Nearly all of the craft’s timber had rotted away, leaving behind only discolorations in the soil. But 275 of the iron rivets holding the boat together remained in place, allowing the researchers to reconstruct the outlines of the 38-foot-long craft.

Soon Konsa realized she had found something unique for this place and period. “This isn’t a fishing boat, it’s a war boat,” Konsa says. “It’s quite fast and narrow, and also quite light.” Based on radiocarbon dating of tiny fragments of boat timbers, Konsa estimates the vessel was built between 650 and 700, and perhaps repaired and patched for decades before making its final voyage. It had no sail, and would have been rowed for short stretches along the Baltic coast, or between islands to make the journey from Scandinavia to the seafarers’ hunting grounds farther east. From bones found inside the boat, Konsa pieced together the remains of the seven men, all between the ages of 18 and 45. She also found knives, whetstones, and a bone comb among the remains. The craft was a remarkable find—the first such boat ever recovered in Estonia, complete with the bodies of its slain crew.

Read more...

05 January 2020

Mysterious double Viking boat burial discovered


From FoxNews, more on the archaeological discovery in Norway. (Ed.)


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Mysterious double Viking boat burial discovered



A mysterious double Viking boat burial has been discovered in Norway, intriguing experts.


An artist's illustration of the older grave, which dates to the 8th century A.D. (Illustration: Arkikon)

Last month archaeologists excavating a site at Vinjeroa in central Norway uncovered the boat grave of a woman who died in the second half of the 9th century. Shell-shaped gilded bronze brooches and a crucifix-shaped brooch fashioned from an Irish harness fitting were found in the grave, along with a pearl necklace, two pairs of scissors, part of a spindle and a cow’s skull, according to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Archaeologists, however, were surprised to find that, instead of digging a new grave for the woman, she and her boat were placed inside a larger boat grave from 100 years earlier. The larger boat, which measures between 29.5 feet and 32.8 feet long, contains the remains of a man who was buried with his weapons.

While most of the wood from the boats has rotted away, their rivets were still in position, so archaeologists were able to identify the double boat burial. The man had been buried with a spear, a shield and a shingle-edged sword.