27 November 2021

Gjellestad was a major Viking burial ground, new research reveals

 This installment from Medievalists briefs us on a very important archaeological site in southeastern Norway, off Oslo fjord, that is believed to be the largest Viking burial site extant. (Ed.)


Gjellestad, Norway, is home to the Jell Mound, one of the largest early medieval funerary mounds in all of Scandinavia. However, new research suggests that this is just scratching the surface— the site may also feature a previously unknown Viking ship burial, cult site, and feast hall.

The discovery, published in the journal Antiquity, was made without digging up the site. Instead, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was used to map features below the surface. This survey began in 2017 to determine if construction plans would put any archaeology near the Jell Mound at risk. Historical records indicate three other funeral mounds at the site were demolished in the 19th century, suggesting there is more to the site than meets the eye. However, it turns out that even the three demolished mounds are just the tip of the iceberg.

The GPR showed 13 burial mounds once existed at Gjellestad, some over 30 metres wide. One of these mounds features an anomaly in the GPR data that likely represents a buried ship. Such ship burials were likely reserved for powerful Viking individuals. Additionally, the researchers found a farmhouse in the GPR data. They also spotted a large building, likely a feast hall, and another hall that does not appear intended for habitation. Instead, it may be a cult house or other religious structure.

Location of Gjellestad close to the eastern shores of the Oslofjord, Norway, along with well-known contemporaneous sites around the Oslofjord (map source: © Kartverket/CC-BY-4.0; figure by L. Gustavsen).

23 November 2021

Viking Temple to Thor and Odin Unearthed In Norway

Ancient Origins has posted this interesting article on archaeologists discovery of a temple to the  Norse gods Thor and Odin. Little is known about the religious beliefs of the Vikings, so this find is especially valuable. (Ed.)


Viking temple to Thor and Odin

Viking Temple to Thor and Odin Unearthed In Norway

The Viking Age has fascinated people for generations and now we have a newly discovered ancient Viking temple that has finally shed some new light on Norse religion . Believe it or not, there is a lot we don’t know about these fearsome warriors and daring explorers. For example, scholars know relatively little about specific Viking religious practices. For this reason, the discovery of this ancient Viking temple in Norway, dedicated to the Norse Gods, is an exceptionally important discovery.

An Early Viking Settlement And A Rare Ancient Viking Temple
Recently, a group of archaeologists, from the University Museum of Bergen, have been excavating a massive site on the Ose farm near ├śrsta, in western Norway. Their work is part of a recovery project before the construction of a massive new housing project in the area. The experts believe that the site was an early Viking era settlement that dates to 1200 years ago, based on the remains of longhouses found there. Traces of an even earlier agricultural settlement were also found.