Norway: Hidden Viking ship discovered

Ground radar reveals remnants of a longboat under a former burial mound

Reconstruction of the Viksletta in the norwegian area Discover Grave Hill with Viking Ship © LBI ArchPro
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Spectacular find: In Norway, archaeologists have discovered remains of a Viking burial mound with a Viking ship buried in it. The 20-meter-long long boat is at least partially well preserved, as suggested by radar investigations. That's just the third Viking ship that was found in good condition in Norway. Exciting also: In the vicinity of the ship, the researchers have discovered the remains of eight other Viking burial mounds and five longhouses.

The Vikings dominated the seas of Europe for centuries and even advanced to Greenland and North America. Their settlements and trading centers, but also military fortresses covered the coastal areas of northern Europe and the British Isles. Their close ties to the sea and shipping were also evident in their graves: High-ranking Vikings were often buried under a burial mound with a ship.

Viking ship under the field

Such a burial mound together with a Viking ship has now been discovered by archaeologists in southeastern Norway. Using a high-resolution ground radar, the researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) identified the outline of a 20-meter-long ship about 50 centimeters below the ground surface. While the overlying burial mound is now cleared of plowing, the ship still seems well preserved, at least in the lower part.

Ground radar image of the Viking ship © LBI ArchPro

"We are sure that a ship is buried here. How much is actually preserved, is difficult to say before further research, "says Morten Hanisch, State Conservator of Østfold. But there is clear evidence that the keel and the lower part of the ship are still well preserved in this grave. Further non-destructive investigations are planned to digitally map this particular find and the surrounding landscape.

More burial mounds and longhouses

"This find is extremely exciting, as we only know three well-preserved Viking ships in Norway, all dug out over 100 years ago, " explains Knut Paasche from the NIKU. "This ship is of great historical importance because we can study it with the most modern means of archeology." Display

As further investigations by means of ground radar revealed, the Viking ship is not the only Viking legacy in this area: "This ship finds not isolated, but was part of a large field, which represented power and influence from far away" says Lars Gustavsen, project manager at NIKU. Close to the ship, the archaeologists have located the remains of eight other tombs destroyed by the plow.

In addition to the once monumental burial mounds, the ground radar has unearthed the remains of five longhouses, some of them of considerable size, the researchers report. Thus, the newly discovered grass field could be as extensive as that of the Borre deposit in Vestfold on the opposite side of the Oslo fjord. It is considered one of the richest gatherings of Kinggrubs of the Vikings in Scandinavia.

Discovery of the Viking Ship and the Grabh gel LBI ArchPro

(Ludwig Boltzmann Society, 16.10.2018 - NPO)