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Archeologists Uncover What Could Be a Viking Boat Grave in Norway

By Holly Kellum

Archeologists in Norway have uncovered what they believe is a buried Viking boat with bones in it, leading them to believe it could be the remnants of a Viking boat grave.

While working on another dig in the center of Trondheim, archeologists at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) noticed a mound of earth, and when they opened it up, they discovered the shape of a boat and two long bones that are being tested to see if they are human.

A boat grave with a boat from Myklebostad in Nordfjord, Norway. (Knut Paasche/NIKU)
A boat grave with a boat from Myklebostad in Nordfjord, Norway. (Knut Paasche/NIKU)

“The feature, which was dug into the natural deposits, had been disturbed in several places by later pits and postholes, but it was quite clearly boat-shaped,” NIKU said in a press release.

There is no wood left, but they did find lumps of rust and some poorly preserved nails in the roughly 4-yard-long structure. A sheet of bronze was found resting against one of the bones and in a posthole (a hole dug for a post) they found a spoon and part of a key.

Archaeologist Ian Reed estimated that if the items were part of the grave, they could date back to between the seventh and the 10th centuries.

Remains of what archeologists believe is a Viking boat grave uncovered in the city of Trondheim, Norway, by a team at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research. (NIKU)
Remains of what archeologists believe is a Viking boat grave uncovered in the city of Trondheim, Norway, by a team at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research. (NIKU)

The location of the discovery, which is a ways from the current harbor and fjord, suggests that the boat grave dates back to the late Iron Age, or the early Viking Age.

NIKU’s Knut Paasche, a specialist in early boats, said it’s likely that the boat was dug down into the ground and used as a coffin, and that a burial mound was constructed over it.

Other Viking settlements, such as Birka, Gokstad, or Kaupang, all have graves in close proximity to the city center, said Paasch, but this is the first one to be found in the downtown.

 A sketch of an Åfjord boat, likely similar to a boat archeologists found the shape of in the center of Trondheim. (Nordlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten av G. Eldjarn og J. Godal, 1988 via NIKU)

A sketch of an Afjord boat, likely similar to the boat archeologists found the shape of in the center of Trondheim. (Nordlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten av G. Eldjarn og J. Godal, 1988 via NIKU)
 
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