In Brief

A 1,000-Year-Old Viking Ship Burial Was Discovered Underneath a Norwegian Farm

The ship, which dates back to the Viking Period or the earlier Merovingian period, was found with the help of a high-resolution, ground-penetrating georadar.

A georadar truck surveying a farm on the island of Edøy in Møre and Romsdal County (all images courtesy of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research)

Archaeologists in Norway say they have discovered the remains of a 1,000-year-old Viking ship beneath the soil of a farm on the island of Edøy in Møre and Romsdal County. The ship, which dates back to the Viking Period or the Merovingian period, was found with the help of a high-resolution, ground-penetrating georadar. The radar also revealed the remains of two houses, which were likely part of a Viking settlement.

The ship was found by archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). The discovery was made by mere chance, according to the archaeologists, as they were surveying a smaller around the medieval Edøy Church nearby. “We had actually finished the agreed upon area, but we had time to spare and decided to do a quick survey over another field,” said NIKU Archaeologist Dr. Manuel Gabler. “It turned out to be a good decision.”

Remains of the ship, which is up to 55-feet-long, are located just below the topsoil of what was a burial mound. The mound appeared up in the georadar data as a circle that was 59 feet in diameter. At the center of the mound, the radar detected a 42-feet-long long keel and traces of two strakes.

At the center of the mound, the radar detected a 42-feet-long long keel and traces of two strakes
The burial ship is up to 55-feet-long

Ship graves covered by mounds were a form of burial reserved for Viking dignitaries. The larger the mound, the more important the person was. In 2018, archaeologists at NIKU used a similar georadar to unearth another millennium-old Viking ship near the Jell Mound in Østfold County in southeastern Norway. The ship was hidden beneath just 1.6 feet of topsoil.

“We only know of three well-preserved Viking ship burials in Norway, and these were excavated a long time ago,” said Dr. Knut Paasche, Head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU and an expert on Viking ships. “This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance and it will add to our knowledge as it can be investigated with modern means of archaeology.”

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