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Viking Boat Grave Found on Edøy Island

In 2019, archaeologists announced the discovery of a Viking ship grave on Edøy Island, Norway that made national headlines.

Research by the Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning had revealed traces of a major settlement from the Merovingian or Viking Period, along with a 16-17 metre long ship that dated from more than 1000 years ago.

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After further georadar surveys, the team has now discovered a Viking boat burial as well as the remains of several houses and mounds.

A ship burial or boat grave is a burial used among Germanic peoples, particularly by Viking Age Norsemen in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and the grave goods, or as a part of the grave goods itself. If the ship is relatively small, it is often called a boat grave or boat burial.

The georadar data showing the Viking boat burial. Image Credit : Manuel Gabler, NIKU

Manuel Gabler from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) said: “In the process of interpreting the data, we discovered a clear circular and reflective structure. In the middle of that structure we see a 7.3 metre long and approximately 1 meter wide anomaly. We interpret it as a boat tomb under a round stone cairn.”

North of the latest boat discovery are two circular anomalies that may be the remains of more boat burials, but these sites lack a boat structure which archaeologists suggest may be the result of damage caused by agriculture and ploughing. Several more semi-circular anomalies have also been identified.

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The team also discovered traces of grave tombs and rectangular houses with a large reflective anomaly, which may be the remains of a floor or hearth.

The County conservator Bjørn Ringstad said: “The houses that have been traced may well be from the older Iron Age, circa 300-600 AD. The tombs may be from the younger Iron Age, circa 600-900 AD. The findings nevertheless show that there was a close connection between the residences and the burial ground at Edøy.”

Header Image Credit : Svein Junge. Illustration, Manuel Gabler, NIKU

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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