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Possible Viking ship settings identified from 17th century illustration

A new study of the Kalvestene grave field on the island of Hjarnø, Denmark have identified two possible Viking ship settings, first suggested in a 17th century illustration.

The Kalvestene (meaning “the calf stones”) grave field consists of up to ten small stone settings shaped like a ship. Ship settings are suggested to be a religious symbol of the Vikings connection to the god Njord, who was represented as a ship or Skidbladnir that controlled wind and weather.

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Previous archaeological evidence suggests that the multiple burials date from between AD 600 to 900, although according to legend the ship settings were constructed to commemorate a king named Hiarni who was crowned over his beautiful poetry.

The study was conducted by archaeologists from Flinders University, who were cross-referencing with an illustration of the site by the 17th century Danish antiquarian, Ole Worm.

Ole Worm’s drawings, which date from AD 1650 show over 20 ship settings (many of which no longer exist or were misinterpreted), for which archaeologists have identified two features from the illustration that may be new previously unexplored ship settings.

Dr Erin, lead author of the project from Flinders University said: “Our survey identified two new raised areas that could in fact be ship settings that align with Worm’s drawings from 1650. One appears to be a typical ship setting and the second remains ambiguous, but it’s impossible to know without excavation and further survey.”

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Header Image Credit : Erik Christensen – CC BY-SA 3.0

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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 8,000 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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