Thanks to a high-resolution georadar, archaeologists have managed to uncover an amazing treasure that has been hiding a few dozen centimetres under Norway’s soil: a Viking cemetery housing a well-preserved grave-boat.
Located in the southern part of Norway, Østfold County is one of the oldest inhabited places in the country. Many burial mounds dot its territory, but no one could have imagined that an entire Viking cemetery would be lying under its surface. Thanks to a high resolution georadar, archaeologists have recently unveiled this unparalleled site.
The discovery was made using a ground penetrating radar (or georadar) recently developed by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna. It allowed the archaeologists of the Norwegian Institute for Research on Cultural Heritage (NIKU) to reveal the presence of an unexpected object, only about fifty centimetres below the ground: a ship-tomb, a burial technique used by several peoples, including the Vikings.
‘We are sure that there is a ship there, but it is hard to say to what degree it is preserved without further investigation,’ said the curator of the Østfold County, Morten Hanisch, in a statement. ‘This discovery is incredibly exciting because we only know of three well-preserved Viking ships in Norway, discovered a long time ago,’ adds Dr. Knut Paasche, director of the department of digital archeology at NIKU.
‘This new vessel will undoubtedly be valuable for our understanding of history, especially since we can now use all of our modern archeology techniques to explore it,’ he continues.
An entire cemetery
Digital imagery reveals the shape of a well-defined ship, measuring about 20 metres long. The data indicates that its keel and wood floor are still in good condition. The researchers discovered this amazing vestige in the vicinity of Viksletta, where seven other burial mounds have been discovered but have been razed by agricultural activity.
Along with burial mounds, archaeologists have also discovered five longhouses, some of which come in considerable proportions. ‘This ship burial is not an isolated phenomenon but part of a cemetery that has been clearly designed to symbolize power and influence,’ says archaeologist Lars Gustavsen, project manager. While waiting to know if an excavation will be necessary, archaeologists intend to continue their research through the use of non-invasive methods.