Norway: Iron Age Viking Ship Burial Discovered through Ground Radar

A complete Viking ship burial—so far only the fourth ever discovered—has been found by archeologists at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) in Østfold County, south Norway, a statement from that organization has announced.

According to the NIKU statement, the Viking ship was found using specialist ground radar equipment which searched the entire site around the famous Jell Mound.

“The digital data visualizations reveal a large and well-defined 20 m long ship-shaped structure. The data indicate that the lower part of the ship is still preserved. Further non-invasive investigations are planned to digitally map the unique find and the wider landscape,” the NIKU statement continued.

“This find is incredibly exciting as we only know three well-preserved Viking ship finds in Norway excavated long time ago. This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance as it can be investigated with all modern means of archaeology,” Dr. Knut Paasche, Head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU, and an expert on Viking ships, was quoted as saying.

The team has discovered the traces of at least eight so far unknown burial mounds destroyed by ploughing. But with the help of georadar, the remnants and enclosing ditches of these massive monuments can still be mapped in detail.

One of the former mounds clearly shows the remains of a Viking ship initially buried in the mound. There are clear indications that the ship’s keel and floor timbers are preserved in the grave. Based on other Viking ship finds the archaeologists worked out a first hypothetical reconstruction of the ship.

Beside the monumental burial mounds, the georadar data revealed 5 longhouses – some of them remarkably large – a situation comparable to the site Borre in Vestfold County, on the opposite side of the Oslofjord.

The ship burial does not exist in isolation, but forms part of a cemetery which is clearly designed to display power and influence”, says archaeologist Lars Gustavsen, project leader from NIKU

The archaeologists from NIKU are now proposing a research project to further investigate the Jellestad ship, the site and the surrounding landscape with non-invasive methods before any excavations. It is planned to use additional non-invasive geophysical methods which will provide more insight into the ground and provide additional facts on the ship before it is dug up and exposed to the elements.


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