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Viking Boat Graves Baffle Scientists

While making improvements to a highway, archaeologists recently unearthed a Viking grave mound in central Norway. What they found surprised even them.

In the latter part of the 9th century, a woman was buried in a 24-foot boat at the edge of a cliff overlooking a fjord in Norway. Among other grave goods, such as a pearl necklace, two scissors, and a spindle whorl, she was found wearing a brooch made from a gilded horse’s harness that had a distinctive Irish design. Most likely taken during earlier raids of Ireland, the fact she was wearing the brooch, according to archaeologists, signifies that she was of high status and her family may have participated in these raids on the British Isles.

What was even stranger, however, was that instead of digging a new grave, the woman’s family actually buried her and her boat on top of an earlier Viking warrior boat grave. The warrior had been interred about a century earlier in a slightly larger boat, along with his sword, spear, and shield.

Scientists believe that the man may have been her ancestor and are now in the process of extracting DNA from their bones, to determine their genetic relationship.

The double boat burials, along with a burial house, were found at a Viking-era farm. All that remains of the actual boats, however, are the rivets; the wood has long since rotted away.

More recently, another boat burial from the same period was uncovered by archaeologists with ground-penetrating radar, on an island in Norway. It is believed that the ship may be as long as 56 feet.


To see a reconstruction of the double boat grave, check out this video.

For more info about Viking funerals, watch this video.



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