Category Archives: NORWAY

Archaeologists in Norway found an arrow that was likely trapped in ice for 4,000 years

Archaeologists in Norway found an arrow that was likely trapped in ice for 4,000 years

Archaeologists in Norway discovered an arrow shaft that appears to be from the Stone Age, meaning it is approximately 4,000 years old.

Archaeologists in Norway found an arrow that was likely trapped in ice for 4,000 years
An archaeologist holds an arrow originally believed to be from the Iron Age on Mount Lauvhøe in Norway. Upon closer inspection, the team determined the artifact is from the Stone Age and is likely around 4,000 years old.

The discovery was made on the side of Mount Lauvhøe, which stands at just over 6,500 feet in Norway’s Lom Municipality. Archaeologists had found arrows from the Iron and Middle ages when they last surveyed the area in 2017.

However, this arrow shaft was found after ice at the site melted away in recent years, according to Lars Holger Pilø, co-director Secrets of the Ice, part of Norway’s Department of Cultural Heritage.

He said the discovery predates earlier finds by more than 2,000 years, which adds a lot more “time depth” to the site. Researchers can determine the age of the artifact by its shape, but will submit a sample of the wood for carbon dating once the field season is over.

The find is likely evidence of ancient hunters stalking reindeer, which made their way onto the snow and ice in summer months thousands of years ago to avoid clouds of botflies.

“Sometimes, when an arrow missed its target, it burrowed itself deep into the snow and was lost,” Pilø posted. “Sad for the hunter but a bull’s eye for archaeology!”

The area where the arrow shaft was found is one of 66 ice sites in Norway, which have preserved more than 4,000 archaeological finds over the years, Pilø said.

Since the arrow shaft was broken at both ends, it was difficult to date, according to a Secrets of the Ice post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Archaeologists initially thought the artifact was from the Iron Age, but after removing glacial silt, experts determined it was far older than they initially thought.

“The arrowhead is likely to have been a pressure-flaked stone projectile, meaning that the arrow is probably around 4,000 years old,” the post reads.

In another post, archaeologists described how the preserving power of ice over time: “The ice is a time machine: It brings precious objects from the past to our time in an unaltered state, like sleeping beauties.”

1500-year-old gold treasure discovered by metal detectorist: “This is the gold find of the century in Norway”

1500-year-old gold treasure discovered by metal detectorist: “This is the gold find of the century in Norway”

A Norwegian man had barely unwrapped his new metal detector when he discovered what experts have described as the “gold find of the century.”

Erlend Bore, 51, told NBC News by telephone Thursday that he took up the hobby after his doctor advised him to get some exercise.

But he stumbled across the unique treasure trove which is more than 1,500 years old when he was using his new gadget on Rennesoey, a picturesque island to the north of the Norwegian city of Stavanger.

Bore, who lives in Sola, a small seaside resort near Stavanger, said that hours of detecting only yielded “trash like aluminum foil and a very small fem ore,” a more modern coin that is no longer in use.

1500-year-old gold treasure discovered by metal detectorist: “This is the gold find of the century in Norway”
Metal detectorist Erlend Bore on Sept. 7, 2023 with the gold treasure he discovered on the island of Rennesoey in Norway.

On the verge of going home, he said he tried a nearby hill and it took seconds for him to get a hit.

Initially, Bore said, he thought he’d found toy gold coins or chocolate money. But experts at the university’s archaeological museum later determined he had come across nine gold pendants, three gold rings and 10 gold pearls that someone might have worn as showy jewelry centuries ago, all lying barely 5 inches below the ground.

A reconstruction of a necklace with gold pendants that are part of a treasure found in southern Norway in August by Erlend Bore.

Not seen since before the Viking Age, the pendants were bracteates: thin, flat, single-sided gold discs that once formed an amulet.

The find weighs just 3.5 oz but has huge historical significance for the understanding of the period. There has been no similar find in Norway since the 19th century.

“There was a terrible period in the middle of the 6th century when both plague and climate deterioration came at once,” Håkon Reiersen, associate professor at the museum, told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. He added that at the time, the region of Rogaland “had a large population, and many died.”

“From that period immediately after, we have almost no finds,” he said.

“So many people died, and some had to put down their most precious things in hopes of either getting better times or to hide their treasures,” he added.

Buried around 500 A.D. when Norway was ruled by rival kings and the Roman Empire had not long collapsed, the museum’s experts believe the intricate craftmanship shown in the gold suggests the jewelry was made in a nearby workshop controlled by political and religious elites that may have held sway over much of southern Norway.

Bore found nine pendants, three rings, and 10 gold pearls on a southern Norwegian island in what was described as the gold find of the century.

The motifs on the jewelry are unusual and have excited archaeologists. The 1,000 bracteates found in Scandinavia typically show the Norse god Odin healing the sick horse of his son, Balder — but the new pieces show just a horse, an image with important cultural symbolism in pre-Christian Norway.

“On these gold pendants the horse’s tongue hangs out, and its slumped posture and twisted legs show that it is injured,” Sigmund Oehrl, an archaeologist at the museum, said in a press release.

“Like the Christian symbol of the cross, which spread in the Roman Empire at exactly this time, the horse symbol represented illness and distress, but at the same time hope for healing and new life,” he said.

The museum plans to put the items on public display.

“I didn’t sleep much for several nights after the find, I was so high on adrenaline,” Bore said, adding that his more recent searches had yielded more normal results.

On a recent search he said he found “a sheep’s ear tag and the lid of a teapot.”

Under Norwegian law, Bore could be entitled to a finder’s fee of the gold’s minimum value plus 10%, which he would have to share equally with the landowner. But Bore said this has yet to be decided.

The plan is to exhibit the find at the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger, about 200 miles southwest of Norway’s capital, Oslo.

Face Of Norwegian Boy Who Lived 8,000 Years Ago Reconstructed

Face Of Norwegian Boy Who Lived 8,000 Years Ago Reconstructed

Using DNA analysis and modern forensic techniques, scientists have reconstructed the face of a Stone Age boy who lived in Norway. The Vistegutten – the boy from Viste died at only 14 years old. Why he passed away so early is unknown because it seems he was healthy.

You can now see the full reconstructed figure of Vistegutten at a new permanent exhibition in Jæren. Oscar Nilsson has equipped him with a fishing spear and a fishing hook.

“The young boy was buried in the small Vistehola, a cave located a little north of Stavanger in southwestern Norway. The same little cave that his parents may have lived in.

He is the best-preserved person from the Stone Age in Norway,” Science in Norway reports.

“I spend most of my day working with skeletons of ancient people,” archaeologist Sean Denham at the Museum of Archaeology in Stavanger says.

“But seeing a living person in front of me in this way is something completely different. Oscar Nilsson has done a fantastic job with this new reconstruction.”

“Denham is also happy about the increased interest in the Stone Age in Rogaland and Norway that the museum, in collaboration with sculptor and archaeologist Nilsson, has now managed to achieve with this reconstruction.

Fish and nuts

During an archaeological excavation of Vistehola in 1907, researchers found the boy’s remains.

He was only 125 centimeters tall.

Vistehola is located 10 kilometers northwest of Stavanger city center. This is one of the most famous settlements from the Stone Age in Norway. Here, the skeleton of Vistegutten was found during an archaeological excavation in 1907. New methods have made it possible to extract DNA from the skeleton.

With the help of new research methods, the researchers know that the boy has eaten as much food from the sea as from land. Cod, seal, and wild boar were on the menu for those who lived near the beach at Jæren. So were shellfish and nuts.

Even for a Stone Age man, Vistegutten was small in stature. Adult men from the Stone Age in Norway were probably 165-170 centimeters tall. The women may have been 145-155 centimeters tall.

Both sexes had strong physiques, the signs of which can be seen in Vistegutten as well. Eyes and cheekbones were often quite prominent in people in Norway at the time.

The boy was probably fairly dark-skinned.

Face shape, skin and hair

“For a while, there was some doubt about whether this was a girl or a boy. But with the help of DNA analysis, we can now say with certainty that Vistegutten was a boy,” Denham says.

The reconstruction Oscar Nilsson has made is based on DNA analysis. It also builds on a project from 2011, where researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland scanned the skull of Vistegutten with a laser, and created a 3D model of his head.

Life at Jæren was probably good when Vistegutten lived there. The landscape was covered in deciduous forests with wild boars, moose, and deer. The boy has also eaten a lot of food from the sea. The climate was milder than today and attracted people from the south to Norway. Examinations of the skeleton tell us that Vistegutten did not have any serious illnesses. He hasn’t starved either. When he died, he was buried under the family’s ‘living room floor’ inside the small cave. It must mean that they wanted to have the little boy close to them after he was dead.

“The DNA analysis that was carried out later, tells us more about the shape of his head,” Denham says. “We are a little more uncertain about his skin color, hair color, and the color of his eyes. So here we rely on the other finds we have of Stone Age people in Norway.”

The average lifespan in the Old Stone Age was not very high. This was largely due to the fact that so many young children died. When people first reached adulthood, living to be over 50 years old was not unusual.

We don’t know why Vistegutten died so young.

Viking sword from warrior’s grave unearthed in family’s yard in Norway

Viking sword from warrior’s grave unearthed in family’s yard in Norway

Viking sword from warrior's grave unearthed in family's yard in Norway
The sword was found in a yard belonging to Anne and Oddbjørn Holum Heiland, where they were clearing land to build an extension to their house.

A man digging in his yard to build an extension of his house in southern Norway has unearthed the 1,100-year-old grave of a Viking warrior who was buried with weapons.

The finds include a rusty iron sword in two pieces; its hilt style enabled archaeologists to date the burial to the late 800s or early 900s, during the Viking Age, Joakim Wintervoll — an archaeologist who works for the local government of Agder County, where the relics were found — told Live Science.

“We have a good record of how the ‘fashion’ in the shapes of sword handles developed in Norway, from early ages up to more modern eras,” he said. “Comparing it to other known sword handles, we believe this sword is from the late ninth century to the 10th century.” 

The sword and other artifacts are from a Viking Age grave. A similar Viking grave was found in the 1930s at a farm nearby.

Other artifacts found in the grave included a long spear designed to be used on horseback, called a lance; glass beads and a belt buckle gilded with gold; and a bronze brooch. Neither human nor animal remains have yet been discovered there.

The artifacts seem to have belonged to a Viking warrior. “The lance suggests that this was someone that was proficient in combat from horseback,” Wintervoll said. And the warrior was “definitely someone of means, based on the gold-gilded jewelry.”

The grave can be dated from the style of the sword’s hilt, which indicates it was made at the turn of the ninth and 10th centuries.
The blade of a lance — a long spear designed to be used from horseback — was also found in the grave, but no human or animal remains were found.

Viking burial

The grave and its artifacts were discovered in late June in the yard of a house in the mainly rural district of Setesdal, beside a lake about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Oslo. Homeowner Oddbjørn Holum Heiland had started using a mechanical digger to clear the spot in his yard where he and his wife Anne planned to extend their house, according to Science Norway.

“I wasn’t going to dig a lot, just a little bit in the slope behind the house, to get some more space between the house and the land,” he told the news outlet.

Although rare, the Viking sword is not unique. Viking graves often contained a warrior’s weapons, and more than 3,000 have been found in Norway.
Other artifacts from the Viking grave include a bronze brooch, part of a metal belt buckle and glass beads gilded with gold.

He first found an oblong slab just below the surface; it’s now been recognized as a gravestone. Further digging revealed the hilt of the sword; Holum Heiland then realized his yard must hold other Viking artifacts, so he stopped digging and called the county archaeologists.

Wintervoll and Jo-Simon Frøshaug Stokke, an archaeologist from Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History, visited the site a few days later. No Viking artifacts had been found before at the property, Wintervoll said, but a Viking grave containing a sword, spear, glass beads and a horse bridle were discovered on a nearby farm in the 1930s.

Although it’s “a bit too early to say” whether these two graves have a connection, “it is interesting that they are relatively close and have almost identical finds in them,” he said.

Ancient claim 

It is possible that a Viking warrior was buried at the site as a way for their descendants to claim ownership of the land around it, Wintervoll said. Or, perhaps it had only family significance.

“No grave mound was known to have been on this homestead,” Wintervoll said. In Norway, this type of grave is known as a “flatmarksgrav,” which translates to “flat field grave,” he added.

The person interred there might have been buried whole, or cremated ashes may have been laid down in the grave. “At this point in time, the practice varied a bit from place to place, but we have yet to find any burnt bones,” he said. 

The grave seems to have been dug on an almost east-west axis, which would align with sunrise and sunset, and the only grave marker seems to have been the oblong stone above it.

“Right now, we don’t think this is a grave that was meant to be visible at a great distance,” Wintervoll said. “These types of graves might have a more family or private function.” 

Stunned Couple Finds Viking Buried Under Floor While Renovating Home

Stunned Couple Finds Viking Buried Under Floor While Renovating Home

Stunned Couple Finds Viking Buried Under Floor While Renovating Home
When the couple removed the floor, they began to find stones and pieces of iron. Archaeologists believe they are from the Viking Age.

A Norwegian couple made an unusual historic discovery during renovations of their home. First, they found a number of Viking-era artifacts, and then archaeologists declared that they had found a Viking grave, right there, under their floor. Experts have carried out a survey of the site and the grave is being hailed as a very significant find.

The couple made the find while tearing up some floorboards in their family home in Seivåg near Bodø in Northern Norway. They were laying insulation when they came across some strangely shaped rocks.

Naturally, they were curious, and then they saw something round glinting in the light. They knew that it had to be pretty old because the house had been built in 1914 and the floorboards had not been moved since. But they were not prepared for what they had actually found. The house has been in the same family for over a century.

Viking Burial Under the Boards

Based on the shape of the object “they first believed it was the wheel of a toy car” according to The Local. The couple only later realized that what they had found could be something historic.

After some further digging, the couple found an iron axe head and some other metallic objects, that were all obviously old. ‘It wasn’t until later that we realized what it could be” Mariann Kristiansen, one of the owners of the house, told The Local.

Viking ax head, a representation of the find at the Viking burial site in Norway

The couple contacted the local authorities and experts from the local Nordland county government came to inspect the finds. Martinus Hauglid told the couple that they had most likely found a grave from the Iron Age in Norway. This was the era when the Vikings ruled in Scandinavia and terrified most of the known world.

The archaeologist told The Local that the couple had found an “ax dated between 950 and 1050 AD”. They also found a  bead of glass, which was revealed to be blue, and dates from the same period.

A glass bead was among the first objects discovered in the Viking grave.

Viking Cairn

It is believed that the stones found underneath the flooring came from a burial, and were likely part of a cairn. In this type of burial, a mound of stones and rocks is erected over the deceased which was a very common burial practice in the Iron Age.

A number of similar cairns were found in the Lendbreen Mountain Pass in Norway when a glacier melted. This was an important trade route in the Middle Ages.

Martinus congratulated the couple on their find and stated that they had done a good job by reporting things so soon. The archaeologist said that it was the first instance of a Viking grave being found under a private dwelling in his 30-year career.

Archaeologists investigated the grave. Forbes reported that under Norwegian Law any human artifacts or “activity before 1537 are automatically preserved”. The items found by the couple were transported to a museum for conservation and safekeeping.

These stones formed the top of what archaeologists believe is a Viking burial cairn.

End of the Viking Age

Martinus was quoted by Forbes as stating that the finds under the floorboards date back to a time “when Norway transitioned to Christianity to become one kingdom”. This was the time when kings like Olaf Tryggvason, attempted to dominate the many chiefdoms and create a centralized state.

Some of these monarchs sought to impose Christianity on the pagan Norse as part of their efforts at state-building and this led to many civil wars. The grave is helping researchers to better understand this crucial period in Norwegian history which saw the demise of the Viking Age.

It appears that the original builders of the house, over a century ago, were not aware that they were building a private residence on a grave. It is quite possible that they unearthed items and simply discarded them. This raises the possibility that some Viking-era grave goods were lost or destroyed during the construction of the family home.

Viking-era grave goods are displayed at the National Museum of Iceland.

An 8-year-old girl unearths Stone Age dagger at her school in Norway

An 8-year-old girl unearths Stone Age dagger at her school in Norway

An 8-year-old girl unearths Stone Age dagger at her school in Norway
Elise, an 8-year-old student, found the Neolithic dagger while playing near her school in Norway.

While playing outside her school in Norway, an 8-year-old girl found an unexpected treasure — not a lost ball or a discarded jump rope, but a flint dagger crafted by Stone Age people 3,700 years ago.

The student, identified only as Elise in a statement translated from Norwegian, discovered the gray-brown dagger when she was playing in a rocky area by her school in Vestland County. “I was going to pick up a piece of glass, and then the stone was there,” she said in the statement. 

Elise showed the stone to her teacher, Karen Drange, who saw that the stone looked ancient. Drange contacted Vestland county council, and archaeologists from the county examined the artifact.

The nearly 5-inch-long (12 centimeters) tool is a rare find, Louise Bjerre Petersen, an archaeologist with Vestland county municipality, said in the translated statement. Flint, a hard sedimentary rock, does not naturally occur in Norway, so the dagger may have come from across the North Sea in Denmark, according to the statement.

The nearly 5-inch-long (12 centimeters) flint dagger was likely crafted during the Neolithic period about 3,700 years ago.

This type of dagger is often found with sacrificial finds, the archaeologists added. To further investigate the area, the Vestland County Council and Vestland County’s University Museum in Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, teamed up to explore the school’s grounds. But they didn’t find any other evidence dating back to the Stone Age, they said in the statement. 

Based on its style, the dagger likely dates to the New Stone Age, or the Neolithic, a time when prehistoric humans shaped stone tools and began to rely on domesticated plants and animals, build permanent villages and develop crafts, such as pottery.

In Norway, the Stone Age, which includes the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, lasted from 10000 B.C. to 1800 B.C., with a number of hunter-gatherers permanently settling down to farm around 2400 B.C., according to Talk Norway, an educational website on Norway’s history and cultural heritage.

The dagger will be cataloged and used in research at the University Museum. The artifact isn’t the only Stone Age discovery to recently get attention in Norway.

This past winter, the full-body reconstruction of a Stone Age teenager who lived 8,300 years ago went on display at the Hå Gamle Prestegard museum in southern Norway.

The teen boy was likely part of a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer group, but the details surrounding his death are a mystery; it appears he died alone leaning against a cave wall, as his remains had no indications of a burial.

Rare, 1,000-year-old Viking Age iron hoard found in a basement in Norway

Rare, 1,000-year-old Viking Age iron hoard found in a basement in Norway

A rare stash of 1,000-year-old ironwork, which sat for 40 years in a family’s basement in Norway, is now seeing the light of day after a woman discovered the hoard during some spring cleaning. 

Rare, 1,000-year-old Viking Age iron hoard found in a basement in Norway
The Viking hoard consists of 32 iron ingots, which are all pierced with a hole on one end and may have been grouped together in a bundle.

The hoard consists of 32 iron ingots that look like small spatulas and date back to the Viking Age (A.D. 793 to 1066) or the high Middle Ages (1066 to 1350). The rods are identical and weigh about 1.8 ounces (50 grams) each, prompting archeologists to think they may have been used as a form of currency and that someone probably buried them with the intention of coming back for the treasure later.

“We call it a cache find because it is clear that someone has [buried it] to hide it,” Kjetil Loftsgarden, an archeologist and associate professor at the University of Oslo and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, told NRK News. Each ingot is pierced with a hole on one end, which suggests the ingots could have been tied together in a bunch, experts added.

While similar ironwork already exists in the museum’s collections, this discovery is rare because construction projects often destroy or damage buried treasures, Loftsgarden said. In this case, Grete Margot Sørum, who came across the treasure trove while clearing out her parents’ basement in Valdres, central Norway, told NRK News that she remembers her father finding the stash while he dug a well by the house in the 1980s. “But then he put them away in a corner,” Sørum said.

The last time someone unearthed a hoard of iron ingots in Valdres was 100 years ago, according to NRK News.

From the late Viking Age until the high Middle Ages, independent farmers in southern Norway produced iron on a massive scale, according to a 2019 study by Loftsgarden, published in Fornvännen, the Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research.

The region was so productive that there was a surplus of iron, which traders sold to elites in the more populated coastal regions of Norway.

Sørum’s father unearthed the ingots from a site located along the Bergen Royal Road, known as Kongevegen, which served as a trade route between Oslo and Bergen 1,000 years ago.

The area around the site was dotted with charcoal pits, which were indispensable to iron production for smelting during the Viking and Middle Ages, Loftsgarden wrote in the study.

Sørum notified the Valdres Folkemuseum in Fagernes, which then forwarded the iron collection to the Cultural Heritage section of the Innlandet county municipality. The iron hoard is now stored at the Cultural History Museum in Oslo, where archeologists will study and catalog the artifacts.

“Old finds that are handed into the archeologists provide new knowledge about the history of the Inland,” Anne Engesveen, unit leader for archeology at the Cultural Heritage section, said in a statement.

The discovery of the iron collection in the Sørum family basement is not the first Viking find from Norway in recent months. In November 2022, a metal detectorist stumbled across a Viking treasure hoard consisting of a pair of silver rings, fragments of a silver bracelet, and what look like chopped-up Arabic coins, among other buried artifacts. 

Ruins of the 700-year-old wharf, possibly used by royalty, were found in Oslo

Ruins of the 700-year-old wharf, possibly used by royalty, were found in Oslo

Ruins of the 700-year-old wharf, possibly used by royalty, were found in Oslo

An excavation by NIKU archaeologists in Oslo’s seaside neighborhood of Bjørvika has uncovered the remains of a long section of a medieval wharf believed to have been built by a medieval king of Norway.

Under the dense clay of the Oslofjord seabed, more than 26 feet of the pier’s foundations have persisted in excellent condition.

Archaeologists knew from preliminary surveys that something was buried at a port in Oslo, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) said in a Thursday, March 2, news release. The ruins of a medieval wharf were discovered when excavations got underway.

The wharf consisted of massive logs lashed together to form bulwarks. The logs were dotted with impressions of barnacles and mussels, signs of having once been exposed to the sea.

Over time, the structures built on top of the foundations pressed them deeper into the clay, where they remained even after the surface structures were lost.

The pier was most likely built in the early 14th century and has since sunk into the clay seabed under its own weight, according to the release.

A close-up photo of the accumulated layers of clay.

Archaeologists believe this wharf was probably the king’s, based on its location and estimated age. Another nearby dock is known to have been used by royalty from the 11th to 13th centuries, according to the release.

A small mystery is that archaeologists unearthed layers of food waste, fish bones, dung, and peat in the clay around the massive logs. Archaeologists don’t know how these materials ended up around the pier.

“This is very mysterious,” says Håvard Hegdal, archaeologist and project manager from NIKU, “How has this come into what has been a closed construction? There has been a floor above us, and probably a building, and it shouldn’t be possible to throw food scraps and other things down here.”

“There was also a lot of dirt from a boat inside these layers. And it shouldn’t have come in here in any case. So ‘King’s wharf’ may have had a reasonably short lifespan, and that is quite strange.”

Researchers will cut a portion of the wood off the pier and send it to a lab to be more specifically dated dendrochronologically, the release said.

The most likely candidate to build the wharf was Haakon V (reigned 1299–1319). Oslo overtook Bergen to become the capital of Norway during his reign, and Haakon had the Akershus Fortress built to protect the city and serve as a royal residence. The pier’s foundations were discovered right next to the ruins of the royal palace that stood before Akershus Fortress.

The remains of the wharf have been scanned to create a 3D model. And excavations are ongoing.