Category Archives: NORWAY

Reburied Medieval Remains Unearthed in Norway

Reburied Medieval Remains Unearthed in Norway

In summer, a somewhat unexpected traces of a large cemetery from the Middle Ages appeared in archaeological excavations in Kjøpmannsgata Norway.

Excavation work in connection with new building schemes took place in Kjøpmannsgata in 2019. As with all new builds in Norway, an archaeological examination of the site in central Trondheim has taken place.

The most highlighted work so far is the unelected cemetery. It’s surprising not only for its location but for its size. To date, 15 individual graves and three pit graves have been found.

The team of NIKU archaeologists is currently working in Trondheim.

Heads were turned last summer when one of these pits was uncovered. It contained the human remains of an estimated 200 people. It is believed these remains were excavated from other cemeteries and reburied here during development work sometime in the 17th century. Two more pit graves have since been found.

As it doesn’t appear on any maps, it is not yet known when this cemetery was built or for how long it has been in use. These are some of the questions archaeologists are hoping to answer during the investigation.

A team from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) is currently working on the site of the former Kjøpmannsgata cemetery under a heated tent.

Archaeologists are closely studying a 12-square-meter area of the cemetery. Although 15 graves have been found so far, they expect the final count to be up to 30. Of those found far, seven were adults, five were children, with three yet to be excavated.

“There are probably even more graves further down. All of these individual graves are in situ, i.e. located in the same place as when they were buried, but several have been partially destroyed. In many cases, only the upper body has been preserved.

The lower half can be cut by, for example, other graves being laid over or by later excavation work.” Those were the words of NIKU project manager Silje Rullestad.

The cemetery has been clearly impacted by several stages of building work, but the team can nevertheless see a clear structure. The northern boundary of the area appears to be marked by a ditch, while four post holes suggest a clear boundary mark.

“This collection and reburial of bones must have been an extensive job,” says archaeologist Monica Svendsen. She is responsible for the digital mapping and documentation of the excavation.

She explains that all three pits consist of deep wooden boxes filled with human bones. They Replaced parallel to the trench that archaeologists assume marks the medieval demarcation of the cemetery.

At the same time as the cemetery excavation is underway, a survey will also be conducted. In collaboration with COWI, NIKU will systematically take samples of soil and human bones to survey soil and biochemical conditions in the cemetery soil.

“From the archaeological excavation of the St. Clement’s Church churchyard, large variations in the degree of conservation of the skeletons were observed. We also see the same here in Kjøpmannsgata. Using the study, we will try to map out why the differences in conservation conditions vary within small distances,” says Rullestad.

The survey could provide a better understanding of the conditions that affect the preservation of human remains.

New ship burial found in Norway

Ancient Viking ship discovered buried next to the church using breakthrough Geo Radar Technology in Norway

A 1000-year old submerged Viking ship has been uncovered by archeologists in Norway. Archeologists were able to discover the millennium-old ship on Edoya Island, in western Norway, using high-tech geo radar.

The discovery was made by experts from the Norwegian Institute for Research on Cultural Heritage (NIKU).

On the top floor near the church of Edoy, the remains of the 17 m longship were buried.

The Ship traces were found by a Georadar. Photo: Manuel Gabler, NIKU

The archeological team said the actual date of the ship is very difficult to indicate but it is more than 1,000 years old. Archaeologists have suggested that parts of the ship may have been damaged by ploughing. 

Dr. Knut Paasche, the head of digital archaeology at NIKU said, there are three well-preserved Viking ship burials in Norway and the new discovery will only add to their knowledge as it can be investigated with the modern technology of archaeology.

Dr. Paasche credited the discovery to technology and said it is because of modern means that humans are learning more and more about our past. 

Settlement and ShipThe landscape at Edøy. Map: Manuel Gabler, NIKU

Viking era

Viking ships were marine vessels of unique structure, built by Vikings during the Viking age. Vikings were Scandinavians who raided and traded during the time of Viking age.

The Viking age from 798 AD to 1066 AD was a period of the Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion facilitated by advance sailing and navigational skills. 

The modern-day Scandinavian countries are Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.

The Viking settlements, communities, and governments were also established in diverse areas of north-western Europe, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, the North Atlantic island and as far as North America. 

The Viking age ended with Christianity taking over the Scandinavian islands. The men and women travelled to many parts of Europe and the diaspora returned with new influences to their homelands.

By the late 11th century, the Catholic Church was asserting their power with increasing authority and ambition and the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had taken shape. 

Mysterious Viking boat graves unearthed in central Norway

Mysterious Viking boat graves unearthed in central Norway

In Norway, archeologists discovered a particularly strange thing. They have found two Viking boats in one grave. 

Some 100 years after the first burial of the ship, the second burial was put into the tomb. A large number of grave goods were also recovered, and they are helping experts gain a greater understanding of the early years of the Viking Age.

The two people died apart for a century, raising questions as to why the couple was buried together. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) recently discovered the twin boat burial during road construction near the village of Vinjeøra. 

The oldest grave is from the 8th century. But why were they buried together? Illustration: Arkikon

The younger body belongs to a woman who died in the second half of the 9th century.

She was laid to rest in a dress with two shell-shaped brooches of gilded bronze and an Irish crucifix-shaped brooch and placed in a 7- to 8-meter-long (23-26-foot) boat. Along with her skeleton, the team found a trove of possessions, including a pearl necklace, scissors, a spindle whorl, and a cow skull. 

The oxen skull and spindle whorl found at the site.

Just below her remains lies a larger boat grave belonging to an 8th-century man buried with a spear, a shield, and a single-edged sword.

Although double boat graves have been discovered before, this situation is unique given the 100 years that separate the two people. 

The researchers can’t yet be certain, but they believe it’s a fairly safe bet that these two were from the same family. It’s hoped that further DNA and isotope analysis could prove this theory in the near future. 

“Family was very important in Viking Age society, both to mark status and power and to consolidate property rights.

The first legislation on allodial rights in the Middle Ages said you had to prove that your family had owned the land for five generations,” explained Raymond Sauvage, an archaeologist at the NTNU University Museum and project manager for the excavation.

Researcher excavating the site of the Viking boat burials.

“Against this backdrop, it’s reasonable to think that the two were buried together to mark the family’s ownership to the farm, in a society that for the most part didn’t write things down,” he added.

The Celtic brooch from Ireland.

Along with this unusual setup, the boat graves hold a bunch of fascinating attributes.

The crucifix-shaped brooch in the woman’s grave is believed to have been made out of a harness fitting from Ireland, based on its design. 

Vikings were prolific travelers who wreaked havoc on regions as far as Iceland, Greenland, North Africa, Asia, and even North America. In all likelihood, the brooch was worn by the woman after being brought back from a raid in Ireland.

She perhaps helped to organize the voyage or even took part in the raid. After all, it’s relatively well established that women were warriors in Viking culture.

“The Viking voyages – whether for raids, trading or other expeditions – were central in Norse society.

That meant it was important to participate in this activity, not only for the material goods but also to raise both your own and your family’s status,” said Aina Heen Pettersen at NTNU’s Department of Historical Studies.

“Using artifacts from Viking raids as jewellery signalled a clear difference between you and the rest of the community because you were part of the group that took part in the voyages.”

6,000-Year-Old Pre-Viking Artifacts Discovered in Norway as Climate Change Melts Glaciers

6,000-Year-Old Pre-Viking Artifacts Discovered in Norway as Climate Change Melts Glaciers

Over thousands of years, ancient objects hidden in snow and ice in the Norwegian mountains appear at an unprecedented rate, with archeologists trying to gather them all before it is too late.

The research results were remarkable: iron arrowheads from 1,500 years old, tunics from the Iron Age and even the remains of the wooden ski with leather binding left somewhere behind sometime in the year 700.

The cause behind the rapid emergence of these old relics is climate change, which dramatically reduces the alpine ice, which is a time capsule for lost treasures, by low natural snow and hotter summers.

Lars Pilö, an archeologist who works for the county council of Oppland, told Archaeology in 2013 that “ice is a time machine.” “When you’re really lucky, the artifacts are exposed for the first time since they were lost.”

Unlike glaciers, which tend to crush and grind objects as they move down a mountain, the majority of artifacts coming out of Norway are being recovered from ice patches.

These isolated non-moving accumulations of ice and snow are significant to the archeological record because of their extreme stability, with many containing layers of seasonal snowpack dating back thousands of years.

Sections of ice in the Juvfonne snow patch in Jotunheimen, Norway, are an astounding 7,600 years old, according to a 2017 study.

An Iron Age tunic recovered from the Lendbreen ice patch in August 2011. 

Despite their remote setting and scarce visits from modern-day humans, ice patches for thousands of years were veritable hot spots for ancient hunters.

In the summer, reindeer herds often crowd together on the islands of snow and ice to escape pesky, biting botflies, which have a strong aversion to the cooler temperatures. In the past, hunters would follow, losing or forgetting precious equipment along the way that was later buried and preserved in the winter snows.

Some items, such as the 1,600-year-old knife shown in the video below, look as if they were lost only a few decades ago.

Because ice patches in the past have contracted and expanded due to temperature shifts, many of the objects recovered have likely one time or another been exposed and then reburied by snow and ice. They also have a tendency to be carried by meltwater.

As explained on the Secrets of the Ice Facebook page, the 2,600-year-old arrows shown in the image below were washed downslope far from the place they were originally lost.

Arrows discovered in the scree of an ice patch were later determined to date back to 600 B.C.

Some of the most exciting finds are those objects found emerging from the surface of the ice, a sign that they have previously been untouched by melting, according to researchers from the Oppland County Council.

These artifacts are generally exceptionally preserved, with organic materials such as leather and fabric still present. It’s also an indication of the severity of anthropogenic global warming, with certain ice patches in Norway estimated to have retreated to levels last seen during the Stone Age.

“It’s very impressive when you can say this melting ice is 5,000 years old, and this is the only moment in the last 7,000 years that the ice has been retreating,” Albert Hafner, an archaeologist at the University of Bernsays Hafner, told Archaeology. “Ice is the most emotional way to show climate change.”

The preserved remains of a 3400-year-old hide shoe discovered on an ice patch in 2006. Over the last 30 years, some 2,000 artifacts have been recovered from Norway’s melting ice fields.

Unfortunately for archaeologists, the rate of ice loss coupled with the extremely small annual windows of opportunity to scour the alpine patches means some newly exposed items will break down and disappear before anyone has a chance to study them.

“This material is like the library of Alexandria. It is incredibly valuable and it’s on fire now,” George Hambrecht, an anthropologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, told New Scientist.

Right now you might be thinking, “I want to help find and preserve these incredible artifacts!,” and we agree, it sounds like quite the adventure to take a romp into the Norwegian wilderness and possibly stumble upon a well-preserved Viking Sword (see below). The reality, however, is that fieldwork can sometimes be laborious and uncomfortable, with every day at the mercy of Mother Nature’s fickle moods.

That said, the Oppland County Council did accept volunteers last spring and it’s possible, especially with so many finds emerging from the ice each year, that others may be called upon to assist.

“We may not find much (or we could strike the jackpot, who knows),” Lars Pilø wrote last April in the Secrets blog. “It all depends on the melting conditions, and they develop over the summer and during fieldwork. If we are unlucky, the scenery and the team spirit make up for the lack of finds.”

A Viking sword discovered in 2017 and dating back to c. AD 850-950.