Category Archives: NORWAY

A Unique Discovery in Europe: Ancient Stone Circles Cover 2,800-Year-Old Graves of Children in Norway

A Unique Discovery in Europe: Ancient Stone Circles Cover 2,800-Year-Old Graves of Children in Norway

A Unique Discovery in Europe: Ancient Stone Circles Cover 2,800-Year-Old Graves of Children in Norway

Archaeologists from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo discovered an unknown burial site in a quarry near Fredrikstad, in southeastern Norway.

This find has been found to contain the remains of mostly children, all of whom died more than 2,000 years ago. The burial field is unique in a European context, according to the Museum of Cultural History.

In December 2023, the team of archaeologists, led by Guro Fossum, was initially investigating ancient Stone Age settlements when they found stone formations that turned out to be burial circles.

The children, whose ages ranged from infancy to six years old at the time of their deaths, had their partially burnt bones interred directly beneath the intriguing stone circles, in exquisitely crafted ceramic pots that had long since broken into fragments. After the skeletal remains were dated, it was discovered that nearly all of the children had been buried during Norway’s Bronze and Iron Ages, between 800 and 400 BC.

“The dating shows that the burial site was used over a long period, so they couldn’t all have died in the same natural disaster or outbreak of disease or epidemic,” says Guro Fossum.

The painstakingly built stone circles were found in 2023 while excavating a rural field close to the southern Norwegian city of Fredrickstad. They were situated close to a Stone Age settlement, which was the original site being investigated, and were only 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) below the earth’s surface.

The stone formations were all between three and six feet (one and two meters) in diameter and were either perfectly round or oval-shaped. Some had larger stones placed in the middle or on their edges, signaling some diversity or creativity in the designs.

The tombs show variations in the arrangement of the cremated remains, some placed in urns and others simply under the stone circles. The amount of bones recovered was minimal in many cases, between 0.1 and 240 grams per tomb, which presented a considerable challenge for the archaeologists and osteologists involved in the study.

The children’s graves date from the transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages, with most of them buried between 800 and 400 years BCE.

Aside from the children’s tombs, everyday objects like fire pits and kitchen pits were discovered near the site. This implies that the location may have functioned as a community gathering spot in addition to a cemetery, possibly for funeral-related events.

There was something special about the whole place. The tombs are very close together. They must have been in an open landscape, with nearby communication routes, so everyone knew about them. Furthermore, all the tombs were very beautiful and meticulously worked. Each stone came from a different place and was precisely placed in the formation. We wondered who had made such an effort, says Fossum.

The burial site, unique in the European context, has sparked interest not only for its rarity but also for its emotional implications.

An associate professor of archaeology at the University of Stavanger, Håkon Reiersen emphasizes that this find connects us deeply with the universal human emotions related to the loss and mourning of children, showing that people in the past were not so different from us in terms of how they honored their dead.

Fossum finds it interesting that men, women, and especially children had their own tombs and received the same treatment for centuries.

“It seems that the social structure was more egalitarian, as there wasn’t much difference between the graves. The same types of graves, grave goods, and burial methods were used. This suggests a society where community was important,” she said.

Only one of the graves in the field is dated to after the year 0. From that point on, burial practices gradually changed, with hierarchies and large burial mounds reserved only for those with status.

Viking sword with ‘very rare’ inscription discovered on family farm in Norway

Viking sword with ‘very rare’ inscription discovered on family farm in Norway

Viking sword with 'very rare' inscription discovered on family farm in Norway
A farmer in Norway’s southwestern Rogaland district found the clay-encrusted remains of the Viking Age sword in a field he was clearing.

While clearing a field on his farm, a Norwegian man discovered a rare Viking Age sword that’s thought to be 1,000 years old.

“We were about to start sowing grass on a field that has not been plowed for many years,” Øyvind Tveitane Lovra, who found the weapon, said in a translated statement. 

When a piece of old iron turned up, he was about to throw it away. But a closer inspection revealed that it was most of a centuries-old sword, so he contacted archaeologists with the local government, as Norwegian law requires.

“I quickly realized that this was not an everyday find,” said Lovra, who is a part-time farmer, ferry engineer and local politician in the Suldal municipality of Norway’s southwest Rogaland county. “It’s about our history, and it’s nice to know what has been here before.”

Rogaland government archaeologists recovered the artifact from his farm last week and have now confirmed that it is the remains of an iron sword from the Viking Age (A.D. 793 to 1066).

X-rays of the ancient iron weapon have revealed the contours of what appears to be an inscription inlaid on the blade.
The inscription suggests this may be a rare Ulfberht sword, which were made at this time in the Frankish Empire (modern Germany and France).

Notably, the sword seems to be of the rare type of Frankish origin known as Ulfberht swords, which are distinguished by inscriptions inlaid along their blades.

“This is very rare,” said Rogaland archaeologist Lars Søgaard Sørensen. “The sword was the greatest status symbol in the Viking Age, and it was a privilege to be allowed to wear a sword.”

Ancient sword

The remnant of the sword is about 14.5 inches (37 centimeters) long and consists of the handle, the cross guard and part of the blade. The rest of the blade is missing — about half its length — but archaeologists consider it surprisingly well preserved for Rogaland, where the soil generally has poorer conditions for preservation than other parts of Norway.

The sword was discovered by local man Øyvind Tveitane Lovra, who was clearing a field on his farm with his son Haakon.
Local folklore tells of a visit by a Viking ship to a fjord near the farm, and that the Vikings gave gifts to the farm’s landowners.

Sørensen said the sword seems to have been embedded in dense clay, which prevented the iron remains from being exposed to more oxygen and rusting away.

When the archaeologists X-rayed the sword in an attempt to find out more about it, the scans revealed the contours of an inscription on the blade.

“This means that it could be a so-called VLFBERHT [Ulfberht] sword from the Viking Age or the Early Middle Ages,” Sigmund Oehrl, a professor of archaeology at the University of Stavanger, said in the statement. “These are high-quality swords produced in the Frankish Empire [now Germany and France] that are marked with the weapon manufacturer’s name.” 

He noted that up to 4,000 swords from the Viking Age have been found throughout Europe, but only about 170 — 45 from Norway — have Ulfberht inscriptions.

“We are not aware of similar swords being found in Rogaland before,” he said.

The archaeologists estimate that the sword was made between 900 and 1050, which corresponds to the late Viking Age — roughly from 800 to 1066. 

Lovra thinks the sword arrived at the farm, which bears the family name, with Vikings bringing gifts — an event described in local folklore.

“I know that the Vikings sailed into the fjord and decorated the lady of the house at Lovra with nice things, including from Ireland,” he said in the statement.

Norway Couple Find Viking Age Grave Under house.

Norway Couple Find Viking Age Grave Under Their House

Norway Couple Find Viking Age Grave Under Their House
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 got quite the shock when renovating their old family house near Bodø in northern Norway this month.

After removing the floorboards and some sand with the intention to install insulation, the couple discovered several rocks. They continued digging and spotted something glittering in the light.

A Viking Age discovery

According to TV2 they first believed it was the wheel from a toy car, but as the floor had never been lifted since the house’s construction in 1914, it had to be something else. The item turned out to be a glass bead.

A glass bead was among the first objects discovered by the couple in northern Norway.

The couple also found a large iron axehead and several other iron objects. They contacted the Nordland county authority which has responsibility for cultural heritage. Experts from Tromsø museum visited the house the following day.

By Norwegian law, any cultural monuments that show traces of human activity prior to 1537 are automatically preserved.

A full excavation

Archaeologists have now started a full excavation of what they believe is a grave from the Viking Age. While such burial sites are not uncommon in Norway, this would be the first example of one found under a house.

Archaeologist Martinus Hauglid said that the glass bead and iron items are likely from the late Viking Age, when Norway transitioned to Christianity and became one kingdom.

“We assume it dates back to the 9th century, probably a grave from the Viking Age. Now there is a group of archaeologists from Tromsø doing a survey, and they will bring all the finds north,” he told Bodø Nu. The iron items and bead are already at Tromsø University for further study.

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

Unique Viking Age sword found in Norway

Unique Viking Age sword found in Norway

Unique Viking Age sword found in Norway

A piece of a sword was found last year on a farm in Gausel, in Stavanger, on Norway‘s west coast, this year another metal detector enthusiast found a large sword fragment.

Not only did the two pieces just fit together, but they also turned out to be parts of one of the most magnificently ornamented and heaviest sword types to date from the Viking Age.

The hilt pieces were found in the Gausel area of Stavanger on a field adjacent to the farm where the richly-furnished tomb of a Viking woman was discovered in 1883.

The first piece found was a small irregular piece, and the finder had no idea what it was, so he gave it to the Stavanger Archaeological Museum for further investigation.

A year later, a friend of the finder returned to the field and found a large section of an ornately decorated sword hilt. Museum conservators realized this was a match for the little fragment found the year before.

Sword hilt.

The hilt is from the most ornamented and heaviest Viking sword type, known as a D-sword. Despite the 3000 Viking sword finds, only 20 of these swords, known as the D-sword, have been found in Norway. They were either imported and/or copied meticulously by local smiths. The decorative style dates it to the early 9th century.

According to the press release, details on the hilt are still difficult to see but contain gilded elements of typical animal styles found in the Iron and Viking Ages from about ca 550 to 1050.

The hilt also has silver geometrical motifs created using the niello method. This indicates that the black stripes in the silver were created with a metallic combination of some type. The crossguard’s ends are shaped like animal heads on both sides.


The ornamentation may be indicate that the sword was originally made in the Frankish Empire or in England. The closest known parallel is a sword from the island of Eigg in Scotland, found in a ninth-century tomb.

“The technique is of a very high quality, and both the lavish and complicated decor and the special formation of the crossguard make this a truly unique find,” archaeologist Zanette Glørstad from the Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger, says in the press release.

The hilt is now undergoing cleaning and conservation before it goes on permanent display at the museum.

Rare Byzantine Gold Coin Discovered In Norway – Was It Brought By Harald Hardrada From Constantinople

Rare Byzantine Gold Coin Discovered In Norway – Was It Brought By Harald Hardrada From Constantinople

A metal detectorist found a rare gold coin in the mountains in Vestre Slidre municipality depicting two emperors and Jesus Christ.

Archaeologists are now trying to determine how this 1,000-year-old Byzantine gold coin ended up in the Norwegian mountains. Could it have been part of the great treasure that Harald Hardrada brought home from Constantinople?

Window with a portrait of Harald Hardrada, Lerwick Town Hall, Shetland.

The coin was introduced in Byzantium around 960 A.D. and is unique in the Norwegian context.

According to May-Tove Smiseth, the county archaeologist for Innlandet County in Eastern Norway, the coin is the only one of its kind in Norway.

On one side of the coin, we “can see Christ holding the Bible, and on the other side, it is probably the emperors Basil II (left) and Constantine VIII (right) we see depicted. The two were brothers and ruled together,” Innlandet County Municipality wrote in a press release.

Presumably, the coin was minted early in the 11th century. The exact date is difficult to determine, but the dotted border suggests that it was late in Basil’s and Constantine’s reign, Smiseth explains.

The coin also bears two inscriptions. In Latin, it says Jesus Christ, King of those who rule, and in Greek, it reads Basil and Constantine, emperors of the Romans.

The treasure of Harald Hardrada

In some way or another, the coin found its way to Valdres in Norway.

Perhaps it was originally part of the treasures Harald Hardrada amassed after serving in the Varangian Guard for the Byzantine emperor in 1034? The Varangian Guard consisted of Scandinavian mercenaries who served as bodyguards and were known as being fearless and strong,” Science in Norway reports.

Rare Byzantine Gold Coin Discovered In Norway – Was It Brought By Harald Hardrada From Constantinople
On one side of the coin, the emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII are probably depicted.

During his stay in Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey), Harald Hardrada was part of the Varangian Guard and served the Emperor. In older Byzantine sources, Hardrada is referred to as Araltes. At that time, it was customary for the guards to be given the right to loot the palace and take all the valuables they could find when the emperor died. During Hardrada’s time in Byzantium, three emperors had died.

From Harald Hardrada’s Saga by Wilhelm Wetlesen (1871-1925), from Snorre Sturluson: Heimskringla, 1899 edition.

The treasures he acquired during his time as part of the Emperor’s guard in Constantinople, he sent to Prince Yaroslav in Kyiv. The treasures Harald collected were partly used as a dowry so that he could marry Ellisiv, one of the daughters of Prince Jaroslav of Kyiv.

Incidentally, Basil II, who is depicted on the coin, was Ellisiv’s great-uncle.

The sagas also tell us that Harald and his men returned home to Norway with immense wealth in 1046, with ships laden with gold and other valuables.

Harald Hardrada accepted Magnus the Good as co-king of Norway in 1046, as Basil II and Constantine VIII were depicted as co-regents on the coin.

On the other side of the coin we see Christ holding the Bible.

Smiseth explained “three Byzantine gold coins have been found in Sweden, none in Denmark, while 15 have been found in Norway—most of them from various treasure finds made in the 19th century. This includes the recent find in Valdres.

“It’s reasonable to believe that this coin could be from the treasures that Harald Hardrada brought with him. He received a lot of gold in payment from the three emperors in Byzantium who ruled while he was there,” Smiseth says.

“Harald acquired a lot of power by using the gold he returned with to build alliances.”

Scientists will examine the site where the coin was found in 2024. Maybe, archaeologists can unearth something more valuable that can shed more light on the history of the Byzantine gold coin.

An incredible 1,000-year-old Viking burial site found in Norway belonged to ‘Iron Age elite’

An incredible 1,000-year-old Viking burial site found in Norway belonged to ‘Iron Age elite’

A hidden surprise was uncovered by archaeological excavation in Trondheim, Norway – the unmistakable traces of a boat submerged under Torvet, the market square of the city.

An incredible 1,000-year-old Viking burial site found in Norway belonged to ‘Iron Age elite’
A digital reconstruction of what the Viking ship under the ground may look like

In the last available moments, before archaeologists decided to finish their exploration, the discovery came only in the nick of time, so that the market square could be filled in and re-paved for use as the market and meeting place of the city.

The wood had long since rotted away, and it was disturbed by posts being planted in the ground, but the form of a feature in the soil was too normal to be natural – the shape of a boat about 4 metres (13 feet) in length, oriented in a location roughly north-south. There was no real boat to be found.

Careful digging confirmed the find. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage (NIKU) archaeologists found lumps of rust and nails that indicated yes, the feature was indeed a boat.

It’s believed that Trondheim was founded by Viking king Olav Tryggvason in the year 997, but archaeological evidence suggests that people have been living there for thousands of years.

While none of the boat’s wood remains, preserved lumps of rust and nails indicate a boat was buried at the site between the 7th and 10th centuries AD

There are large gaps in Trondheim’s history, though, because of a great fire that ravaged the predominantly wooden city in 1681.

The city has been undergoing major excavation work over the past few years to try and find out some of its history. In September of last year, NIKU archaeologists uncovered an 11th century church under Peter Egges plass, where Olav Haraldsson, former Viking king and patron saint of Norway, was first enshrined as a saint.

They also found a graveyard containing hundreds of graves, and a well-preserved bronze crucifix.

The boat dig is from even earlier, probably dating back to around the 7th-10th century, if a piece of spoon and broken key found in the excavation belong to the burial.

Other items found in the boat were a small piece of sheet bronze, objects that were probably personal effects, and two long bones, also oriented north-south.

These bones are quite dilapidated, so DNA tests will need to be conducted to confirm that they are human.

The location of the burial away from the harbour and fjord dates the burial back to the late Iron Age or early Viking Age, when the Scandinavian Viking started exploring the northern hemisphere by sea.

“It is likely a boat that has been dug down into the ground and been used as a coffin for the dead. There has also probably been a burial mound over the boat and grave,” said NIKU early boat expert Knut Paasche.

He added that the boat was very similar to Åfjord boats, often seen in burials along the Trondelag coast. This, however, is the first time one has been found within the city of Trondheim.

“This type of boat is relatively flat in the bottom midship. The boat can also be flat-bottomed as it is intended to go into shallow waters on the river Nidelven,” he said.

More research will be required to confirm that the find is, indeed, a burial, but its presence further confirms the existence of a settlement older than Olaf Tryggvason’s Trondheim.

Family Looking For Lost Gold Ring Finds Viking Age Artifacts In Their Garden On The Island Of Jomfruland

Family Looking For Lost Gold Ring Finds Viking Age Artifacts In Their Garden On The Island Of Jomfruland

While searching for a missing gold ring with a metal detector, a family in Norway found, to their big surprise, something entirely different in their garden on the island of Jomfruland.

Jan Erik Aasvik has a metal detector he almost never uses, but he thought he would try it to search for his mother’s missing gold ring.

Family Looking For Lost Gold Ring Finds Viking Age Artifacts In Their Garden On The Island Of Jomfruland
The artifacts were found by the Aasvik family. Suit buckles were not uncommon in the Viking Age. They functioned as decoration and helped keep clothes in place, says archaeologist Vibeke Lia.

After finding a couple of different objects, the detector began beeping distinctly louder than on previous finds. Aasvik suspected this was a sign that something bigger was hidden beneath the soil, but what could it be?

“I took the spade and started digging. I think I was probably no further down than about 20-30 centimeters. I didn’t understand what it was, but it looked old.

I am a member of a group of people who use metal detectors, so I posted a picture there. I am a beginner, but in that group, there are many who have more experience than me”, Aasvik told Kragerø Vestmar.

The Aasvik family was as surprised as happy.

The Aasvik family had discovered a bowl-shaped buckle and a round buckle. Both objects have been there since the 8th century and were used together with clothing in the Viking Age.

Archaeologist Vibeke Lia in Vestfold and Telemark County Municipality, who has seen the buckles, says it is an incredible find, and 1,200-year-old artifacts are in good condition.

“As far as I know, it is the first secure find we have from the Viking Age on Jomfruland,” Lia told the NRK Vestfoldogtelemark, adding this is an exciting archaeological find.

The buckle proves people lived on the island of Jomfruland during the Viking Age.

It is possible there may be a Viking Age grave belonging to a woman at the site, the Cultural Heritage Department in Vestfold and Telemark County said in a press statement.

The find is significant to the history of the region. It was previously assumed people lived on the island in Kragerø during the Viking Age, but scientists have been unable to confirm it until now.

Lia believes there may be more objects in the ground at the site but says digging for more is inappropriate.

“If it is a grave, it is protected. We will rather try to find out more in other ways,” she said.

Viking Age Horse Bridle Found Under The Ice 2,000 Meters Above Sea Level

Viking Age Horse Bridle Found Under The Ice 2,000 Meters Above Sea Level

Glacial archaeologists working in Norway have once again discovered fascinating ancient artifacts under the ice. Near a mountain pass, not far from Norway’s highest mountain, Galdhøpiggen, archaeologists have found traces of horse travel.

Galdhøpiggen is the tallest mountain in Norway.

A metal bit and parts of the leather straps that fasten around the horse’s head have emerged from under the ice.

“The bridle has a shape that suggests it could be from the Viking Age,” Espen Finstad, a glacial archaeologist at Innlandet County Municipality told Science In Norway.

Viking Age People And Horses Crossed The Tall Norwegian Mountain

Galdhøpiggen is the highest mountain in Norway, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe. The 2,469-metre-tall (8,100 ft) mountain is located in Lom Municipality, and the Jotunheimen Mountains within Jotunheimen National Park. The view from the top is spectacular and Galdhøpiggen is today a popular tourist attraction, but one has to be careful and have good knowledge of climbing to get to the top.

Based on earlier excavations, scientists have been able to determine the traffic through a mountain pass on Lomseggen was at its peak during the Viking Age.

Snow and ice melting in the area have previously exposed hundreds of ancient artifacts in the region, revealing that Norwegians used this mountain pass for more than 1,200 years.

An ancient brindle offers evidence horses crossed the area.

However, as reported by Science in Norway, “the bridle that archaeologists have found this year suggests that it wasn’t just people who walked here.

Horses have also been part of the journey, almost 2,000 meters above sea level.

“We have never made such a discovery before. It essentially completes the picture that this is an ancient travel route,” Finstad says.

Carbon-14 Dating Will Reveal The Age Of The Bridle

The strap, or halter, which is attached to the bit, is especially exciting for the archaeologists.

It actually makes it possible to date the horse bridle.

Through carbon-14 dating, the archaeologists will find out if the find really is from the Viking Age.

The archaeologists also found part of an old horseshoe that had been lying under the ice.

Finstad estimates it will take a few months to get the final answer, but they are fairly certain that it originates from the Iron Age or the early Middle Ages.

Horse Manure And Horseshoes

The horse bridle is just one of the discoveries archaeologists have made on this year’s expedition.

They also found horse manure, textiles, horseshoes, leaf fodder, part of a horse snowshoe, a knife, and a variety of small wooden objects. Altogether, around 150 items.

Even though the mountain pass is like a gold mine for archaeologists, the finds are extremely rare in the grand scheme of things, Finnes points out.

The most special thing is that organic materials like wood, leather, textiles, and faeces have been preserved.

The ice has functioned as a freezer for hundreds of years. But now it’s melting.

“The fact that the ice is now melting due to man-made climate change is tragic. The paradox is that new and exciting knowledge about our common past is emerging,” Finnes says.

A remarkable ancient world is hidden beneath the ice, and now we are slowly learning more about it.