Category Archives: 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

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.

Archaeologists surprised when 3,500 year old arrowheads made of shells melted out of the ice in the Norwegian mountains

Archaeologists surprised when 3,500 year old arrowheads made of shells melted out of the ice in the Norwegian mountains

Archaeologists surprised when 3,500 year old arrowheads made of shells melted out of the ice in the Norwegian mountains
The arrowheads of freshwater pearl mussel were found together with shafts and sinew. The scale at the bottom of the photo shows millimeters.

Unique arrowheads made of freshwater pearl mussel have melted out of the ice in the mountains in Jotunheimen in Norway. Arrowheads like this have not been found anywhere else in the world, according to archaeologist.

They were in use only a couple of hundred years, and nobody knows why.

“Why they chose to use shells to make arrowheads is something to ponder,” says archaeologist Lars Pilø.

“Folks at the time did have access to stone which can be used to make arrowheads, and they also used bone and antlers,” he says.

Melting out of the ice

Pilø is an archaeologist in Innlandet County Municipality where he heads the renowned glacier archaeological program Secrets of the Ice. Archaeologists have collected several thousands of finds from glaciers and ice patches in the Norwegian mountains since the onset of the program in 2011.

Arrowheads made of shell is breaking news, according to glacial archaeologist Lars Pilø.

“Our glacial archaeologists were very surprised when the first arrowhead made from mussel shells melted out the ice. Now they have found a total of three,” Pilø tells

In addition, some such arrowheads have been found in two other locations in mid-Norway.

“We have also found arrow shafts with the same type of fixing. These have most likely also had shell arrowheads,” Pilø says.

The archaeologists have also found the sinew used to bind the arrowheads. At the other end of the arrow, the shaft has been fitted with feathers. The arrowheads are probably made out of freshwater pearl mussels – Margaritifera margaritifera.

Short time period

The finds were made in a small area, and stem from a short time period.

“This has been a short-lived tradition, from the Early Bronze Age around 3,700 to 3,500 years ago,” Pilø says.

The freshwater pearl mussels have probably not existed in the areas where the arrowheads were found. The arrows have apparently been made in the lowlands, and then hunters have brought them up in the mountains to go hunting.

When several thousands of years old ice melts, archaeologists are finding incredibly well-preserved items.

“Objects that have been encapsulated in the ice have in a way become frozen in time. They don’t age. This way also the organic material is preserved,” Pilø explains.

A different kind of find

Professor of archaeology Christopher Prescott at the University of Oslo also talks about these unique conditions of preservation:

Archaeologist Christopher Prescott does not know of other finds of arrows made of shell.

“Mountain archaeology has a long history in Norway. The interesting things is that they can find these organic components,” he says.

Usually, when archaeologists excavate an open area, they only find the hardest materials.

“We know that human culture also consists of many other things. I have myself found pearls made from mother of pearl which were more than 4,000 years old. Shells are a part of this type of find, but as far as I know this is one of few or perhaps the first time that such arrowheads made from shells have been found,” Prescott says.

Going hunting

And in keeping with this, Lars Pilø talks about the find as breaking news.

“Arrowheads made from mussels were completely unknown in Norway before the melting started, and they have not been found anywhere else in the world,” he says.

What archaeologists do not know yet, however, is what it was like to go hunting with shell arrowheads.

“The only way to find out is to do experimental archaeology, meaning we will make and try to shoot with a few different types of arrowheads,” Pilø says.

“For the hunter this was about needing the arrowhead to penetrate the animal and create a proper wound. I would imagine that sharp mussels are quite well suited to do so,” he says.

Oldest shoe in Norway, dating to 3,000 years ago, recovered from melting ice patch

Oldest shoe in Norway, dating to 3,000 years ago, recovered from melting ice patch

The oldest shoe in Norway — a 3,000-year-old bootie from the Bronze Age — is just one of thousands of ancient artifacts that were recovered from the country’s melting mountain ice patches in the past two decades, according to a new report from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Oldest shoe in Norway, dating to 3,000 years ago, recovered from melting ice patch
3,000 years ago, someone lost a shoe in the mountains of Norway.

Unlike objects trapped in acidic soil or beneath gargantuan glaciers, the artifacts recovered from Norwegian ice patches are often found in impeccable condition, showing minimal decomposition and deformation, even after thousands of years of frozen slumber. That’s because ice patches are relatively stable, unmoving and free from corrosive compounds.

Perfectly intact weapons, clothing, textiles, and plant and animal remains have all emerged from the ice, helping to bring thousands of years of Norwegian history to light.

But now, the report authors said, climate change could bring that all to an end.

Within just a few decades, vast swaths of Norway’s ice patches have begun to melt, exposing undiscovered artifacts to the elements and almost certain deterioration, the authors wrote.

“A survey based on satellite images taken in 2020 shows that more than 40 percent of 10 selected ice patches with known finds have melted away,” report co-author Birgitte Skar, an archaeologist and associate professor at the NTNU University Museum, said in a statement. “These figures suggest a significant threat for preserving discoveries from the ice, not to mention the ice as a climate archive.”

Exceptionally well-preserved arrows from the Bronze Age have melted out of the Løpesfonna ice patch in Oppdal municipality in central Norway. They have intact lashing and projectiles made from shells.

The melting past

Ice patches form at high elevations, where snow and ice deposits accumulate and don’t completely melt in the summer. Unlike glaciers, ice patches don’t move, so objects deposited in ice patches can remain stable for hundreds or thousands of years.

When the ice begins to melt, those objects return to the light of day, preserved just as they were when the ice swallowed them up. However, if scientists aren’t able to recover these objects soon after the melting begins, then they run the risk of losing the artifacts to the elements.

Ice patch archaeology has been a tremendous boon to researchers studying the ancient cultures, plants and animals in frosty, elevated regions around the world. In Norway, researchers have uncovered thousands of artifacts belonging to the Bronze Age hunting tribes who hunted reindeer across Northern Europe and southern Scandinavia.

According to the new report, reindeer are drawn to the region’s mountainous ice patches in summer months to seek relief from biting insects and the heat. Where the reindeer went, hunters followed, leaving troves of artifacts behind.

The 3,000-year-old shoe, which was discovered in 2007 in the mountainous region of Jotunheimen in southern Norway, remains a standout find. The small leather shoe would be a size 4 or 5 in today’s U.S. sizes, suggesting it belonged either to a woman or a youth.

The shoe was discovered alongside several arrows and a wooden spade, suggesting the site was an important hunting ground. Dated to approximately 1100 B.C., the shoe is not only the oldest shoe in Norway, but possibly the oldest article of clothing discovered in Scandinavia, according to the researchers who discovered it.

Further surveys of the Jotunheimen site revealed even older artifacts, including a 6,100-year-old arrow shaft — the single oldest object discovered in a Norwegian ice patch, according to the researchers. Its presence near the shoe, suggests that the site was continuously used by humans over many millennia.

Despite these remarkable finds, the report authors worry that countless other cultural artifacts could disappear before they are recovered, thanks to the effects of climate change. A 2022 report from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate estimates that 140 square miles (364 square kilometers) of ice patches — an area roughly half the size of New York City — have melted since 2006. If artifacts are not recovered from these patches soon after they are exposed, they risk being lost, damaged or destroyed forever.

Few ice patches in Norway have been systematically surveyed, especially in northern Norway, which remains mostly unstudied. To mitigate this, the researchers suggest launching a national ice patch monitoring program, using remote sensors to systematically survey ice patches and secure any objects that emerge from the melt.

“We used to think of the ice as desolate and lifeless and therefore not very important. That’s changing now, but it’s urgent,” report co-author Jørgen Rosvold, a biologist and assistant research director at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, said in the statement. “Large amounts of unique material are melting out and disappearing forever.”

Reconstruction Shows Teen Who Died in Norway 8,300 Years Ago

Reconstruction Shows Teen Who Died in Norway 8,300 Years Ago

About 8,300 years ago, a teenage boy with an unusual skull and short stature may have scampered along the rocky coast of what is now Norway, pausing to regain his balance as he clutched a fishing rod. Now, a new full-body reconstruction of the Stone Age teenager — nicknamed Vistegutten, Norwegian for “the boy from Viste” — is on display at the Hå Gamle Prestegard museum in southern Norway.

The boy’s reconstruction was a months-long project, but researchers have known about Vistegutten since 1907, when archaeologists found his remains in a Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, cave in Randaberg, along Norway’s western coast. 

A few things stand out about the 15-year-old boy: At 4 feet, 1 inch (1.25 meters) tall, he was short for his age, even by Mesolithic standards; a condition known as scaphocephaly meant that his skull had fused too early, forcing his head to grow backward instead of sideways; and he may have died alone, as his remains were found as if he had been leaning against a cave wall. 

“Either he was placed like this after his death, or he actually died in this position,” Oscar Nilsson, a forensic artist based in Sweden who created the boy’s likeness, told Live Science in an email. “This can give the impression of a lonely boy, waiting in vain for his friends and family to show up … but we know nothing about how he died.”

Reconstruction Shows Teen Who Died in Norway 8,300 Years Ago
The boy from Viste lived along the windy Norwegian coast, “so I worked quite a lot to make it look as if the wind blows in his hair and clothes,” Nilsson said.

Scaphocephaly occurs when the sagittal suture on the top of the skull fuses too early, giving the skull a ridged appearance. But “it is not associated with any developmental problems or intellectual disabilities,” Sean Dexter Denham, an osteologist at the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Stavanger in Norway who helped analyze the skeleton, told Live Science in an email. And while the boy’s unusual skull and short stature may have given him a unique appearance, his remains suggest he was well-fed and healthy. 

“The sheer volume of animal remains found at the site also attests to a plentiful food supply,” Denham said. The cave, which is about 30 feet (9 m) deep and 16 feet (5 m) wide, is filled with kitchen waste; ornaments, such as decorated bone pendants; and fishing tools, including hooks, harpoons and barbed bone points, suggesting that ancient “people lived, worked, cooked and slept at the Viste site,” Nilsson said. 

“The fishing hook that the reconstruction of the boy from Viste holds in his hand is a replica of one of these findings,” Nilsson noted. 

The preserved skull of Vistegutten, Norwegian for “the boy from Viste.”

To make the reconstruction, two computed tomography (CT) scans were taken of the skull, allowing Nilsson to create a 3D-printed plastic replica. Because he wasn’t sure about the boy’s facial tissue thickness, Nilsson relied on measurements of modern Northern European 15-year-old boys. “Of course, we don’t know how transferable these measurements are to someone who lived 8,000 years ago,” Nilsson said. “But it’s the best we can guess.”

He noticed that the forehead was “quite childish in appearance, rounded and projecting from the face a bit. This is most probably coming from the scaphocephaly,” Nilsson said, adding that the teenager also had a thin nasal ridge but a nose that was “rather broad at the lower parts.” 

The reconstruction depicts the boy from Viste wearing a necklace made of a broken shell and salmon vertebrae.

An analysis of the boy’s DNA showed that his skin tone, hair, and eye color “likely would be close to the other ‘Norwegian’ findings from the period,” including mostly brown eyes, dark hair, and intermediate skin tone, Nilsson added. 

He intended to give the teenager a subtle smile, “but as I got deeper into the project, I could not get rid of a feeling of a lonely boy,” Nilsson said. “I imagine him on his way to the sea (which at his time was extremely near the cave) to catch some fish. It is very windy in this part of Norway, so I worked quite a lot to make it look as if the wind blows in his hair and clothes.”

The teenager’s skeletal remains were found inside a cave used by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. It’s unclear if the boy died there or if he was placed in the cave after death.

Stone Age wardrobe

The boy’s clothes are made by Helena Gjaerum, a Sweden-based independent archaeologist who uses prehistoric techniques for tanning leather. “Oscar wanted a summer outfit and that the boy would be barefoot, standing on the beach,” Gjaerum told Live Science in an email. “Therefore, a tunic was decided from the beginning.”

She made the tunic from de-haired and fat-tanned elk skin, and put two bark-tanned salmon skins around his waist. A bag that hangs off his belt was sewn from deerskin. All of these animals’ remains were found at the archaeological site. To add to the authenticity, “The suit is sewn with both sinew thread and leather straps,” Gjaerum explained. “It is smeared with ash and grease to look believable.”

The boy’s necklace was crafted from salmon vertebrae and a broken seashell. His remains are “one of the oldest skeletons ever found in Norway,” Kristine Orestad Sørgaard, an archaeologist at the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Stavanger who helped Nilsson understand the archaeological context, told Live Science in an email. “It’s a great reminder that people in the past were very much like us, despite living in a world very different from our own.”