Category Archives: SWEDEN

A man stumbles across a 2,500-year-old Bronze Age treasure trove in Swedish forest – in pictures

A man stumbles across a 2,500-year-old Bronze Age treasure trove in Swedish forest – in pictures

The AFP reports that more than 50 Bronze Age artefacts were discovered in western Sweden by Tomas Karlsson, an orienteering enthusiast. The 2,500-year-old cache of bronze items includes necklaces, chains, needles, and eyelets used to decorate and construct clothing.

Conservator Madelene Skogbert shows a bone ring that is part of the about 50 whole or larger parts of bronze objects that have been found in Alingsas, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Among the relics, believed to be from the period between 750 and 500 BC, are some “very well preserved necklaces, chains and needles” made out of bronze.

The objects were lying out in the open in front of some boulders out in the forest.

“Presumably animals have dug them out of a crevice between the boulders, where you can assume that they had been lying before,” the government agency said.

Tomas Karlsson, the cartographer who made the discovery when he was out updating a map, at first thought, it was just junk.

“It looked like metal garbage. Is that a lamp lying here, I thought at first,” Karlsson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

He told the paper he then hunched over and saw a spiral and a necklace.

“But it all looked so new. I thought they were fake,” he continued.

He reported the find to local authorities who sent out a team of archaeologists to examine the site.

“Most of the finds are made up of bronze items that can be associated with women of high status from the Bronze Age,” Johan Ling, professor of archaeology at the University of Gothenburg, said in the statement.

“They have been used to adorn different body parts, such as necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets, but there were also large needles and eyelets used to decorate and hold up different pieces of clothing, probably made of wool,” Ling added.

In Sweden, a long-lost runestone from a Viking monument has been discovered

In Sweden, a long-lost runestone from a Viking monument has been discovered

The valuable runestone was found on a bridge across a nearby river as part of an eight-piece 10th-century monument. The discovery, according to scholars, would unleash a wealth of knowledge in several areas, including art, religious history, and archaeology.

One of the Hunnestad runestones, which had been missing since the 18th century, was discovered during construction work for a future sewer pipe outside the town of Ystad in southern Sweden.

The Hunnestad monument is estimated to date back to the 10th century and is seen as one of the country’s most remarkable monuments from the Viking Age.

Long-Lost Runestone From Viking Monument Recovered In Sweden
Archaeologist Axel Krogh Hansen at the statue that was found during the excavation in front of a sewer line.

The monument consisted of eight stones, three with pictures and two runestones.

It was discovered in the early 18th century but later disappeared. Some of the stones were found on land near Marsvinsholm Castle in 1814 and are on exhibition in Lund.

The recent find was discovered on a bridge over the Hunnestadsån River.

“A fantastic find, which you didn’t expect to happen. This stone has been gone for so long that we thought it had been destroyed”, Magnus Källström, runologist at the Swedish National Heritage Board, said in a statement.

According to Källström, the find will unlock a lot of new knowledge in several areas, including art, religious history, and archaeology.

“The fact that we have found one of the Hunnestad stones is really sensational”, Britta Roos, head of the cultural environment unit at the County Administrative Board of Skåne, said.

The famous drawing of the Hunnestad Monument by Ole Worm (Ole Worm (1588-1654)

Local man Max Rosell, who lives barely 20 metres from the find, was also elated.

“It feels a little crazy that it was so d*mn close. But it’s great fun for the village, we have all talked about the stones, people have wondered where they went. Some are in museums, now one is found and then there is only one left”, says Max Rosell.

According to the runes from the stones in Lund, the monument was erected by Esbern and Tomme.

They are presumed to have been outstanding men who, according to field archaeologist Axel Hansen, may have had connections to the Danish monarchy.

The Viking Age (793-1066) is a period when Norsemen known as Vikings undertook large-scale raids, conquests, and trading throughout Europe and established settlements in present-day Russia, southern Europe, Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles, and Greenland, and even reached North America (which they called Vinland).

17th-Century Warship Pulled From Icy Baltic Sea Is Almost Perfectly Preserved

17th-Century Warship Pulled From Icy Baltic Sea Is Almost Perfectly Preserved

In the 1620s, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden ordered the construction of a new warship to protect his citizens. The warship was named Vasa and its construction was hurried as the Swedes waged war in those years with the now-historic bi-confederation entity reigned by one monarch–the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Vasa’s port bow.
Vasa’s port bow.

After its creation, with several superlatives, the Vasa warship was described as being the largest and most capable battleship at the disposal of the Swedish navy.

The ship came to symbolize Sweden’s Great Power Period, in which the Nordic country controlled most of the Baltic Sea and forged its status as one of Europe’s most powerful kingdoms.

Warship in Vasa museum in Stockholm

The ship’s appearance was stunning, measuring 226 feet in length, 164 feet in height, and weighed more than 1,200 tons. With some 64 cannons installed on it, it promised whoever tried to mess with Vasa would face serious consequences. As it turned out, it never came to that.

The ship, against everyone’s expectations, proved to be fallible and faced an end that might easily remind people of the story of the RMS Titanic. Vasa did not hit an iceberg but still ignominiously sunk on its very first journey.

It was an embarrassing incident, overseen by crowds of Swedes who had gathered at the port of Stockholm from where the ship set sails towards the open seas for the very first and last time on August 10, 1628.

There were also prominent guests in the onlooking crowd, including royals and ambassadors from other countries. Having not sailed even one nautical mile, the mighty warship suddenly plunged into the water. Accounts point to errors happening during construction. The vessel was the work of a Dutch shipbuilder. The contract was signed early in the year 1625 and Vasa was one of four vessels agreed on the list with shipbuilder Henrik Hybertsson.

The original arrangement was to have two smaller and two bigger vessels. Hybertsson died shortly after undertaking the project, and the construction effort was taken over by his assistant, Hein Jakobsson.

Illustration from a treatise on salvaging from 1734, showing the traditional method of raising a wreck with the help of anchors and ships or hulks as pontoons, basically the same method that was used to raise Vasa in the 20th century.

Construction plans were obviously modified, as Vasa, which was supposed to be one of the two smaller ships, appeared to be fitting the pair of two bigger ships upon completion. The ship came out much heavier than planned. It also carried extra weights such as hundreds of sculptures and at least 100 tons of ballast.

More evidence shows that the Swedes had the warship tested and noticed something was wrong with it, but under the pushy demands of the king, Vasa was prematurely sailed into the open sea and towards its premature doom.

The preserved Vasa in the main hall of Vasa Museum seen from above the bow.

A strong gust of wind was enough to overturn the vessel. When the water began to enter, all it took was a few minutes for it to sink 105 feet below the surface.

The Swedes were quick to dismiss and forget Vasa. This was to be their new favourite war toy and national pride and joy, yet it now lay sunk on the bottom of the ocean on its maiden voyage. It was a scandal that hurt the reputation of the kingdom, as well as having huge economic repercussions. Vasa had costed a fortune.

While an investigation was ushered in immediately after the ship sank, little could be done. The main shipbuilder had already been dead for over a year.

Illustration of a Swedish Emperors: Gustav Vasa, Gustav Adolf, Dronning Christine, A. Oxenstierna, Charles Gustav, Charles IX, Torstenson

There were efforts to recover Vasa from the seafloor immediately, but the task seemed impossible with the limited technology of the time. By the 1660s, a group of divers was able to retrieve the cannons, using an early model of the diving bell. The shipwreck was eventually left abandoned and forgotten…until the mid-20th-century.

In 1961, a few years after the shipwreck was rediscovered and identified as the lost 17th-century Vasa vessel, Sweden finally managed to recover it. Although Vasa had for centuries remained submerged in the sea, upon its reappearance it seemed positively in pristine condition.

The underwater position where it had sunk was key. The water was dark enough to stop ultraviolet light from protruding and affecting the ship’s wood. The chilly temperature of the Baltic was also soothing, preventing any rapid deterioration processes.

The inside of the lower gun deck looking toward the bow.

Having sunk close enough to the harbour, there was enough pollution in the water to bleach most parasites that may have wanted to feast on the wood of the wreck.

But some decaying issues began once the ship was taken out of the water.  Vasa underwent restoration at that point and was treated with substances to protect the wood, however, lab research later confirmed that the wood of the ship was struggling with extremely slow, ongoing fibre degradation.

Vasa warship canon hatches detail

There is no threat of immediate collapse, but this has remained a major occupation for conservationists who are still looking for the best way to stop the risky process.

Should the Vasa museum where the shipwreck is famously displayed in Stockholm allow its prime exhibit to perish for the second time, it would be a huge national loss. The Vasa goes a long way and has a special history with the Swedes as well as being one of the best-preserved historical ships in all of the world.

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

The Battle of Visby was a violent Medieval battle near the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, fought between the inhabitants of Gotland and the Danes, with the latter emerging victorious.

The battle left a lasting archaeological legacy; masses of slaughtered soldiers and citizens lay scattered across what was once a bloody battlefield.

Slashed and broken bones, skeletons still in their chain mail and armour, and smashed skulls, some still with spears and knives protruding out of them. One can only imagine what they endured before they breathed their last breaths.

Visby, A Merchant’s Dream

During the Middle Ages, the island of Gotland, which lies off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, played an important role in the trade between Europe and Russia. As a result of this, the city of Visby flourished.

Since the late 13th century, Visby was a member of a confederation of North-western and Central European merchant towns later known as the Hanseatic League. This league protected the commercial interests of its members and was also a defensive pact.

Greedy King Sets His Sight on Visby

As the Hanseatic League grew in influence, it was seen as a threat by some rulers. One of these was Valdemar IV, the King of Denmark. The Danish ruler is said to have not been satisfied with the fact that the Hanseatic League was a rival to his kingdom’s trade interests.

In addition, Valdemar desired to get his hands on the wealth of the League’s towns. By the middle of the 14th century, Visby, although still a member of the Hanseatic League, is said to have decreased in importance, causing Valdemar to set his eyes on it.

Additionally, it is rumoured that the inhabitants of the town sang drinking songs mocking the king, thus causing him to hold a personal vendetta against them.

Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361 by Karl Gustaf Hellqvist

The Danes Invade

In the summer of 1361, a Danish army set sail for Gotland. The inhabitants of Visby had been warned about the invading Danish force and prepared themselves for the battle. In late July 1361, Valdermar’s army landed on the west coast of Gotland.

The Danish army numbered between 2000 and 2500 men and consisted mainly of experienced Danish and German mercenaries. The defending Gotlanders, on the other hand, numbered around 2000 and were militiamen with little or no experience of battle.   

The Battle of Visby  

The Gotlanders first tried to halt the advance of the Danish army at Mästerby, in the central part of the island. The defenders were crushed, and the Danes continued their march towards Visby. The Battle of Visby was fought before the walls of the town.

Although the militiamen were fighting for their lives and fought as best as they could, they were simply no match for the professional Danish army. As a result, the majority of the defenders were killed, and the town surrendered to Valdemar.

Mass Graves and Fallen Soldiers

Those who fell during the battle were buried in several mass graves and were left in peace until the 20 th century. Between 1905 and 1928, the mass graves were discovered and subsequently excavated.

More than 1100 human remains were unearthed, and these provide us with much detail about the battle. As an example, the types of weapons used during the Battle of Visby could be determined based on the injuries left on these remains.

About 450 of these wounds, for instance, were inflicted by cutting weapons, such as swords and axes, whilst wounds inflicted by piercing weapons, such as spears, and arrows, numbered around 120.

By studying the bones, it was also found that at least a third of the defenders of Visby were the elderly, children, or the crippled, an indication that the situation was very dire indeed for townsfolk.

Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.
Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.

It is assumed that the dead were buried quickly after the battle, and therefore were interred with the equipment they had during the battle, which included their armour and weapons.

Thanks to their excellent state of preservation, these remains are a unique archaeological find. Although not many of the defenders were well-equipped for the battle, there are several examples of chainmail shirts, coifs, gauntlets, and a variety of weapons.

These incredible remains, along with the human remains, are today displayed in the Gotland Museum and remain as a lasting legacy to the defenders of Visby.

Armored glove found at Visby. 

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden

The uncovered ancient dog is still over 8400 years old at the grave ground of the Stone Age city in Sweden. The canine was buried with remains of individuals, who were part of a traditional custom called ‘grave goods,’ the living would leave valuables or sentimental objects with the dead.

The bones were studied by an animal osteologist but there was no modern dog like that, who said it was ‘like a powerful greyhound. Originally established close to the ocean, the settlement was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years.

The location where the dog was discovered is part of an extensive site where municipal authorities and archaeologists perform one of the biggest archaeological digs ever in the city.

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden
Archaeologists uncovered ancient dog remains more than 8,400 years old at a Stone Age area burial site in Sweden. The canine was buried alongside human remains, which was part of an ancient tradition called ‘grave goods

The settlement is located in what is now Ljungaviken in Sölvesborg and has been a prime site for archaeologists since 2015. During the excavation, the team has found evidence of at least 56 structures that once stood at the site, along with postholes and pits.

The dog bones are a new discovery and have not been removed from the ground yet but archaeologists plan to eventually take them to the Blekinge Museum for study.

Osteologist Ola Magnell of the Blekinge Museum said of the discovery near the town of Solvesborg, said: ‘The dog is well preserved, and the fact that it is buried in the middle of the Stone Age settlement is unique,’

Museum project manager Carl Persson said ‘a sudden and violent increase of the sea level’ flooded the area with mud that had helped preserve the burial site. An ongoing archaeological excavation has involved removing layers of sand and mud.

The Swedish archaeologists said the dog was buried with a person, noting that survivors often leave valuable or sentimental objects with the dead. Such findings ‘makes you feel even closer to the people who lived here,’ Persson said in a statement.

The settlement, originally built near the coast, was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years
The area where the dog was found is part of a vast site where local authorities and archaeologists are currently carrying out one of the largest archaeological digs ever undertaken in the region. 

A buried dog somehow shows how similar we are over the millennia when it comes to feelings like grief and loss.’ The area is believed to have been inhabited by hunters during the Stone Age. A residential community is expected to be built on the burial site once the archaeologists are done.

Dogs seem to have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, as archaeologists are uncovering remains all over the world that suggest they were domesticated pets.

Earlier this month, a team discovered what they believe could be the oldest ever remains of a pet dog. Experts suspected the remains are between 14,000 and 20,000 years old, spanning back to the very dawn of the special relationship between humans and canines.

Researchers from the University of Siena in Italy hope their discovery can shed light on how dogs made the change from wild carnivores to loving companions.

One theory is that wolves became scavengers out of necessity due to a lack of food, and this took them close to human settlements. Some experts believe the animals and humans slowly developed a bond and the symbiotic relationship flourished from there.

Others think wolves and humans worked together when hunting and this is how the relationship spawned. The research team from Siena University hopes that the surviving fragments of one of the first dogs to live alongside humans as a pet could help find a definitive answer.

Dr. Francesco Boschin led a piece of research, published in August in Scientific Reports, on early canine remains found at two paleolithic caves in Southern Italy, the Paglicci Cave, and the Romanelli Cave.

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remain from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present.

‘This unambiguously documents one of the earliest occurrences of domesticates in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean.’

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remain from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present’

However, a further analysis which is still ongoing shows this figure could indeed be much later, towards 20,000 years, Dr. Boschin told RealPress.

From an archaeological point of view, the oldest remains of domesticated dogs were found in Central Europe and date back 16,000 years,’ Boschin said.

‘In the Mediterranean area we have now established that domesticated dogs lived here 14,000 years ago for sure, but possibly even 20,000 years ago

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

LUND, SWEDEN—According to a Science Magazine report, researchers led by Adam Boethius of Lund University found that preservation conditions at a Mesolithic site in southern Sweden have deteriorated significantly in the 75 years since excavations first began there.

Ageröd is one of many peat bog sites whose anaerobic conditions have preserved bone, teeth, antler fragments, and other artifacts for more than 8,000 years.

The wrinkles on the face of “Tollund Man” are still visible, even though he died more than 2,200 years ago. The mossy wetlands in Denmark that mummified his body are ideal for preserving organic matter, giving archaeologists an extraordinary window into our distant past. But a recent excavation at a similarly boggy site in Sweden shows these perfect conditions are fragile, and when they break down, so, too, do the bodies, bones, and other organic remains that have been preserved for centuries.

Peat moss around a pool in Cairngorms National Park in the United Kingdom

The finding suggests a long-standing tenet of archaeology—avoiding excavation and leaving artifacts in the ground for long-term preservation—needs revisiting, at least for some wetland sites.

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested the condition of remains excavated from wetlands like peat bogs is declining, says Benjamin Gearey, a wetland archaeologist at University College Cork who was not involved with this study. For example, bone deterioration has been documented at Star Carr, an archaeological site in northern England. But it’s been hard to know how widespread the pattern is–and how fast the decay is occurring.

Ageröd, a peat bog in the south of Sweden that holds bones, antlers, and other artifacts from Mesolithic cultures that flourished more than 8,000 years ago, is a good place to measure the pace of decay in a peat bog, says Adam Boethius, an archaeologist at Lund University.

Boethius and his colleagues compared bones freshly excavated in 2019 with bones that had been exhumed from the bog in the 1940s and 1970s and stored in the Lund University Historical Museum. They rated the weathering of each bone, from well-preserved ones—those that were shiny and crack-free—to dull bones with worn outer surfaces.

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

The bones from the 2019 excavation were so weathered that their scoring system broke down. Some had lost more than half a centimeter of their outer layer.

Other sections of the site where they expected to find remains yielded no bones at all, suggesting they had entirely decomposed. The best-preserved bones from the 2019 excavation were in roughly the same condition as the worst-preserved bones from the 1970s, they write today in PLOS ONE.

A weathered wild boar heel bone from the 2019 Ageröd excavation

They found that deterioration was already underway in the 1970s. Bones from these excavations were more weathered than those excavated in the 1940s. What’s more, the same pattern with the 2019 bones appeared: The best-preserved 1970s bones were in a similar condition to the worst preserved 1940s bones.

The culprit is oxygen, the researchers say. Organic material trapped below the mossy surface of intact peat bogs is starved of oxygen, creating an environment too hostile for the fungi and bacteria that would normally break down plants or bones. But with excavation comes oxygen, which reacts with buried iron sulfide to produce sulfuric acid.

Another factor is a farming activity, which has slowly drained the wetland, damaging the protective surface and allowing oxygen in. It’s very likely that the groundwater in the whole area has become more acidic, Boethius says.

This means bones soaking in deep, wet layers will be rapidly destroyed. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events induced by climate change—including both droughts and floods—may also contribute to the problem, he adds.

The study is “sobering,” and demonstrates the “catastrophic loss of irreplaceable organic archaeological remains” in wetland sites across Europe, Gearey says.

It also highlights how important it is for researchers to better understand preservation and decay and raises questions about the default strategy of preserving remains in the ground, says Reading University archaeologist Martin Bell.

“If you can’t preserve it in the ground, you have to dig it up,” Gearey says. With poor understanding and monitoring of the conditions of wetland sites, leaving the treasure in the ground at sites like Ageröd is not an option for Boethius. “We need to excavate now,” he says. “If we wait for 10 or 20 years, everything will be gone.”

The stunning 3D face of ‘jawless’ Stone Age man whose head was found on a SPIKE revealed

The stunning 3D face of ‘jawless’ Stone Age man whose head was found on a SPIKE revealed

It is likely that the world never understands why the head of the man from Stone Age is on a stake and tossed into an underwater grave, but now it will see his face. 

The technology of 3D face reconstruction was used by a forensic artist to put together the features on an 8,000-year-old jawless skull to depict one individual with a pointy nose, a broad stir, and a long beard. The facial muscles and skin were formed using different factors such as the man’s weight, height, and ethnicity.

The skull was one of at least 12, including an infant, found in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden and experts believe the group may have been murdered during an ancient ritual.

In a note, Nilsson said to ‘ I rebuilt the face with a forensic reconstruction technique based on the expected depth of tissue of several anatomic landmarks of the skull alongside the rebuilding of the facial muscles. ‘

‘There are also reliable techniques to reconstruct specific parts of the face: the nose, the eyes and the mouth, from information and traces on the skull.’

The original findings, from researchers at Stockholm University and Sweden’s Cultural Heritage Foundation (CHF) in 2018, is the first evidence that Stone Age hunter-gatherers displayed heads on wooden spikes.

‘Here, we have an example of a very complex ritual, which is very structured,’ lead researcher Dr Fredrik Hallgren, from CHF, told Daily Mail.

‘Even though we can’t decipher the meaning of the ritual, we can still appreciate the complexity of it, of these prehistoric hunter-gatherers.’

Why this man, and the others, met such a horrific death may stay a mystery, but Oscar Nilsson, a Sweden-based forensic artist, has shown us what the ancient victim looked like.

The jawless skull (pictured) was one of at least 12, including an infant, found in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden and experts believe the group may have been murdered during an ancient ritual.

‘The Stone Age, and the Mesolithic period, is absolutely a favorite period for me. However these individuals from the Mesolithic genetically are so alike us today, the culture, the way they saw their world yet are so different from our understanding, beliefs, and values. So alike, but so distant,’ explained Nilsson. 

‘Moreover, the finding from Motala is so special: the skulls of 10 individuals were placed on wooden poles, just above the ancient lakes´surface.

‘Furthermore, they all had several healed traumas from violence. Stone Age was violent, but this is something else, one can almost suspect that the violence was ritual. Unusually frequent anyway.’ 

Also, his DNA was so well preserved that it was possible to get information on the colors of hair, eyes, and skin. Nilsson took a computer tomography scan of the skull and printed a 3D replica in vinyl plastic, Daily Mail reported.

Because the jaw was missing from the skull, he had to take a measurement of where it once was in order to reconstruct it. Although there is no evidence of what the man wore, Nilsson made choices on the wardrobe and haircut based on items found in the grave.

Archaeologists uncovered remains from a range of animals including brown bears, wild boars, red deer, moose, and roe deer.  The man’s hair was reconstructed to be short with a longer portion pulled back in a small ponytail.

Meanwhile, the white chalk decorating the man’s chest is a piece of artistic license, based on the fact that many Indigenous groups today use chalk for body paint, Nilsson said. 

‘It’s a reminder we cannot understand their aesthetic taste, just observe it.’ We have no reason to believe these people were less interested in their looks, and to express their individuality than we are today.’

Researchers uncovered the man’s skull, along with the 12 others, in 2018. Seven of the adults likely died in agony and had suffered serious trauma to their head before they died, which researchers suggest were the result of non-lethal, violent blows.

These may have been the result of interpersonal violence, forced abduction, warfare, and aids of socially-sanctioned violence between group members. The bodies were placed atop a densely packed layer of large stones in what would have been an elaborate underwater burial between 7,500 and 8,500 years ago.

Only one of the bodies still had a jawbone when it was buried, which experts suggest were removed as part of the burial ritual.

Two Viking Boat Graves—With a Warrior Inside—Found in Sweden

Two Viking Boat Graves—With a Warrior Inside—Found in Sweden

Previously, two Viking burial boats in Uppsala, Sweden have been unraveled by archaeologists the remains of a dog, a man, and a horse are remarkably preserved.

The horse skeleton.

A few of the powerful elites were sent back to their afterlife by the Vikings in boats laden with sacrificed animals, weapons and artifacts; the funeral practice dates back to the Iron Age (A.D. 550 to 800) but was used throughout the Viking age (A.D. 800 to 1050), according to a statement.

Throughout Scandinavia, several richly decorated gravestones have been found. For example, archeologists had already discovered one of those burial boats throughout Norway with evidence of human remains, and one in western Scotland with many burial artifacts, including an ax, a shield boss, a ringed pin a hammer and tongs.

Recent excavations of Viking boat burials reveal the remains of a man, a horse, and a dog.

The elites who were given such elaborate send-offs were also often buried with animals, such as stallions.

These burial boats were typically built with overlapping wooden planks (called “clinker-built”) and had symmetrical ends, a true keel, and overlapping planks joined together, said Johan Anund, the regional manager for The Archaeologists, an archeological organization working with the National Historical Museums in Sweden.

A man’s remains were discovered in one of the boat graves. 

Archaeologists have also found other, simpler boat structures, such as logboats, which are like a dugout wide canoe, Anand told Live Science in an email. 

The remains of the dog and the horse were nestled in the bow of the well-preserved boat, while the remains of the man were found in the stern.

“We don’t know much” about the man yet, Anund said. But analysis of the skeleton will reveal how old he was, how tall he was and if he had any injuries or diseases. Anund’s group may even be able to figure out where the man grew up and where he lived for most of his life, Anund said.

As for the animals buried with him, they could have been sacrificed to help the dead person on the “other side” but could also be there to show the man’s status and rank, Anund said. It’s common to find horses and dogs in such burials, but also big birds like falcons.

Archaeologists also found other items on the boat such as a sword, spear, shield, an ornate comb, and leftover wood and iron nails that were likely used in its construction.

A comb and a part of a shield were discovered in one of the boat graves.

The other boat was badly damaged, probably because a 16th-century medieval cellar was built right on top of it, according to the statement.

Some human and animal bones were still preserved on the damaged ship, but they seem to have been moved around, making it difficult for archaeologists to say much about them, Anund said.

Archaeologists discovered the ships, the well, and the cellar after a plot of land outside Uppsala was marked off to become a new building for the vicarage of Gamla Uppsala parish.

They excavated the boats last month and some of the finds will go on display at Gamla Uppsala museum and the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.