Viking Grave Found Under the Floorboards of a Home in Norway
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 are 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, representation of the find at the Viking burial site in Norway. (British Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0)
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.
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A glass bead was among the first objects discovered in the Viking grave. (Nordland County)
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 are 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. (Nordland County)
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 displayed at the National Museum of Iceland. (A.Davey / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Top image: The Viking grave discovered under the floorboards in Norway. Source: Nordland County.
By Ed Whelan