All  
Evidence of Viking rituals and battles against evil have been discovered in Iceland’s Surtshellir lava cave along with a stone boat and unusual artifacts like beads from the Middle East.

Researchers Find Remains of 'Satanic' Viking Rituals in Icelandic Cave

Print

A group of archaeologists have found a unique Viking age site, 300 meters (984 feet) beyond the entrance of Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, that appears to have been used for Viking rituals. The most amazing cave find was a boat-shaped structure made of rocks. Rare artifacts like beads from the Arabian Peninsula, remains of orpiment (a deep colored, orange-yellow arsenic sulfide) were also found inside this ancient cave. A group of archaeologists and researchers from the USA, Iceland and Norway undertook excavations and field studies in the Icelandic cave of Viking rituals, and recently published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science .

Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, named after the Viking fire giant Surtr, was the site of satanic Viking rituals according to the latest research paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (John Charles Dollman / Public domain)

Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, named after the Viking fire giant Surtr, was the site of satanic Viking rituals according to the latest research paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (John Charles Dollman / Public domain )

Surtshellir Cave, Norse Mythology, and Dark Viking Rituals

Named after the Viking fire giant, Surtr, Surtshellir cave is one of the many lava caves located in western Iceland. Incidentally, it is the longest lava cave in the country, approximately a mile long (1.6 km) and the first known lava tube in the world. The cave is located near a volcano that erupted 1100 years ago, and amongst the locals, there’s an aura of mystery and intrigue. The Icelanders inhabiting the nearby mountains say that murderous ghosts and their spirits reside within, prompting numerous superstitions and folklore.

According to Norse mythology, Surtr was present at both the creation of the world and its destruction, after the Battle of Ragnarok. Ragnarok refers to the events foreshadowing the great battle, leading to the death of a great number of important figures like Odin, Loki, Thor, and others, along with natural disasters and the submersion of the world.

It is a massively important event in Viking history, and occupies not just the popular imagination, but is also the subject of serious debate, study, and academic scholarship. “The impacts of this eruption must have been unsettling, posing existential challenges for Iceland's newly arrived settlers,” wrote the authors of the study.

The outline of the stone boat found in the Icelandic cave where Viking rituals were held. The boat was surrounded with the remains of various domestic animals. (Journal of Archaeological Science)

The outline of the stone boat found in the Icelandic cave where Viking rituals were held. The boat was surrounded with the remains of various domestic animals. ( Journal of Archaeological Science )

Nordic Viking Rituals And The Evidence Found in the Cave

Radiocarbon dating, fieldwork from three occasions (2001, 2012, and 2013), and tephrochronological dates provided the ground for Bayesian analyses that revealed that the cave was formed as a result of the first volcanic eruption witnessed by northern Europeans, some 1100 years ago.

The Nordic Vikings, who were seafaring conquerors from southern Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) were at their peak between the 8 th and 11 th centuries AD in Europe. They began colonizing Iceland shortly after the eruption. The researchers noted that Iceland has had 205 eruptions, amongst 30 active volcanoes since the settlers came. However, they were only to realize the extent of this much after settling.

To ward off any future threats and eruptions, Vikings entered the cave once the lava cooled and constructed the boat made of stone . One-hundred-twenty meters (394 feet) around the boat were scattered bones of sheep, goats, horses and pigs, which the researchers term the “dark zone.” They think these animals were burnt in and around the boat to ward off the threat of Surtr and his potentially flame-engulfing-apocalyptical final act that would destroy humanity.

The researchers stated, "The world would end when Surtr, an elemental being present at the world's creation, would kill the last of the gods in the battle of Ragnarök and then engulf the world in flames."

Another theory loosely postulates that the rituals and sacrifices were to appease Freyr, the god of peace and fertility, who fights Surtr in Norse mythology (though ultimately loses).

Although very distinct entities, there are obvious similarities between Surtr and Satan, and this fire sculpted cave is a suitable site to hold as the entrance to the underworld of both belief systems, be it Hel or Hell. There is also evidence that even after Iceland converted to Christianity, Ragnarok was assimilated into the Christian fold as Judgment Day – the cave being the place where Satan would emerge for this. This is backed by a set of scale weights found in the boat, which were placed in the shape of a cross, and would corroborate this hypothesis.

Beads and other artifacts from the Middle East, including Turkey were also found in the cave but researchers have yet to understand their significance and how they traveled so far. (Kathy / Adobe Stock)

Beads and other artifacts from the Middle East, including Turkey were also found in the cave but researchers have yet to understand their significance and how they traveled so far. ( Kathy / Adobe Stock)

Unanswered Questions

According to Live Science , the artifacts from the Middle East, and even Turkey have left the researchers confused." Finding it inside this cave was a great shock," according to the leader of the research team, Kevin Smith, the deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University.

Sixty-three beads were discovered near the structure of the cave. Three of them have been directly traced to Iraq. Also, the remains of orpiment minerals have been traced to eastern Turkey. Perhaps it was used to decorate the cave, but there isn’t enough evidence to support this.

Top image: Evidence of Viking rituals and battles against evil have been discovered in Iceland’s Surtshellir lava cave along with a stone boat and unusual artifacts like beads from the Middle East.                        Source: danielegay / Adobe Stock

By Rudra Bhushan

References

Gorbachev, M. 2021. Scientists discover boat in cave that Vikings believed could avert the end of the world. Available at: https://sputniknews.com/science/202104261082730309-scientists-discover-boat-in-cave-that-vikings-believed-could-avert-end-of-the-world/.

Jarus, O. 2021. Vikings carved a massive boat into this volcanic cave to ward off this apocalypse. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/viking-boat-structure-ragnarok.html.

P. Smith, K., Ólafsson, G., Pálsdótti, A.H. 2021. Ritual responses to catastrophic volcanism in Viking Age Iceland: Reconsidering Surtshellir Cave through Bayesian analyses of AMS dates, tephrochronology, and texts . Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105316.

Comments

I agree absolutely. Vikings have their signs carved into a balustrade in Hagia Sophia.  In what the Greek patriarch Photius called “a thunderbolt from heaven,” the Rus plundered the suburbs of Constantinople and launched coastal raids around the Sea of Marmara in which they burned houses, churches and monasteries and slaughtered the patriarch’s servants. However, they never attempted to breach the city walls before suddenly departing in August. The Byzantines credited divine intervention, but the Rus likely departed to ensure they could arrive back home before winter set in. All this before 830 AD. The remains in this cave to me appear to be an ordinary feast in the shelter of a cave. They were not Satan worshippers. They were independant their boats were constructed in a manner where they if needed could pack them overland and skid them to the next river. They traded all the way into the middle east. Ancestry shows their Origin and ours as well. Through the Kings of Troy then into Scandanavia was one line. 

Sir Clerke

Crasslee's picture

As others have noted. The Norse of this time had nothing to do with Satanism, and only started to convert to Christianity at a later date. And as for being confused by objects from Iran or modern day Turkey. The Vikings were amazing traders, and travelled and traded with the early medieval world extensively.
Honestly, this article would have been much better if it had concentrated on the actual archaeology, rather than trying to turn it into some weird flight of fancy from the reporters imagination.

Crasslee

That is correct. Vikings were way ahead of the rest in regards to sailing and weaponry. When they arrived in Scandinavia they with their superior weaponry appeared to the natives as gods. This article is slander and offensive to the Viking. These were my ancestors. Their descendants such as William the Conqueror created modern society. They were part of an unbroken line of Kings back to King David. The Lion in the crests and Shields represents that line. The media has brought forth an unfounded attack on the great western people. The line of Kings broken and an illigitimate Queen now sitting on the throne. Victoria was the first break in the line. But the line is still here. All this proven through ancestry, DNA and written history. So a lie is held up by the liars and the truth suppressed. The hero made out to be the villian. The villian a puppet master.

Sir Clerke

As the lead author of the peer-reviewed paper on which this article is based and the lead researcher on the work in Surtshellir, I find the use of the term “Satanic” in the headline and the body of this story to be a sensationalistic mischaracterization of our work that is inappropriate, misleading, and needs to be changed immediately. Viking Age religion had nothing to do with Satan or modern “Satanist” religious practices and the use of this terminology is totally inaccurate and uncalled for. While it is true that one 19th century American traveler recounted a 19th century Icelandic belief that Surtshellir was seen, then, by some as the place where Satan would emerge that does not imply that the rituals done 1000 years earlier were “Satanic”. And, as a previous commenter noted, there is no inherent relationship between the Christian vision of Hell and the Norse goddess Hel...but more to the point, there is nothing about this site that links it with either of those. Finally, I have to object to this article’s characterization that the presence of objects from areas that are now in Turkey and Iraq has “left the researchers confused.” Finding orpiment inside this cave shocked us because it has only been found in 2-3 other Viking Age sites, associated with royalty, and never before in Iceland. However, nothing about that is “confusing” – rather, it opened new and unanticipated insights into the extent of Viking Age Icelanders’ connections with well-documented Viking Age trade networks that extended from the Caspian Sea to Newfoundland and Greenland.

Kevin Smith

Use of the term ‘satanic’ through this article and especially the title is inaccurate and misleading. It has nothing to do with the Norse and their mythology.  It should be removed from the title and the first picture caption.

Pages

Next article