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Norwegian Researchers Find Viking Boat Burial Site

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Georadar scan overlay on satellite image of the search site. The burial mound is outlined in red, the buried vessel in green. (NIKU)

By The Maritime Executive 11-25-2019 05:02:00

Using new georadar technology, archaeologists with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) have discovered a new ship burial site that likely dates back to either the Viking or Merovingian eras.

As with a previous at Gjellestad, Norway in 2018, the remains of the ship are located just below the surface within what was once a burial mound. In the radar imaging, the mound appears as a circle about 60 feet wide. In the middle of the mound, archaeologists detected a 43-foot-long-keel, and hints of the first two strakes of hull planking are visible on each side.

The archaeological search used large-scale, high-resolution georadar measurements with technology developed by LBI ArchPro, NIKU and Guideline Geo. The find occurred almost by chance: the team was conducting a survey in Smøla, a small coastal island outside Trondheim, and they found the ship in a field outside of the planned study area. 

"Again, it’s the technology that helps us find yet another ship. As the technology is making leaps forward, we are learning more and more about our past," said Dr. Knut Paasche, the head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU. "We only know of three well-preserved Viking ship burials in Norway, and these were excavated a long time ago. This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance."

According to Dr. Paasche, the length of the keel indicates that the ship may have been up to 55 feet long. While more examination will be required to determine its exact age, Dr. Paasche believes that based on current evidence it must be from either the Merovingian or Viking Period - making it more than 1,000 years old. 

This is probably not the last major find of its type in Norway, according to Paasche. His team has other promising sites to examine and they expect more discoveries in the years to come.