The researchers speculate that the ancient ship may have been the lavish burial place of a king, queen or noble warrior.
19 meters long and 5 meters wide, was discovered in the Gjellestad area southeast of Oslo, dating from 750 to 850, said archaeologist Knut Paasche of the Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage. "We still don't know if this is a rowboat or a sailboat. Other types of boats like the Gokstad and the Tune combine both oars and sails," said Paasche. However, the keel looks different from other Viking boats.
The boat is buried in a mound that was razed by Skull 3D farmers' plows after decades, inside a large complex of at least 20 graves, not far from Jell Mound, the second largest mound in Norway, dating from around 400-500. According to excavation team leader Christian Rodsrud, this gap clearly shows that the Vikings wanted a connection with the past.
Excavation of Jell's grave mound and the surrounding area began in 2017, after the landowner asked to dig a trench around it. Archaeologists used ground-penetrating cameras to identify the area to be excavated in 2019. In addition to the boat tomb, the team also found foundation traces of at least four houses and many circular tombs.
The mound containing
the boat was looted, possibly by enemies of the aristocratic family buried there, according to research published in the journal Antiquity in November 2020. Researchers have not found any human skeletons next to the boat, but only horse or cow bones. Grave robbers also took away any artefacts.
According to Paasche, the boat grave is "the supreme symbol of day of the dead status and wealth in Scandinavia". The person buried in the boat can be a king, queen or noble warrior. The team hopes to finish excavating the boat this month. The layout of the screws and the remains of the keel may allow them to build replicas of the ship in the future.