Archaeologists have discovered a Viking ship that likely contains the remains of royalty or another elite figure from between 500 and 1,000 years ago near the town of Kvinesdal in southwestern Norway.
The burial of the deceased’s boat dates back to a time when the Vikings were prosperous – raiding, expanding their territories and exploring new areas.
Archaeologists discovered the unique burial during a ground radar survey before a road was built nearby. This type of radar equipment sends radio waves deep underground, where they bounce off objects (like a boat’s burial) to help researchers create a map of these structures.
Related: Photos: Man, horse and dog found in Viking ship burial
Radar survey detected the impression of the boat revealing it to be between 26 and 30 feet (8 and 9 meters) long, Jani Causevic, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) who has conducted the investigation, Live Science told in an email. Since no excavations have been carried out, archaeologists know little about what the boat may contain; however, members of society’s elite were often buried in boat structures, Causevic said, noting that this boat burial could have contained one or more people.
It is possible that not much remains of the boat itself. “The soil in the area is not preferable for the preservation of organic material, and most likely only the nails and other metal objects remain,” Causevic said.
“The boat appears to have been dug into the ground before a mound was thrown over it,” Frans-Arne Hedlund Stylegar, an archaeologist working on the excavation, told Live Science in an email. “Boat graves represent a special burial custom that existed in the Viking Age in many coastal settlements, both within and outside the borders of Norway,” Stylegar said, noting that “some of the graves Richest from the Viking Age in this part of Scandinavia are ship burials.”
The radar survey also uncovered several burial mounds that may be older than the boat’s burial, Causevic said.
The boat burial “could have been built at the same time as the rest of the burial mounds, or at a later date. [Possibly] to show continued control over the area,” Causevic said.
Originally posted on Live Science.