Seemingly Empty Burial Mound in Norway Likely Hides an Early Viking Age Ship

A Hidden Ship

You never know what’s hiding under the surface of the Earth. A burial mound in southwest Norway, dating back to the Viking age, was long thought to be empty. But a recent ground-penetrating radar analysis revealed that the ground actually holds an incredible artifact beneath it – a 1200-year-old Viking ship!

The Location

This starling discovery took place early this year during an excavation of burial mounds on the coast of Karmøy Island, near the village of Avaldsnes in southwestern Norway. Not so surprisingly, this region is believed to be the origin of Viking culture. The newly-found radar signal outline indicates the action of a ship burial during the late 8th century A.D., the very dawn of the Viking age, which spanned from 793 A.D. to 1066 A.D. If confirmed, it would be the third ship burial from the early Viking age found in the area. Håkon Reiersen, an archaeologist at the University of Stavanger in Norway and the leader of the excavating team informed the media that the location of the burials is a very strategic point, as the maritime traffic along the Norwegian coast was controlled from there.

The Burial Mounds

The Burial Mounds

The recent ship-shaped radar signals were detected at the Salhushaugen mound. Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig first excavated this mound back in 1906. At that time, Shetelig and his team had already discovered an early Viking age ship from 795 A.D. at the nearby Grønhaug burial mound. Another nearby Viking ship burial was discovered by other archeologists in 1886, at the earlier-time Storhaug mound from 779 A.D. Reiersen suspects that Shetelig’s team stopped digging the Salhushaugen mound after reaching a rock layer near the bottom of it. Though they are uncertain about the condition in which the ship is preserved, the excavating team from the University of Stavanger hopes to continue excavations of the mound to dig down to the Salhushaugen ship.