A family in southern Norway stumbled upon a significant archaeological find while excavating their backyard for a house extension. Oddbjørn Holum Heiland uncovered an oblong stone that turned out to be a grave marker dating back 1,100 years, as per a report by BBC News.
Excavating further, they discovered a rusty but intact 70cm sword with a distinctive hilt, leading archaeologists to date the burial to the late 800s or early 900s, during the Viking Age.
The style of the hilt provided crucial evidence for dating the find, as sword handle shapes evolved over time.
Apart from the sword, the grave contained other valuable artifacts, including a long horseback lance, gilded glass beads, a belt buckle with gold accents, and a bronze brooch. The presence of these weapons and luxury items suggests that the original owner was a relatively wealthy Viking warrior.
Archaeologist Jo-Simon Frøshaug Stokke, who examined the site, mentioned, “These weapons alone make this a rich grave, but then you have the jewelry as well. So this is a person who clearly had some resources.”
The site’s location near a lake, approximately 125 miles southwest of Oslo, hints at the possibility of a connection to nearby farms of the time. In Viking culture, visible graves near farmlands often served as a way for descendants to lay claim to the surrounding land, signifying a family’s long-standing ties to the area.
While no human or animal remains have been found yet, archaeologists are cautiously optimistic about any potential discoveries when they resume excavations.
The practice of cremation was common during the Viking Age, leaving only fragmented charred bones in graves, if any. Nevertheless, the intact state of the burial goods is extraordinary, as such finds are relatively rare and highly valuable for historical research.
Oddbjørn Holum Heiland’s cautious approach and prompt notification of local authorities ensured that experts could properly study and preserve the site.
The discovery sheds new light on the area’s historical significance, as Setesdal is known to contain other graves with similar artifacts, though typically not as complete and rich as this recent find.
The absence of a mound or visible marker at the site suggests that the grave was possibly intended for private or family use, rather than being prominently displayed for public recognition.
Archaeologists speculate that the site’s alignment with the east-west axis, possibly corresponding to sunrise and sunset, may have held personal significance to the family or individual buried there.
As further excavations are planned to continue, researchers hope to uncover more insights into the identity and history of the Viking warrior buried in this fascinating discovery.