Archaeologists found two Viking burial ships close to a vicarage in the village of Gamla Uppsala, Sweden. This “sensational” discovery was accidentally unearthed when workers were at the site getting ready to build an extension by the church. The discovery of the burial ships is quite rare as only ten others have been previously found in the country.
The full-sized boats were used as burial ships for important people with high social standards and were occasionally buried with gifts and several other items. One of the two burial ships was still intact and in the stern of the boat was a man who was buried with his dog and horse. A sword, shield, spear, ornate comb, and iron fittings (most likely for horse equipment) were uncovered as well.
The second boat, which was more than likely damaged when the basement of the vicarage was built, appears to be the larger of the two ships as it measures approximately 23 feet long. Additionally, boat rivets of iron and wood from planks were discovered.
Burial ships were mostly used during the Viking Age (800 to 1050 AD) even though the more common practice was to have the deceased cremated. The ships were used for people who had a lot of respect and of high status. Anton Seiler, who is an archaeologist with Arkeologerna, said, “It is a small group of people who were buried in this way. You can suspect that they were distinguished people in the society of the time since burial ships in general are very rare.” He added, “This is a unique excavation, the last burial ship was examined 50 years ago.”
Some of what they uncovered will be displayed at Gamla Uppsala Museum and Stockholm’s Swedish History Museum. You can see pictures here of what the archaeologists uncovered in Sweden.
In March of this year, another Viking burial ship was discovered approximately 100 km south of Oslo, Norway. Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research used advanced ground-penetrating radar to find the 66-foot-long ship. They also noticed a round-shaped depression around the vessel which could indicate that a mound was once there before being removed.