Melting glaciers in Lendbreen, Norway, have revealed an ancient mountain pass as well as artifacts that belonged to the Vikings. Some of the artifacts include knives, walking sticks, iron horseshoes and nails, broken sleds, leather shoes, and wool mittens.
The site was first uncovered in 2011 and researchers have been studying the area ever since. In their study (which can be read here), researchers detailed their discovery by explaining that the mountain pass was used from the Roman Iron Age in 300 to 1500 AD with the most activity taking place in 1000 AD during the Viking Age. The mountain pass was used for trade, long-distance travels, and local traffic.
Lars Pilø, who is an archaeologist at the Innlandet County Council Department of Cultural Heritage in Lillehammer, Norway, and one of the authors of the study, said, “It dawned on us that this was a mountain pass,” that went from a nearby river valley to mountain pastures high up. “It’s the first time we have a site like this in northern Europe.”
Eight of the artifacts that were found (five arrows, two reindeer antlers, and a “scaring stick”) were radiocarbon dated. These objects indicate that those travelling along the pass were also hunting. A Bronze Age ski that had been broken into four pieces had been uncovered as well. Other artifacts have not yet been identified as researchers have no other similar items to compare them to.
The researchers discovered a shelter built from stones in addition to other stone structures that may have been used as memorials or specific landmarks. These discoveries suggest that a large number of people were travelling through the mountain pass at that time.
Based on the horseshoes and skulls found at the site, horses were probably used as a form of transportation by the farmers who made butter and other dairy products. Additionally, it is believed that the livestock would have lived on higher ground during the summers and on lower ground during the winters. Pictures of the artifacts as well as a video can be seen here.
According to the study, the majority of the artifacts were probably lost by those travelling through the mountain pass. Some items, however, are more difficult to explain like a 1,700-year-old wool tunic as well as other forms of clothing. “It is possible that these items of clothing were discarded in dire circumstances, such as the irrational behaviour associated with hypothermia,” the researchers stated.
The melting glaciers in Norway have revealed several remote sites that researchers were previously unable to access. In fact, global warming has revealed a large amount of ancient artifacts, specifically in Central Norway where more than 3,000 items have been discovered in Oppland County.