1,000-Year-Old Viking Ship Discovered Buried on Dry Land

Doug Williams
What else is yet to be found
What else is yet to be found

According to a recent report, one of the recent discoveries made using the latest tech is a Viking ship, which is under an old burial ground near a church on the island of Edoeya in Norway.

Finding relics from past has often been a bit hit or miss, over the centuries, but as modern technology progresses, it becomes easier to the hidden remnants of ancient times.

In particular, ground-penetrating radar has the ability to let scientists see what is still underground.  It’s a nifty trick, and can discover some amazing things.

Radar discovered the outline of the ship, which is thought to be about 1,000 years old.  It’s no longer completely intact, which is not surprising, given that it’s a wooden ship and has been under the earth for a millennium.

However, experts estimate it would have been about 56 feet long, with a 43-foot-long keel.  Currently, parts of the fore and aft sterns have been destroyed.  There are currently no plans to excavate the viking ship.

Viking ship found on a farm. Photo by Manuel Gabler / NIKU
Viking ship found on a farm. Photo by Manuel Gabler / NIKU

The ship was first discovered in September 2019, in an area that appears to have previously been a burial mound that had a diameter of about 18 feet

Despite the fact that there aren’t any current plans to dig it up, it’s still an ‘exciting and unusual find,’ according to Knut Paache, the head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU.

The find isn’t unique, but since only about three other, similar ships have ever been found buried in Norway, it certainly is rare.  Paache says that not only is it historically significant, it will also add to their knowledge base, since the ship can be investigated using modern technologies.

It’s believed that the parts of the ship that currently visible via geo-radar are the keel and the first two strakes (planks) on each side of it.  The length of the keel, in combination with geo-radar data gained from earlier discoveries, have allowed scientists to make the estimate of the ship’s size.

While Paache says that it’s too early to get any sort of definitive information about the ship’s age, it probably dates from the Merovingian era, which would make it more than 1,000 years old.

The first indications that there were interesting things under the ground in Edoeya were actually found a year earlier, in September 2018.  At the time, there were indications that the site may have been home to a settlement or settlements.

It was interesting enough that researchers returned this last September, to expand their search.  That expansion is what led to the discovery of the ship.

Such finds are few and far between, but there have been other, similar ship burials that have caused quite a stir.  National Geographic described the Osberg ship as one of the most remarkable.

It was originally discovered in 1903, and represents the largest Viking ship burial ever found in Norway.  That ship was a whopping 65 feet long, and, like this newest discovery, was buried more than 1,000 years ago.

Its purpose was to act as the final resting place for a powerful Norwegian ruler of the time.

This ship was found pretty close the modern Norwegian capital, Oslo, and had probably been dragged inland from the fjord in the city.  The ship was next to a 30-foot-tall burial mound that is something of a local landmark.

Paache noted that whomever the ship was for, they weren’t laid to rest in isolation.  The same site also contained evidence of at least eight other burial mounds of substantial size, in some cases, nearly 90 feet across.

The site also showed evidence of a couple of buried longhouses and a number of smaller structures.  This is another site where geo-radar has been used for preliminary examination, and Paache is hoping that permission will be granted to further examination.

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While it’s unlikely that either site will yield any artifacts that we might think of as treasure, they could still hold a wealth of information.


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival