Norway will Excavate a Buried Viking Ship for the First Time in 100 Years

Norway will Excavate a Buried Viking Ship for the First Time in 100 Years
Old Viking boat replica in a Norwegian landscape near Flam, Norway., Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Norwegian archaeologists have decided to carry out an excavation project of a 1,000-year-old Viking ship to save it from fungus

OT Staff
May 20 , 2020
02 Min Read

For the first time in a century, Norwegian archaeologists will excavate a buried Gjellestad Viking ship. The ship is located less than two feet below the surface and is being destroyed by the fungus forcing the archaeologists to act quickly.

As per the government statement, Norway will provide 15.6 m Norwegian kroner ($1.5 million) for the project. Archaeologists want to start the project in June but have been waiting for parliament to formally approve the revised budget. 

The archaeologists from The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) discovered the buried ship in 2018 with the help of ground-penetrating radar. The 65-foot long Gjellestad Viking ship was buried just 20 inches below the surface in Norway’s Østfold County. A part of the lower keel was pulled up last year for analysis and the results were not encouraging. “The lower part was very mushy in the surface and microscopic analyses demonstrated very profound evidence of active fungi, demonstrating that it was under active decay,” informed Jan Bill, curator of the Viking Ship Collection at the Museum of Cultural History in an interview to Gizmodo. “It was thus clear that with the current conditions—situated above the groundwater level in a sandy and silty environment—wooden remains would not survive for long.”

The ship has spent more than 1,000 years hidden underground. Earlier, three well preserved Viking ships—Tune, Gokstad, and Oseberg—were discovered in the Scandinavian country and were excavated in 1868, 1880 and 1904, respectively. Now, after 100 years, archaeologists will have the opportunity to carry out a full-fledged excavation as per modern standards.

Oseberg Ship displayed in Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.

The Gjellestad ship most probably served as a grand resting place for Viking royalty. The discovery of several longhouses and burial mounds nearby is making the researchers theorise that the burial site was a part of a Viking-era cemetery.

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