The Viking Chieftain’s Longhouse at Borg

Viking Longhouse Borg Norway

The Viking longhouse at Borg is the largest ever found. (Photo by: Jörg Hempel / Wikimedia Commons)

The Viking chiefdom of Borg was located on the north side of Vestvågøy Island in Nordland County. In the 1980s, Nordic archaeologists excavated an 83 meters (272 feet) long house – the largest house known from the Viking Age. Today the house is reconstructed and part of the Lofotr Viking Museum.

The wooden structure had an extra outside wall of peat which was 1.5 meters (3.3 feet) wide at the bottom. The house has been functioning both as living quarters, byre and Great Hall. It was divided into five rooms where the Great Hall and the byre with room for 50 cows were the largest.

Down by the sea, there were several boathouses; the largest measured 26 meters (85 feet) long.

Borg stands out by the quality of the archaeological findings. In the Great Hall there were found “Gullgubber” (English: “little old men of gold”, art objects, amulets, or offerings fund in Scandinavia), imported ceramics and exclusive glass. The fact that Borg was so rich is probably due to the trading of goods from Northern Norway, as furs and walrus tusks.


In 1983, archaeologists uncovered the Chieftain House. The large Viking Era building is believed to have been established around the year 500 AD. Excavations revealed the largest house in the Viking world, both in Norway and in Europe.

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Viking Longhouse Great Hall Norway

The Great Hall (Photo: Lofotr Viking Museum)

The foundation of the Chieftain House at Borg measured 83 meters (272 feet) long and 9 meters (30 feet) high covering an area of about 700 square meters. The seat at Borg is estimated to have been abandoned around 950 AD.

The excavations showed that first came a 67-meter long building in the 500´s, which was rebuilt a couple of times, and by the beginning of the Viking Age measured 83 meters.

There are several foundation walls in the vicinity that indicates habitation before the chieftain´s hall was raised and after it was demolished. When the excavation began, some of the subsided turf walls were just visible in the terrain. The excavation uncovered the floor-plan. Traces were found of the outside walls, entrances, floors, hearths and the internal load-bearing posts.

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Viking Longhouse Living Quarters Norway

The Living Quarters (Photo by: Lofotr Viking Museum)

The 83-meter house had been divided into 5 main rooms, as shown in the reconstructed building today:

The living quarters with a central hearth.

The lobby with two entrances: One southern, probably the main entrance, and one northern.

The Great Hall, with a large central hearth. The High Seat was at the north-east corner, where gold-leaf amulets, drinking glasses and tankards were found.

The byre (and surely a stable), with two southern entrances.

After the excavation the foundation-walls were marked out, to show where the house stood. This is very visible for visitors today, and is located close to the reconstructed chieftain´s house.



Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Sources: Lofotr Viking Museum, Wikipedia

Categories: Culture, History, Vikings

1 reply

  1. Having watched the UK’s “Time Team” for many years, I’m surprised by the willingness to completely rebuild the Long Hall. But I readily acknowledge that there’s no reason why British archaeologists and Scandinavian archaeologists should look on this kind of thing in the same way ! 🙂

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