Searching for Traces of the Battle of Hafrsfjord – 872 AD

The Viking Naval Battle of Hafrsfjord 872 AD

The naval battle in Hafrsfjord in about 872 AD is one of the largest in the history of Norway (Photo: Sola Historielag)

Was there ever a great naval battle in Hafrsfjord about year 872 AD? Traditionally, the result of the supposed battle has been seen as the start of the Norwegian nation where everyone gathered under the same monarch; Viking King Harald Fairhair. Nevertheless, there has never been done any archaeological surveys that can confirm or deny whether Hafrsfjord has been the scene of this historical event. Not until now.

The Battle of Hafrsfjord is described in the Saga of Harald Fairhair in Snorri’s Heimskringla. Harald defeated several petty kings and the battle is considered decisive in the unification of Western Norway. Now, finally the seabed in Hafrsfjord is scientifically examined to find traces.

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Research Viking Naval Battle of Hafrsfjord 872 AD

Marine biologists are investigating the seabed in Hafrsfjord. (Photo: Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation)

Project Hafrsfjord 872, under the leadership of the Museum Stavanger (MUST), will hopefully give us some answers. Right now, marine biologists from the Norwegian Mapping Authority are investigating the seabed throughout Hafrsfjord with modern sonar technology that can see through the seafloor mud.

The Viking Naval Battle of Hafrsfjord 872 AD 3The map shows that Hafrsfjord was an ideal place for a naval battle (Google Maps – click to enlarge)

Researchers already have found interesting traces. The good news is that these are found at relatively shallow depths so that divers can explore the findings in more detail.

See also: Where are the Great Viking kings Buried?


Text by Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Sources; The Museum Stavanger, NRK, Sola Historielag




Categories: Culture, History, Vikings

4 replies

  1. “Harald defeated several petty kings and the battle is considered decisive in the unification of Western Norway, hence the whole of Norway.”

    I’m sorry but i didn’t really understand “hence the whole of Norway” part. Do you mean that Western Norway was the whole Norway or that he united the western parts with the east?
    Since its a “hot topic” in Norwegian history if he was from Viken or Sogn i couldn’t really understand the wording or your stance in the debate around the topic.

    • Hi Raymond! Thank you for reading ThorNews, and thank you for your remark!

      Sorry for the unclarity, What I meant was that the Battle of Hafrsfjord was decisive for the unification of the whole of Norway.

      Harald Fairhair’s father, Halfdan the Black, may have lived in Ringerike or Hadeland, and was probably King of Opplandene (Eastern Norway) – and the sources are unclear who was his wife.

      What is your theory where Harald came from?



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