Rare Finds in Early Viking Age Stone Burial Mound

Amber Bead Early Viking Age

This beautiful amber bead probably origins from the Baltic States (Photo: Anette Broteng Christiansen / ThorNews)

On May 19, in connection with preparations for construction of two homes on the Ryggahøgda hill in Overhalla, Mid-Norway, archaeologists from the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim were going to examine something that was thought to be a clearance cairn from the Iron Age. They were in for a big surprise when they removed the stones and found two graves.

Now, four weeks later, the following objects have been brought into daylight: A bronze ring, glass beads of different colors, a beautiful amber pearl – probably imported from the Baltic region – knife, sickle and two whetstones. It was also found a quantity of nails and iron fittings, indicating that it has been buried a wooden casket because the burned remains of wood still are stuck on several of the nails.

People followed Norse religion and it was customary to bury the dead with objects they could use in the afterlife.

Ordinary Women

It is found many burned bones from one of the graves. The findings suggest that this is a woman’s grave.

Based on the findings the stone burial mound is dated to 700-800 AD, in other words the late Iron Age and early Viking Age. In this period it was common to burn their dead before they were buried.

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Overhalla Valley Norway

View of the rich agricultural area of Ryggahøgda hill, Overhalla. (Photo: Anette Broteng Chrstansen / ThorNews)

It was also found a stone with three bowl-shaped depressions that may have been used for rituals related to the burials.

Most people in the late Iron Age were not buried in huge ship burial mounds – it was reserved the most powerful and wealthy – but in relatively simple graves like this one that probably contained ordinary women.

Rarely Opened

– There are very many prehistoric sites in this part of Mid-Norway, which is due to the fact that this has always been a rich agricultural area, says Project Manager and archaeologist Anne Haug from the NTNU University Museum to ThorNews.

In addition, it is close to the Namsen River that goes far inland and to the Namsen Fjord that were the most important transportation routes.

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Bronze Ring Early Viking Age

What is the story behind this bronze ring? (Photo: Anette Broteng Christiansen / ThorNews)

The burial mound measured 8 meters (26 feet) in diameter and is beautifully situated on a small ridge overlooking the fertile valley. Project Manager Haug tells that it is very rare that researchers have the opportunity to open this type of grave.

There are strict restrictions when it comes to opening of burial mounds and it would have been protected if archaeologists had assumed that it contained an Iron Age grave. At the same time researchers are excited about the rare finds which will be very useful when it comes to learning more about ordinary people in the early Viking Age.



Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Categories: Culture, History, Vikings

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