Found Cannabis in Viking Ship Grave

Found Cannabis in Viking Ship Grave skeletonOne of the women in the Oseberg ship was found with a little leather pouch full of cannabis. Scientists ask themselves: How would she use them?

The Oseberg mound  dating back to 834 AD is the richest Viking burial site ever found. It was excavated in 1904 and contained a Viking ship with two women, an elderly aged between 70 and 80 and a younger about 50 years old. They had brought with them four horse sleighs, a richly decorated chariot, seven beds and several woven tapestries.

There were also found animal bones from fourteen or fifteen horses, a cat, a Eurasian woodcock, a red-breasted merganser, a bull, a cow and four dogs.

The objects were remarkably well preserved considering how long they have been buried.

Found Red Apples and Bread

– It is so well preserved because of the dense peat and clay it was buried in. This should not be possible, says Ellen Marie Næss, associate Professor at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo to NRK.

She says that during the excavation they also found a bucket of apples which were still red, including recognizable blueberries and cress.

– In addition, they found one raised bread dough that was ready to be cooked immediately when the two women reached afterlife, Næss continues.

Powerful Women

The most fascinating is still the two female skeletons. Who were they?

– They must have been incredibly influential in their community being given such a grave. Ordinary people were not buried in an awesome ship with lots of animals and beautiful things. So these are women who may have been political and religious leaders, who have had much power and an important position.

It is however uncertain which of the two women who had the most power.

Probably Died of Cancer

Found Cannabis in Viking Ship GraveOne woman looks like she was a little plumper than the other.

– Yes, she has been eating well and she was also very old. She became nearly 80 years and that is a high age for a Viking woman. The youngest was a little over 50 years old, so there are two pretty adult ladies, Næss explains.

Photo from the excavation of the Oseberg ship in 1904

Their skeletons reveal that they have lived for a while and that the oldest have had various health problems – most likely cancer that caused her death.

Cannabis in a Leather Pouch

The older woman was carrying a leather bag that has received much attention because of its content. Næss has several explanations:

– She had lots of pain due to illness and the cannabis found in her pouch must have eased her pains. At the same time, if she was a religious leader (Editor’s note: Old Norse “völva”) she needed to get in touch with the gods and cannabis would help her get good contact. That’s what I think.

It is a fact that the Vikings were well aware of which plants that could provide intoxication.

– They had great knowledge of what the plants could be used for. Some would make them intoxicated while others would cure diseases and alleviating pain.

There is also a final explanation of the cannabis found in the Oseberg ship.

– In the Viking Age people used cannabis to make clothes and rope, so it may have been a symbol of an important plant, says Næss.

More Viking Treasures Buried

Næss is absolutely convinced that there are several Viking ship burial mounds throughout Norway.

– The Oseberg ship is so special that I dare not to hope that we will ever find anything like that again, but I have no doubt that there are several Viking ships buried. The question is whether it is right to dig them out. One thing is the financial aspect, but we also have to think in the longer term: We want to save some of them for our children’s children, Næss concludes.


Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source: NRK

Photos: Museum of Cultural History 


Categories: Culture, History, Vikings

12 replies

  1. The medicinal use of cannabis goes back thousands of years to China. It likely was a first crop for it’s nutritionally complete seeds and use as woven mats. Hempology101.

  2. Fascinating stuff. I also didn’t know the two women were as old as that. That really is very long-lived for that time, isn’t it? Especially for women who so often died in childbirth.

  3. I wonder if it is possible to find out from the remains if the women had given birth or not? Could be that as possible religious leaders they were celibate or unmarried? Interesting thoughts.

    • Article forgot to mention that one was a queen and the older was possibly her nanny that was long lived.

      She went with her queen to the afterlife.

  4. cannabis has been used since the caveman days. its the second oldest cultivated plant besides wheat

  5. cannabis IS an Herb and a Flower….it is NOT a ‘drug’!….even though there are ‘recreational’ smokers….the medicinal properties have helped ‘MAN’ along since ‘man’s’ humble BEGINNINGS!

  6. I see, so she smoked cannabis, & had apples with her for her munchies!


  1. Medical Cannabis Use in Ancient Cultures - Lift Resource Centre
  2. Vähän tietää ihminen – ”Osebergin Buddhan” arvoitus - Viisas Elämä
  3. Norwegian Maritime Authority Requires Engine Aboard Viking Ship – ThorNews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: