Oseberghaugen ved Slagen (The Oseberg Burial Mound)

The ship was found in a burial mound in Oseberg near the Oslo Fjord in Norway in 1903. The mound (Norwegian: Oseberghaugen ved Slagen from the Old Norse word haugr meaning kurgan mound or barrow) contained numerous grave goods and two female human skeletons. The ship’s interment into its burial mound dates from 834 AD, but parts of the ship date from around 800, and the ship itself is thought to be older.  It was excavated by Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig and Swedish archaeologist Gabriel Gustafson in 1904-1905. This ship is widely celebrated and has been called one of the finest finds to have survived the Viking Age.The ship and some of its contents are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum, in Bygdøy.

Oseberg_Excavation_ship_1

Made of oak, this ship is believed to have been built around 800. It would have been the type of Norwegian vessel that would have raided Lindisfarne. The ship is approximately 70 feet long, 16 feet wide and only 5 feet deep. This allowed it not only to travel in the sea but also up rivers. It could land right on the beach. This maneuverability and the speed of the ship is what took Europe by surprise.

Oseberg_ship_-_IMG_9153

“The skeletons of two women were found in the grave with the ship. One, probably aged 60–70, suffered badly from arthritis and other maladies. The second was initially believed to be aged 25–30, but analysis of tooth-root translucency suggests she was older (aged 50–55). It is not clear which one was the more important in life or whether one was sacrificed to accompany the other in death. The younger woman had a broken collarbone, initially thought to be evidence that she was a human sacrifice, but closer examination showed that the bone had been healing for several weeks. The opulence of the burial rite and the grave-goods suggests that this was a burial of very high status. One woman wore a very fine red wool dress with a lozenge twill pattern (a luxury commodity) and a fine white linen veil in a gauze weave, while the other wore a plainer blue wool dress with a wool veil, possibly showing some stratification in their social status. Neither woman wore anything entirely made of silk, although small silk strips were appliqued onto a tunic worn under the red dress.

Dendrochronological analysis of timbers in the grave chamber dates the burial to the autumn of 834.Although the high-ranking woman’s identity is unknown, it has been suggested that she is Queen Åsa of the Yngling clan, mother of Halfdan the Black and grandmother of Harald Fairhair. Recent tests of the women’s remains suggest that they lived in Agder in Norway, as had Queen Åsa. This theory has been challenged, however, and some think that she may have been a völva. There were also the skeletal remains of 14 horses, an ox, and three dogs found on the ship.

 

The grave had been disturbed in antiquity, and precious metals were absent. Nevertheless, a great number of everyday items and artifacts were found during the 1904-1905 excavations. These included four elaborately decorated sleighs, a richly carved four-wheel wooden cart, bed-posts, and wooden chests, as well as the so-called “Buddha bucket” (Buddha-bøtte), a brass and cloisonné enamel ornament of a bucket (pail) handle in the shape of a figure sitting with crossed legs. More mundane items such as agricultural and household tools were also found. A series of textiles included woolen garments, imported silks, and narrow tapestries. The Oseberg burial is one of the few sources of Viking age textiles, and the wooden cart is the only complete Viking age cart found so far. A bedpost shows one of the few period examples of the use of what has been dubbed the valknut symbol.” – Wikipedia

Oseberg sleigh

 

The Oseberg Sleigh

Oseberg_cart

The Oseberg Cart

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