BJ581: Archaeological Evidence of Viking Shieldmaiden

Posted by Ms Elly on

BJ581: Archaeological Evidence of Viking Shieldmaiden

In Viking sagas, women joined the troops and some of the Viking women even rivalled Viking male warriors. However, the scholars have been debating the historical existence of Viking female warrior. This blog post is about the BJ 581 the Viking burial mound belonging to a Viking female warrior who died thousands years ago. 

Birka used to be an economically and politically important town in the Viking Age. After inhabiting for a few decades, the Vikings started to abandon this place yet they left many traces and artifacts in the site which still live on. 

Among the graves inside Birka town, there was a grave named BJ581. The identity of the woman inside might forever remain a mystery. There would be nothing more to say about the burial mound if it were not for a set of weapons inside. 

BJ 581 Viking female burial mound belonging to a shieldmaiden

The famous BJ 581 in Birka

In BJ581, the archaeologists found out a woman was buried with a sword, an axe, a bow and arrows, and a gaming board. All of this were commonly buried with Viking men who were warriors.

For example, not everyone in the Viking Age could play Viking chess game because it reflected not only intelligence but also military skills. But the BJ581 woman was buried with a chess game set suggesting that this type of game once was a part of her life.

Set of weapons inside BJ581 really interested the archaeologists because it becomes archaeological evidence that the Viking women could wield axe helping prove the historical existence of Viking shieldmaiden (Viking female warrior). 


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