Viking Boat Burial In Scotland and Unsolved Mystery

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Boat Burial In Scotland and Unsolved Mystery

Viking ship is among the most iconic Viking archaeological discoveries. Best preserved ships like Gokstad or Oseberg ship in Norway capture so much attention and the audience, especially the Viking enthusiasts are fascinated by the scholar assumption about these discoveries. In 2011, the archaeologists unearthed a ship burial site in UK Mainland. Though the ship is not in good condition and not as specular as those found previously, it depicts a rich Viking grave adding Viking archaeological trace in Swordle Bay, Scotland

The burial site could date back to early 10th century. It is rich in the Viking ancient artifacts. The site is also important for it provides the knowledge of the relationship between Ireland, Scotland, and Vikings in the 10th century. The unsolved mystery around the burial is also what interest the mass media and the scholars. 

Map of the Viking burial site in Scotland

In the Viking Age, ship burial was rare because not everyone could afford the ship for their death. Ship burial was for the prominent figures only. 

The site excavated in UK Mainland was quite small measuring 17 feet in length and 5 feet in width. The archaeologists found a spearhead and a shield boss among the stones. These weaponry parts might be in the process of closing the grave. 

Sword and textile found inside the burial site in mainland UK

Sword and textile found inside the grave

Then a clinker-built boat containing many goods appeared. The hoard included an axe, a hammer and tongs, a drinking horn, pin, a sickle, and whetstone. These items seemed to be the personal items of the grave's owner. 

The boat, according to the archaeologists, could have been used in the water. Then the Vikings towed it into the shore to make the coffin for the noble deceased. The deceased had his/her final resting place inside the boat where was stuffed with items and goods. 

Teeth found inside the grave also offered a source of information for the discovery. The deceased might have lived next to the coast or spent much time voyaging. The figure could have consumed marine food from 3 years old. While protein from marine food was little found in humans in Britain, it was common in Viking-era Norway. 

Viking teeth found

Viking teeth found inside the grave in Scotland

The weapons from the grave suggested that the deceased could be a warrior or an heir of a great warrior. However, gender has been a mystery. In the past, the archaeologists made a mistake of misgendering one figure in the BJ581 in Birka. So the evidence they have now cannot help conclude whether the deceased is male or female. 

Viking weapons from Viking ship burial in Scotland

The weapons found inside the grave including a broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and the hammer and tongs (clockwise from top left)

After all, this burial in UK Mainland suggests the connection between Scotland and the Vikings in the Viking Age.

Older Post Newer Post

Recent Articles


  • There is no mystery. Norway ruled the Western Isles, Hebrides and much of the North Western Seaboard of Scotland until the 13th Century. This was viking territory.

    Boris Pischflaup on

  • Thanks for posting this. Very Interesting stuff!

    Eric Dee on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published