Viking Burial in Kaupang: Mysteries Never Solved

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Burial in Kaupang: Mysteries Never Solved

As we all might know the Vikings paid tons of attention to their rituals, especially the funeral. This blog post is to discuss the Viking burial found in Kaupang yet the mysteries about this burial seem to remain forever. 

Kaupang once was one of the most important Viking trading town. But as a rule, Kaupang quickly lost its strategical importance and the site was abandoned. However, until now, Kaupand becomes one of the most awesome Viking archaeological sites with tons of artifacts and mysteries as well. 

The excavators found out a ship burial with four individuals inside in Kaupang. And more interestingly, the ship was placed above a burial of a man. 

The man was buried on his left side dressed in a cloak. His chest was placed with a large stone and he wore cloth with fine quality. Two knives, fire steel, two flints, a whetstone, etc. were found in the burial. 

Several years later in the Viking Age, a ship with 8.5 meters in length was put exactly on the top of the man. Inside the boats were the remains of four people living in the Viking Age: a man, two women, and an infant. 

Viking ship burial in Kaupang

A sketch of the boat burial with four people inside

The first and also the younger woman, around 45-50, rest on blankets with her right hand on her chest. legs crossed and feet pointing into the prow of the boat. Her head was placed on a stone and she wore expensive clothes with silver jewelry. 

The baby was wrapped inside her dress and her left hand on the baby's head. 

Lying head to head with the woman was a man whose age was unknown. His legs crossed and his whole body somehow twisted. Weapons including a throwing spear, a sword, axes, and knives were put around him. About four Viking shields were found inside the boat burial. 

A horse probably beheaded was placed in the middle of the boat. 

What's more interesting was the second woman who was probably older than the aforementioned man and woman. She was buried sitting up. She wore a high-quality dress. Behind her was the fourth shield (the other three were around the man). On her lap was a bucket with a head of a dog inside. The body of the dog was next to her feet. To her left was an iron staff which the scholars believed belonged to the community of sorceresses in the Viking Age. 

Viking staff found in Kaupang

The staffs found inside boat burial

The whole burial was covered with earth and stone constructions. Patches of cremated bone and wood were also found around the burial. This suggested some kinds of rituals had been carried out; yet, we know nothing about it. 

So the question remains unsolved. What were these people doing on the banks of a Norwegian fjord in the 10th century? It seems unusual to see a burial of four people in a boat lying just above another burial grave. Were they all related or not? Who was the woman sitting on the stern, was she a volva in the Viking Age? Was anyone of them the slaves or normal people who died to accompany the others in the afterlife? How did they die, illnesses or brutality? What was the connection between them all and the man just below them? 

Older Post Newer Post

Recent Articles


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published