Viking Grave Goods: Gifts For the Deceased in Afterlife

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Grave Goods: Gifts For the Deceased in Afterlife 

If you are a Viking enthusiast, chances are that you have seen a scene of Viking funeral ritual. What we often catch sight of on the television is the luxurious funeral, stuffed with gold and values. However, not everyone could afford such type of funeral in the Viking Age. 

So what were the common Viking grave goods in the Viking Age? 

Like many other tribes of their time, the Vikings buried their deceased with goods. And the grave goods were commonly the personal items of the deceased. 

The most common artifacts dating back to the Viking Age found inside Viking grave are combs. The Vikings were famous for their excellent hygiene and the great number of comb artifact found can cement this point. The Vikings cared a lot about their appearance that they combed their hair everyday. 

Viking comb artifact

Viking artifact comb in Jorvik

Viking comb artifact on display in museum

Viking comb artifact in museum

Another common artifact found inside the Viking grave is remains of cloth. But not everyone in the Viking society could afford colourful and excellent quality cloth. If any grave has the remains of red and blue cloth, chances are that the one buried inside once was quite wealthy in the Viking Age. 

Arm ring is also often excavated from the Viking grave. In the Viking Age, nearly every Viking free man could have an arm ring. According to some scholars, the Vikings swore their loyalty for their chieftain up on their arm ring. The Vikings respected their oath as well as the arm ring. 

Viking arm rings revealed themselves from the dirt

Viking arm ring revealed itself from the dirt 

Viking arm ring Viking jewelry

Replica of Viking Arm Ring - Viking Falster Arm Ring 

Archaeologists claimed that they could conclude whether the Viking buried inside every grave had a high social rank or not based on the grave goods inside. 

The Vikings buried the deceased with the personal items of the deceased which helped the archaeologists to conclude the careers of the deceased. For example, a grave in Norway stuffed with tools suggested the man buried inside could have been a blacksmith. Another grave in Birka had many weapons including arrows, shield, axe, etc. suggested the woman inside could have been a shieldmaiden. 

The Birka BJ581 burial Viking BJ581 burial

The BJ581 grave belonged to a Viking woman with weapons, two horses, and some other personal items.

The tradition of burying the grave goods with the deceased was a way for the Vikings to make sure that their deceased beloved ones would continue their afterlife like the life they had lived once. 

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