Viking Graves with Beheaded Skeletons Suggested Slave Sacrifice

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Viking Graves with Beheaded Skeletons Suggested Slave Sacrifice

Viewpoint on the Vikings varies from scholar to scholar. Some people believe the Vikings were among the cruellest tribes in their time. Meanwhile, others claim that the Vikings were nothing to compare with other grim tribes. The Viking graves excavated in Flakstad, Norway have made the scholars re-consider the level of cruelty of the Vikings. In the graves, the archaeologists discovered remains of the skeletons with heads. The dietary analysis suggested that the people in the graves experienced simple meals. 

The archaeologists believed that the people buried together in the graves were the part of the slave sacrifice or human sacrifice in Viking traditional funeral. 


The Vikings were famous for their achievement across the ocean. On their great ships, the Vikings travelled around and made fortune. But they were not the full-time raiders. Most of the times, they were the farmers and some of them relied on the slaves for their cultivation and harvest. 

Some of the slaves who had talents in forging or crafting would be treated very well. Without any talent, the slaves would have to work every day and live with the domestic animals. 

The Vikings captured the women on their raids and turned them into the sex slaves. And if the woman was pregnant and later delivered the baby, the baby would become the slave like the mother. 

Viking trading Viking slaves was a Viking economy

The Vikings trading their slaves to make money. Viking slave trading belonged to its economy

When the graves were excavated, the items inside were either looted or damaged. The archaeologists found out that there were a few of the skeletons were beheaded while the rest remained unchanged. Accordingly, the archaeologists concluded that the beheaded ones must have been the slaves. 


According to the archaeologists, the remains of the people inside the graves could show their dietary and eating patterns. The beheaded ones tended to consume protein from the fish while the other had their protein source from the food on the land and the dairy products.

This suggested that the people though found inside the graves together came from different social classes. 

Viking headless skeletons inside the Viking graves in Norway

The Viking skeletons without heads excavated in Norway


The archaeologists claimed that the beheaded ones were the slaves that the Vikings sacrificed them to the grave. It meant no matter the slave volunteered or not, the Vikings would just throw them to escort the dead. 

Though there has been no official conclusion about the slave sacrifice in the Viking age, both textual and archaeological evidence suggested it had existed. 

Ibn Fadlan an Arabian traveller who claimed that he encountered the Vikings on his journey described a Viking female slave volunteered to follow her master to join him in his afterlife. 

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