Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) have made a find greater than any they thought was still possible. A few structures, burial sites, and an entire buried ship were located in one field using new radar technology. Some people are heralding the amazing find as a “field of archaeological dreams.”
While the concept of burying an entire ship may sound very strange to us, it was actually a somewhat common practice among ancient Vikings. Important personages, often a king, queen or beloved chieftain were buried in their boats, with some of their treasures, to prepare them for the afterlife.
The boat found by the NIKU team is one of only several Viking burial boats discovered in the twentieth century. The craft is rather large, roughly 65 feet in length according to the radar scans. Its exact condition cannot be determined yet, but it appears to be at least largely intact.
Location and significance of the find
NIKU archaeologists located the buried Viking ship and the other sites not far from the capital of Norway, Oslo. The area around the ship burial appears to be a much larger Viking cemetery.
Unburying the ship, along with the structures and burial sites nearby, could bring forth a wealth of new historical Viking artifacts for archaeologists to study. However, the NIKU team are trying not to get their hopes up too high, pointing out that many such finds were looted long ago and the area has seen a lot of farming in the intervening years.
The archaeological team found this site while working with local authorities to scan beneath the ground with motorized radar scanners. Ground-penetrating radar is not a brand new technology, but it has seen significant improvement, leading to its use in discovering buried treasures such as this historic find.
Using pulses of electromagnetic radiation and reading the reflection of signals, georadar technology is able to map underground finds without disrupting them. Equip such radar on a specialized vehicle and archaeologists are able to search for buried sites far faster than ever before.