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Climb aboard the newly discovered Vikings’ longship in Norway3 min read

December 24, 2020 3 min read

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Climb aboard the newly discovered Vikings’ longship in Norway3 min read

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The greatest thing about a new discovery is that it brings history right to the present giving us a preview of an erstwhile magical land!
This time, we are being transported to the Vikings’ land (and sea) of 750 CE.

Sourced from Giphy.

This month, archaeologists in Norway hope to complete the excavation of a Vikings’s longship from Gjellestad, an ancient site to the south of Oslo (Norway’s capital).

Who are the Vikings?

Sourced from Giphy.

The Vikings or Norse people were fierce warriors and sea explorers from Scandinavia (a part of Northern Europe made up of present day Sweden, Norway, and Denmark). They were powerful throughout 700-1100 CE.

They expanded their presence to other parts of Europe for trade and land. The Vikings created a settlement in what is present day America, 500 years before Columbus’ advent to the land. For all these long voyages, the Vikings, being brilliant shipbuilders, used longships.

What are longships?

Sourced from Giphy.

The Vikings’ longships were used in battle, and for long voyages. They were long enough to accommodate between 25-50 oars, and slender enough to move quickly. They had a square sail and mast but could also be rowed in the absence of wind. They were so huge that smaller boats could be carried in them.

The Norse Vikings travelled around the British Isles, moved into Iceland and some settled in Greenland and Vinland in North America.

Therefore, what is being discovered now is more than a relic from the past—it is a legacy of their fine craftsmanship, and honour.

What makes the longships distinct is the fact that they served as burial sites for the richest nobles.

The discovery

This is the first excavation of its kind in over a century!

The dig started in June. Most of the ship has been excavated, now. Photo: BBC

Time has acted upon the ship that is mostly rotten. But experts claim that the iron nails on the surface of the ship will help in reconstructing an exact replica.
Ground-penetrating radar places this ship at 19m (62ft) in length and 5m (16ft) in height.

There are multiple speculations about the person buried in this ship grave. So far, researchers have found bones from a large animal (like a horse or a bull). No human remains have been detected, yet. But the size, magnificence, and location of the buried ship indicate that the person buried in the ship could have been a king, queen or a jarl (the Vikings equivalent of an earl).

Researchers report that there are signs of a well-organised robbery to remove precious artefacts from the ship that could very well point to a feud to usurp power.

Discoveries open up a world of possibilities, and with the longship, this history is just beginning to unfold.

Owliver shall keep you posted when the excavation ends!

In the meantime, hop aboard this crossword!