The archaeologists have scanned a site in Østfold, Norway with a hi-tech radar. Nothing much have been found until the footage of a 20-metre ship below the surface. Indeed, it is a Viking ship burial lying 50cm under the earth.
What is different in this Viking ship burial is that the imposing mound once covering it has just ploughed out. Around the site, the archaeologists could see (with their hi-tech radar) that there are eight more burials and five nearby longhouses. Obviously, the ship is not alone in the site. All burials in the site form a cemetery that displays power and influence of the family or the owner of the site only.
The archaeologists have no intention to immediately dig out the burials. The assistance of the non-invasive research will help the archaeologists map the location of what is left in the site. This modern technique can also help to assess the condition of the burial without touching it.
Viking ship burial tradition in the Viking Age
No one knows where the Viking ship burial tradition comes from. The most famous theory is the funeral of Baldur son of Odin. In Norse mythology, Baldur, the Shining god and son of Odin, were murdered by Loki the trickster. The Norse gods held the funeral for Baldur, placing Baldur on a luxurious ship, setting sail and burning the ship.
For the Vikings had a deeply-ingrained belief in their Norse gods, Viking funeral tradition is likely to be affected by their gods.
But burying with a ship was not common in the Viking age. Because not all the Vikings could afford for themselves a ship. The practice of burying the dead with a ship was among the wealthy and noble in the Viking Age.
The ordinary and free Viking men when dead could be placed in the grave. Surrounding them was the stone closure in the shape of the ship.
The Vikings believed that a good means of transport would carry the dead to the better afterlife. And Valhalla was the most desired afterlife that every Viking wished.