Viking Excavations That Can Challenge The Scholars

Archaeology is awesome. Because not only does it help us understand what the ancient people did in their time but archaeological artifacts also excite the scholars with new mysteries. In Viking excavations, some artifacts have dazzled the scholars and archaeologists to the core for the unsolved questions. Here are some of Viking excavations that challenge the scholars and might rewrite the history.

Oseberg Tapestry

The excavation of Oseberg burial site is among the most interesting find. Because every step to examine the site reveals the luxury of the burial site. A knock at the door by a local farmer made a group of insightful archaeologists quickly gather and study the area. They found out that the site was a burial mound with a Viking ship and a luxurious Viking grave under.

In the Oseberg chamber where the owners of the burial site rest forever was a beautiful Oseberg tapestry. After the reconstruction, the archaeologists found out that it depicted a traditional ritual in the Viking Age. What’s interesting is the man leading the ritual. In the tapestry, a man in a bigger size than other participants was wearing a horned helmet which is a mystery.

Image of Viking ship excavation Oseberg tapestry
The left side of the Oseberg tapestry depicting the leading man with the horned helmet holding his sword in an awkward position.

As the archaeologists believed that the only horned thing in the Viking Age was the Viking drinking horn. Wearing a horned helmet to join the battle was ridicule. But they never thought the horned helmet in a ritual. This quickly evoked the question of the horned helmet’s historical existence.

Birka burial BJ 581

In the past, Birka was a hectic Viking trading center. But after two centuries of flourishing, the inhabitants abandoned Birka for its reduction of economic potentials. In the modern time, Birka is a common destination for archaeology. The archaeologists have detected at least 2,300 graves in Birka. One famous burial is the BJ581.

Firstly, what the BJ581 drew the attention of the archaeologists was the collection of Viking weapons inside the grave. What was inside suggested that the owner of the grave was a Viking warrior. “He” must have dedicated all of his life fighting and battling for honor.

Many years after when an archaeologists happened to see the skeleton of BJ581 and doubted the size of the skeleton. It didn’t seem to be large enough to belong to a man. And scholars carried out study on the BJ581’s skeleton. The result was so spectacular that it dazzled the researchers to the core. The BJ 581’s skeleton belonged to a woman who lived in the Viking Age.

BJ581 Birka woman warrior
Many years after the excavation, the archaeologists started to examine the skeleton remains. They found that the skeletons inside the BJ581 full of weapons belonged to a woman

Because the Vikings often buried the daily goods and items of the deceased with them, this interested the scholars. Was the woman inside BJ581 a shieldmaiden – the Viking female warrior? As the scholars widely agree that Viking shieldmaiden is legendary, this Viking remains make them re-think about the historical existence of the shieldmaiden.

However, some scholars and historians refuse to believe in the historical existence of Viking shieldmaiden despite BJ581. The archaeological evidence was not enough to show that the woman inside had used their weapons. She might have been the heir of the weapons which used to belong to her father or male ancestors.

L’Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America prior to the landing of Columbus. It is an archaeological site in the northernmost tip of Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland.

After the excavation in the 1960s, the archaeologists confirmed it to date back to 1000AD. It meant the site was constructed by the Vikings before the time Columbus found out America.

L'anse Aux Meadows now is now a UNESCO World Heritage dating back to the Vikings
L’anse Aux Meadows among the Viking excavations is now a UNESCO World Heritage dating back to the Vikings

But it was not a permanent site of the Vikings. They could find no burial there. Some daily things that the Vikings used revealed themselves in L’Anse aux Meadows. Stone oil lamp, whetstone, bronze fastening pin, bone knitting needle, etc.

Because this site was associated with the Vinland Saga, historians doubted the Viking discovery of the North America before Columbus. In the Vinland Saga, it was circa 1,000AD that Leif Eriksson happened to sail his ship to the land of Vinland which is North America now.


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