Viking Gjellestad Ship Is Being Excavated After Centuries

Gjellestad ship

For the Viking enthusiasts, this must be the most exciting news coming to us in the middle of this tough year. The Viking Gjellestad Ship which was discovered in 2018 is now being excavated.

Norwegian archaeologists confirmed last month about the excavation. This project was also funded by the government. The ship belonged to a part of the Viking burial mound. It is promising that the excavation will help us to understand more about the Viking culture and more importantly, we are going to have a golden opportunity to observe one more Viking ship in flesh.

2018 Discovery

The discovery of this burial site in 2018 becomes one of the most awesome Viking discovery by far. The ship and the surrounding area are discovered by the researchers and archaeologists. This project discovered the burial mounds and the remains of the Viking buildings. 

The georadar image showed that what is below the ground was a ship. But at that time, they cannot make out which age the ship belonged to. It was not until 2019 that thanks to dendrochronology – the study of the data from tree ring growth – the archaeologists finally confirmed that the ship came from the Viking Age. 

The patterns in the ship’s timber correspond to the time from 600 to 720. Although it is hard to confirm the date of the ship, according to the project team leader, it does date back to the early years of the Viking Age. 

The Viking ship site Gjellestad
The Viking ship site Gjellestad

The story began when some construction was about to be carried out on the site. Realizing that the site was quite complicated during the Viking Age, a team of archaeologists decided to scan through the site with land penetrating radar. Surprisingly, they found out a perfectly round “thing” beneath the land. For a nation full of Viking traces like Norway, the archaeologists are not strange to this kind of round “thing”. They realized they found out another Viking tomb and this tomb even consisted of a Viking ship inside. 

The Gjellestad ship

From the radar images, the archaeologists learned that Gjellestad ship’s keel and lower timbers are currently intact. However, the upper parts of the hull are no longer there. A possible reason is now attributed to the plow by the farmers after centuries. 

Possible status of the ship inside burial mound
Possible status of the ship inside burial mound

Since the discovery of the ship, there have been tons of conflicting opinions as to whether we should dig up the land or just let the deceased inside rest in peace. Many people believe that disturbing the burial by digging it up means we are showing disrespect to the deceased. But the point is if we don’t bring the ship up and preserve it, we will forever lose it. 

Last month, the archaeologists confirmed of the excavation when realizing that the ship was under a bad condition with fungus attacks. And at the end of June, the very first spade touched the land. 

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