Deep beneath Scotland’s Swordle Bay laid a great warrior, unmolested for a thousand years. Until some meddling scientists came along and exhumed him, unleashing an ancient curse upon the countryside. The Ancient One rose from his grave to lead the scientists, transformed into a skeleton army, on a campaign to reclaim his lost realm.
Not really. But researchers did discover the gravesite of a Viking “warrior of high status.” He was buried with a large axe and a huge sword. The weapons were made of materials from Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia, suggesting a strong link between Ireland and the Vikings’ native Scandinavia.
The lead archaeologist responsible for the find, Oliver Harris of the Univesrity of Leicester, says that the unknown Viking can tell us a lot about the ancient Norse diet and the history of the Viking invasion of the UK.
The Viking was buried in a remote part of western Scotland, on a spur of land called the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. He was also buried with a spear and a shield. But most interestingly of all, there is clear evidence that he was buried in a boat.
While the boat’s wooden components decomposed long ago, 213 metal rivets used in its construction were left in the grave.
Also stashed in the burial boat were a number of items that would have been useful in daily domestic life. And there’s even evidence that part of the Viking’s grave was constructed with a Neolithic stone burial cairn.
It is the first intact Viking boat burial to be found on the British mainland. Researchers are learning a lot not just about that particular Viking but about Viking burial practices in general. In a nutshell: they’re cool.
The grave was just teeming with treasures. The researchers also uncovered a copper ring pin that was probably used to fasten a cloak, a whetstone made from Norwegian rock and a domed boss that would have protected the Viking’s shield hand during combat. There were also traces of mineralized textiles and wood.
The scientists released a statement about the burial, highlighting the fact that all the finds should be considered in aggregate, as they were deliberately buried together. The collection of items “knits together multiple places, people and moments in time.”
They ran isotope analysis on the Viking’s teeth and concluded that he was raised somewhere in Scandinavia.
If only archaeology could be this exciting all the time.