Viking king’s altar discovered by archaeologists

Excavations in Trondheim, Norway, revealed the original shrine at the site of an Early Medieval wooden church, where Viking king Olaf Haraldsson may have been enshrined after he was declared a saint.

Shrine found at the church (by Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage via Live Science)
Shrine found at the church (by Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage via Live Science)

King Olaf Haraldsson conquered and consolidated Norway in 1016. He died in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. After the battle the body was taken immediately to Trondheim where it was buried in a wooden church of St. Clement. After locals began circulating stories about miracles credited to the dead king, his grave was opened, and his body was found to be miraculously well preserved, according to church teachings. The local bishop declared him a saint, St. Olaf.

3D model of the excavated church Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage via Live Science)
3D model of the excavated church Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage via Live Science)

Olaf’s remains were later moved to a larger church in Trondheim, upon which Nidaros Cathedral was built. Now archaeologists believe to have found remains of the church’s altar as a rectangular platform emerged during excavations at the site. It is believed that this altar may have been the High Altar of the church built over St. Olaf’s new grave.

(after Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage and Live Science)

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