Elite graves found on Bornholm

Nearly 40  graves of the local elite were discovered by Polish archaeologists at the Norre Sandegard Vest site, Danish island of Bornholm. This burial ground, dated to between 6th-7th cent., is one of the richest in whole Denmark.

Excavations at the site (by Bartosz Świątkowski)

Until 2013 it was believed that the burial ground was much smaller, or even fully studied during the excavations in 1980s. But an accidental find of a new grave pointed to the need of new research of the site. Since 2014 joint Polish-Danish excavations revealed nearly 40 graves of men, women and children buried at the ancient graveyard.

Archaeological works at the site (by Bartosz Świątkowski)
Excavations and documentation (by Karolina Czonstka)

Archaeologists discovered numerous grave goods inside the graves. Women were buried with jewellery and adornments, while men were buried mostly with weapons. The finds from female graves include necklaces made of beads, fibulae, pendants, and toilet utensils. Among artefacts from men’s graves were swords, combat knives, spears, shields and belt adornments. In some of them there were also animal remains, consisting of either whole animal, either the head.

A warrior’s grave (by Bartosz Świątkowski)
Sax knife from a child’s grave (by Bartosz Świątkowski)

The site was probably chosen for the burial ground due to its location by the see in a near vicinity of a local seat of power. Existence of such is known from 9th century chronicles, like the one written by Wulfstan of Hedeby, informing of a single ruler controlling Bornholm island. The site excavated by Polish and Danish archaeologists may be considered as evidence of local ruling dynasty’s existence.

Jewellery made of glass beads, bronze pendants and a quartz crystal (by Bartosz Świątkowski)
Jewellery made of nearly 140 beads including 5 amethyst ones(by Bartosz Świątkowski)

(after Nauka w Polsce, Bartosz Świątkowski & Karolina Czonstka)

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