Viking age burials discovered in North Iceland

Archaeologists discovered a boat burial of a Viking chief and his dog, along with a second burial, at a site at Dysnes in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland.

The boat burial discovered at the site (by Hildur Gestsdóttir)

Researchers excavating the ancient burial site discovered the remains of a ship burial, and it seems a wealthy chieftain seems to have been buried in one of his boats along with some of his worldly possessions, including a sword and his dog. The grave is believed to date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. The sword, which was found close to the surface is in very poor condition. The location of the site is not a coincidence – it is located North of Gáseyri, the primary trading post in Eyjafjörður fjord during the Viking age.

Excavations at the site (by Auðunn)

The area where the ship burial was found is known as Dysnes – “dys” is an old word for burial mound, pointing to Viking age graves. As to this day relatively few boat graves have been excavated in Iceland. One possible explanation is that boats were too valuable, with extremely limited domestic sources of timber for boat-building. Discovering Viking age graves with swords is similarly uncommon, and both finds point to the burial site of a wealthy local chief. Soon after the initial discovery, two other graves have been found at the site. Moreover, neither of the boat grave seems to have been disturbed.

The site located in Dysnes (by Auðunn)

The site is endangered by erosion caused by the sea. The waves have already destroyed half of the boat in the grave, washing away any artefacts which were contained within. The bones and the sword discovered were lying close to the surface. Archaeologists also found human bones scattered on the surface.

(after Iceland Magazine, Auðunn  & Hildur Gestsdóttir)

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