About 1,000 years ago, Vikings dug a grave for a “warrior of high status” and buried him in a boat that was overflowing with grave goods, including a hefty sword and a broad bladed ax, according to a new examination.
The Viking warrior was buried in western Scotland’s Swordle Bay, far from his home in Scandinavia. But, the artifacts discovered in his grave are Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish in origin, the researchers found.
The rare finding provides insights into how the peoples of western Scotland lived and interacted during the tenth century, when this Viking was buried, the researchers said.
The discoveries suggest a connection between Scandinavia and Ireland in the objects found, as well as information about the history of diet of the person buried here and their connections away from Swordle Bay.
The study’s lead specialist, Oliver Harris, an associate professor of archaeology at the University of Leicester, said in a statement.
Researchers found the grave in 2011 on Scotland’s remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula.
They were astonished to find that the individual was buried with warrior-related weapons, including an ax, sword, spear and shield.
The scientists also discovered 213 of the boat’s metal rivets, which survived while the wooden boat decayed over the years.
Other grave goods that were Found in the burial relate to daily life, cooking, work, farming and food production, the researchers said.
In addition, the grave is close to a Neolithic burial cairn (a human-made stone mound), whose stones may have been incorporated into the Viking grave, the researchers stated.
“The Ardnamurchan boat burial represents the first excavation of an intact Viking boat burial by archaeologists on the U.K. mainland, and provides a significant addition to our knowledge of burial practices from this period,” Harris stated.
The archaeological team also Discovered a shield boss (the domed part of the shield that protected the warrior’s hand); a whetstone made from a kind of rock that’s found in Norway; and a single copper-alloy ringed pin, which was likely used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud.
In addition, the grave held the mineralized remains of textiles and wood.
“Critically, when considering a burial like this, it is essential to remember that each of these objects, and each of these actions, was never isolated, but rather they emerge out of, and help to form, an assemblage that knits together multiple places, people and moments in time,” the specialists said in the statement.
An analysis of the isotopes in the man’s teeth (an isotope is an element that has a different number of neutrons than normal in its nucleus) suggests that he grew up in Scandinavia, the scientists noted.
Other recent Viking founds include an immense ax buried with a Viking “power couple” in Denmark, and Viking graves with the bodies of beheaded slaves in Norway.