Before we reveal some of the deepest and darkest truths from the womb of history, let us understand who the Vikings were. Vikings were essentially raiders hailing from southern Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) who would travel to expanded areas of Europe, and westward to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. They were also known as Norse people, sea voyagers with the advanced military, technological and cultural skills expanding their government with their on-going travels. The Norse people are believed to follow folk religion, religion, or practice, which does not abide by preexisting gods or religions. Their faith originated in the family, leading to the worshipping of dead ancestors. We can carefully call them pagan, if not anti-religion, as the concept of Christianity was yet to gain the spotlight. The Vikings would generally cremate or bury the dead, but there is certainly more to their peculiar lifestyle.
The Mysterious Grave
A fascinating grave mystery has recently resurfaced in the heart of Norway. Two grave boats (yes, you heard it right) have been discovered, one embedded in the other containing the bodies of a woman and the other of a male warrior, with their belonging safely placed next to them. Confused? Let me help you with our investigatory skills. Here we have two dead people sleeping next to each other in a 7-8-meter-long boat, who died approximately 100 years apart. Can you imagine this absurdity in today’s date? Archaeologists are finding it difficult to decipher the meaning of such obscurity, adding confusion to Viking grave mysteries. It makes us question the lives and beliefs of a long-dead culture, only surfaces 1000 years later to add to our perplexity.
Archaeological survey of the grave
On further study of the two graves, we understand that the woman died a hundred years later than the man, presumably in the 9th century. On close observation of her attached belongings, we know that she must have been someone famous or renowned in the society of the Vikings. Her dress was adorned with a bowl-shaped bronze brooch and a crucifix-shaped brooch, along with two scissors, a spindle whorl, and a cow head. Spooky, indeed. Vikings believed in a life after death, a life not different from the one led before dying. They believed that the dead would be needing day-to-day commodities just like they used to before death. According to them, death was only a doorway to your next life, and there is no actual death of the being. Instead of digging a fresh grave for the man, she is instead buried in an already existing larger grave of a warrior (assuming from the weapons found with his body) size of approximately 9-10 meters long. What does this absurdity indicate? Last wish of the woman or the man to be buried together? Or the Vikings following a tradition yet unknown to us? The gap of 100 years between the two deaths makes the whole situation even more mysterious. Researchers and scholars are trying to deduce the relationship between the two graves by their extracted DNA and burial site. A prolonged research on the remains of their fossils might lead to some clarification on the case.
Ancestral worship amongst the Vikings
Knowing that the Vikings believed in ancestral worship and the family’s hierarchy was of supreme importance, it might not be wrong to deduce that perhaps the two belonged to the same lineage and were buried together to establish family tradition or secure some sort of permanency on the land in which they were buried. Completing the circle of blood-bond relation perhaps. Learning from such didactic discoveries, we understand we have come a long, long way in the trajectory of civilization.
Boat grave tradition
As history suggests, the grave boat tradition was started by Norse people to honor the dead and their belongings or sometimes merely burying the material of the dead along with them. The “boats” symbolized a journey to the other world, sailing with their required belongings to a world unknown to the Vikings, yet tangible to their beliefs. Larger the boat/ship, the greater the person sleeping in it. Although the boat graves were a common burial method, not all Viking men and women were buried in boats. It can be inferred that the boat graves were only entitled to a wealthy lot of society. Rank holders or military men or families of the kings and queens were buried in large boat graves while the middle or lower class were either cremated or buried ordinarily. The largest recorded Viking boat was 20 m long and was discovered in 2018. It was assumed to be belonging to a Viking king or queen. Later with the advent of civilization, the Philippines too took to boat burial in the 15th century with modernized techniques.
Society of the Vikings
On knowing about such discoveries, it occurs to us that our past is full of unidentified mysterious truths, coming to light gradually. We are still oblivious to various unfound traditions, cultures, practices, and a whole undiscovered world, perhaps lying somewhere beneath the dust of time, waiting to be unraveled and studied. Our beliefs in gods and his/her purpose have evolved in various dimensions, paving the way for the construction of new history, like our discovery of Vikings and their grave history. The Vikings certainly maintained a very orderly lifestyle, as studied from the artifacts discovered from excavation sites. Men were primarily registered in the military and carried out orders for trade across the sea, and the Viking society was primarily male-dominated.
To conclude today’s discovery on Viking’s grave mystery, we learned the practice of boat graves and their significance in the lives of Viking people. We also came across a very absurd boat grave in the middle of Norway, containing two graves in one large boat, the death 100 years apart. Now that is some mindboggling truth coming to surface 1000 years later, puzzling archaeologists and humanity. While the research on their identity is still on, let us keep a clear head on the facts and be contained with the provided truth for the time being. It seems weird to stay oblivious to such magnanimous truth, knowing that the soil beneath us entails a million secrets of the eras passed. We are only creating and preserving history with our existence, giving way to future histories.