Radar finds viking ship under farm in Norway

The ship likely signified a great warrior on the way to Valhalla
viking ship The remains of the ship are circled in red and then outlined in green. The boat dates back well over 1,000 years. (Manuel Gabler/NIKU)


Modern technology and an unbelievable stroke of luck has allowed researchers to discover a long-buried Viking ship on Edoya Island in Norway. The ship, which measures between 16 and 17 metres (52 to 55 feet) was found in, of all places, a farmer's field! A bit of an odd place for a boat, right?

Did the field used to be a lake? Nope, at least not during the time of the Vikings. Instead, what we're seeing is a window into an ancient tradition that dates back over 1,000 years.

This ship was on its way to heaven.

Next stop, Valhalla!

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"Hey! The party's just getting started!" Norse god Odin welcomes warriors into Valhalla, a.k.a. Viking heaven. (Manuel Gabler/NIKU)

In Viking folklore, heaven was a place known as Valhalla. This place was where every warrior and king longed to find themselves in the afterlife — where honourable warriors drank and ate and fought forever and ever. (You'll have to trust us when we say that for a Viking this was as good as it could get.)

To get there, you had to be buried in a ship, which would carry you to Valhalla. The ship was buried under a huge mound of dirt and, as far as the Vikings were concerned, that person's journey was set.

In their culture, the more important the person, the bigger the ship — not unlike how the size of a tomb for an Egyptian person would show their social standing, for example. So in the case of this new discovery, the Viking who was buried there was likely very important indeed.

Radar luck

viking ship

An enlarged view of the Viking ship. Archaeologists are excited to know more about it. (Manuel Gabler/NIKU)

The archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research want to perform a few more scans before excavate (dig up) the ancient vessel. But it really is a modern miracle that it was found at all.

Over time, erosion and human developments have flattened down many of these Viking burial mounds. In addition, the wood of ships has partially deteriorated into the surrounding soil. Digging randomly to find these ships is time consuming, so researchers now use radar to try and increase their odds. But even then, you still need some luck.

This discovery came after the researchers decided to end their day of searching by scanning a local farm. Guess that was the right choice. We can't wait to see who this ancient traveller was and what artifacts were buried there!


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