In Viksletta, near the monumental Jellhaugen in Østfold, archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) have discovered various houses and graves – some of which are very large – with the help of georadar, Østfold County, on behalf of the district council of Østfold. Municipality writes in a press release.
The perhaps most sensational find, however, is the traces of a ship that has ever been laid in a number of fields.
"We are sure that there is a ship there, but how much it is saved is difficult to say before the investigation is examined," says Morten Hanisch, county curator at Østfold.
"The discovery looks incredibly exciting, we only have three well-preserved Viking shipwrecks here, so this finding will certainly be of great historical importance," says Knut Paasche, department head at NIKU, and expert on ships from this period.
The finding was made after the municipality of Halden, in accordance with the agreement, had announced the application for drainage of the soil at Viksletta. It has long been known that there have been graves on earth, both by older written and oral sources, surrendered metal surveys and a smaller registration by the County of Østfold County in 2017. The traces that have now arisen with georadar are sensational .
"Management has worked very well here, because we already knew that this area is rich in cultural heritage, we now wanted to avoid registration methods that could be detrimental to cultural memories, which was a good opportunity to apply methods that are both cultural and cultural. To respect monuments as the bottom, which can offer a complete picture of the earth, we have decided to work together with NIKU, who are experts in the use of georadar, and we are happy today, says Hanisch.
Østfold County Municipality also draws attention to the fact that the cooperation with landowner Olav Jellestad worked well. The landowners were flexible and patient, so that the archaeologists were able to carry out the georadar surveys in a good way.
Viking ship found using georadar
The archaeologists have used a motorized georadar in Jellhaugen. The technology was developed by NIKU in collaboration with various international partners, organized by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Forecasting and Virtual Archeology (LBI ArchPro).
The Viking ship finds today just below the ground of about. half a meter deep and records the data as a large, clear ship-like structure within a larger circle. It is probably only the traces of the central part of the ship that are now visible through georadar, while severe and severe forces seem to be gone.
This can be one of the largest ships found
The impression of the ship at Viksletta is itself 20 meters long. For comparison, the Oseberg ship is 21 meters long, the Gokstad ship is 23 meters and the Tuneskipet is 19 meters long.
Archaeologists still have to find a safe date, but ships that are part of the funeral finds are well known from the beginning of the Iron Age. 500-1030. All other major ship discoveries from the Oslo fjord area date back to the Viking Age (800-1030).
"When we only see the bottom part of the ship, it means that at best we can end up with a ship that is at least as large as other Norwegian Viking ship finds, which is probably one of the most important ship discoveries of this period," Hanisch said. .
Found remains of at least eight burial mounds and five long houses
In addition to the spectacular discovery of Viking ships, the georadar has so far found at least eight unknown burial mounds varying in size, design and content. Among other things, an approximately 35 meters long long distance was found, as well as the remains of two other monumental burial mounds that also measured a diameter of almost 30 meters.
The burial mounds are removed from the surface today, but with the help of georadar the remains can be mapped after these once important plants.
In addition, the georadar has revealed five houses in the area.
– The burial mounds on the field in Jellhaugen were plowed at the end of the 19th century when agriculture was mechanized. What remains, and as we see in our georadata data, is the cave that lies around the burial mound. In some cases we also see the grave itself, if it is dug in the subsoil, says Paasche.
NIKU and Østfold County Municipality recommend using more geophysical methods that can provide more knowledge about the ship without having to dig it up.
Normal conservation conditions indicate that it is likely that the air has penetrated the layers, causing woodwork and other organic matter to rot away.
However, the professionals still have some exciting evidence that wood can be kept in the grave, even if they can not say for sure what these structures represent.
What happens next?
In consultation with the Riksantikvaren, the provincial municipality Østfold has made it clear that further on-site investigations must be carried out in order to gain more knowledge about the findings. The disadvantages this causes for landowners will cover the state in terms of financial compensation for lost harvest in a year.
As soon as the preliminary investigations have been completed, the Riksantikvaren will decide what will happen next.
NIKU and the provincial municipality Østfold want to investigate the findings and chart the ship and the rest of the cultural monuments on the spot in various ways. "We want a good cooperation with landowner, the Riksantikvaren and the Museum for Cultural History," says Paasche and Hanisch.