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Two Remarkable Graves in Vinjeøra, Norway

The archaeological site in Vinjeøra, Norway reveals many untold stories about the Viking Age. We learned last year about a mortuary house and a fascinating double boat burial. This year, we can add two graves with small, but fascinating aspects to the list.

The Lefty Sword

Around the burial mound in the cemetery, is a ring ditch with graves. The idea is that those buried in this ditch held a close (family) relationship to the person buried in the mound. Archaeologists have discovered three warrior graves close to each other. All have a pack of armour and probably date to the ninth or tenth century. Unusual is that in one of these graves, the sword seems placed on the left-hand side of the deceased. Normally, swords are placed on the right-hand side. Was this warrior a ‘lefty’? If there is another explanation, it remains a mystery for now.

Bird Bones

A fourth grave is a cremation and belongs to a woman. A large amount of bones are in the grave, including bird bones. At the moment, there is no explanation for this other than it was probably part of a ritual. There is a similar case of bird bones in a Viking Age grave further up north in Hillesøy. Birds are symbols in Norse mythology, but how and if they functioned as burial rituals remains unclear.

Read about about the excavation in Vinjeøra on the ScienceNorway site. Other news sources so far are mostly reposts of this article. To learn more about the grave in Hillesøy, see the blog of Dr Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir.

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