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Dig to begin at royal Viking estate

The largest archaeological project in Norway in nearly 10 years will begin in June to recover property of the Viking king Harald Hårfagre (alternatively known as “Harald Fairhair,” “Harald Finehair” or, simply, “Harald I”). He was, at any rate, the first king of Norway.

Harald the Fairhaired, receiving the kingdom of Norway in an ancient tapestry. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Newspaper Aftenposten reports that the work will be taking place in Avaldsnes, Karmøy (southwest Norway), at a site believed to be part of Fairhair’s royal estate. The research project, led by Oslo’s Cultural History Museum in cooperation with its counterpart museum in Stavanger, will run from mid-June to mid-September and look to exhume about 11,000 square meters in the area this year, before completing the project in 2012.

Harald Fairhair is credited by many with uniting, through conquests and alliances, the various smaller princedoms into something resembling the modern kingdom of Norway. He is believed to have reigned from 872AD until his death in 932AD.

There is considerable historical debate over which areas he controlled, either directly or indirectly, and many point out that there were large parts of the existing country that lay outside of his kingdom.

The name “Fairhair” originates from a legend that suggests that Harald vowed not to cut his hair until he was king of all of Norway, after being originally rejected by his eventual queen Gyda Eiriksdottir, who wanted him to have more power before they married.

Other digs, too
Alongside the project to uncover the remains of Harald I, there are a series of other digs set to go ahead across southwestern and southern Norway.

Research will be conducted  as part of motorway works in Vestfold related to a number of eras in human history, with the majority looking at the various stages of the Stone Age, especially the middle and late Mesolithic period. The Cultural History Museum hopes the work will reveal more about the development of stone age dwellings in the region.

More work will also be undertaken in Gudbrandsdalen in Oppland County before the building of a new motorway between Ringebu and Otta. It will focus on Iron Age settlements, and coal or whaling pits from the Iron and Middle Ages.

Yet more archaeological projects will take place in Hovden in the mountains of Aust-Agder and at Tyinkrysset, Oppland County before the building of new holiday homes, and will look for evidence of iron production.

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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