Buried in the ground close to an 829-year old church on an island off Norway’s northwest coast lies a ship that archaeologists believe dates back to Viking times or even earlier. The archaeologists have once again uncovered an historic treasure through the use of georadar.
“This is a discovery that has both national and international significance,” claimed Ola Elvestuen, the government minister in charge of climate, the environment and, in this case, cultural treasures. “The ship is important for our common history.”
The outlines of the buried vessel were discovered on the island of Edøya at Smøla, not far from Kristiansund, by archaeologists from the county of Møre og Romsdal and NIKU, the Norwegian institute for cultural research. High-resolution georadar also detected traces of a settlement near Edøy Gamle Kirke (Old Edøy Church) that itself dates from around 1190.
Archaeologists think the vessel may be older, more than 1,000 years old. The island is located along an ancient shipping channel to and from Trondheim and close to where the Viking king Harald Hårfagre waged two battles at sea towards the end of the 800s.
County officials noted in a flurry of press releases on Friday that the entire area is rich in cultural treasures and is where the name Nóregi was first believed to have been used, later becoming Norge (Norway).
NIKU leader Knut Paasche, who holds a doctorate in Viking ship history, said it was too early to say anything certain about the age of the ship, “but we know it’s more than 1,000 years old.” It’s believed to have a keel around 13 meters long and a total ship’s length of around 17 meters (roughly 56 feet).
County Mayor Tove-Lise Torve claimed that the discovery was the result of “systematic work” through a research and development project called Ein bit av historia (A piece of history). Edøy was an important spot on the old coastal pilgrim’s trail to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and, according to Torve, where “we’ve planned to establish a regional coastal pilgrims’ center for our county and Trøndelag.”
Elvestuen stressed that both the state and the county of Møre og Romsdal “have a great responsibility to manage the discovery.” It’s the latest in a string of ship discoveries near Halden and at Borre near Horten, both in Southern Norway.
The state, meanwhile, has been criticized for delaying funding for preservation of the Viking ships unearthed and put on display more than 100 years ago. The government in which Elvestuen serves finally included a specific post in next year’s state budget for an expanded Viking Ships Museum where the vessels are exhibited in Oslo.
For more on the latest discovery, click here (external link to NIKU’s website).