“We are likely to find remains of wood, animals and objects. Maybe bone remnants after the burial (s),» says project manager Christian Løchsen Rødsrud.
Source: UIO, museum of Cultural History
It became a world sensation when archaeologists discovered a new Viking ship on the farm Gjellestad near Halden in Østfold County in Norway last year. Prior to Gjellestad, no buried Viking ship had been discovered in Norway for over 100 years. On Monday, August 26, the shovel is put into the ground to document the condition of the ship.
“Some have dug a drainage ditch to the ship earlier. We reopen that ditch but extend it toward the midship to assess conservation conditions. The ground penetrating radar measurements show a deviation from the west and into the midship, which we interpret as the result of a grave plunder. That’s why we also put a shaft in there, to find out more about this looting. At the robbery of Oseberg, a few years after the ship landed on the ground, the robbers again left shovels and other equipment that allowed the looting to be timed. We hope to find that too,” says archaeologist at the Cultural History Museum, Christian Løchsen Rødsrud., Who is the project manager for the ship’s excavations.
The archaeologist is optimistic about what they will find.
“We hope to find wood from the boat that we can date, and that is likely. There may also be other organic things that can be dated. We definitely find boat nails. And because we dig quite close to the midship, where it may have been a burial chamber, it is quite likely that we will find something from the rituals that have taken place on board the ship. Typical objects from the three best preserved ship tombs we know of in the past are animal remains, and metal and wood objects.”
The measurements show that the ship is about 20 meters long, and thus about the same size as the Viking ships on display at the Viking Ship House at Bygdøy in Oslo. But Rødsrud emphasizes that this is not a new Oseberg discovery.
“Probably it is more decomposed than that, and if we find wood residue, it is probably more similar to the Tuneskipet than Oseberg. But it all depends on conservation conditions,” he says.
A major difference from the Oseberg tomb where the entire ship is preserved is that this tomb no longer has any protective pile over it. The soil over the Gjellestad ship, on the other hand, has been ploughed by the farmers at Jellestad for many, many years. This means that much of the ship’s rallies have probably disappeared, and that the ship is very damaged at the top. Rødsrud is nevertheless positive.
“The signals from the geodata are clear, and although parts of the ship are likely to be severely degraded, the lowest parts of the ship may be better preserved. Especially about a meter below the ground surface, the keel of the ship seems to emerge clearly. The signals show a tight boat shape, which means we don’t think it has completely collapsed. The deeper down the keel we get, the better the preservation conditions,” Rødsrud believes.