Ibn Fadlan was a secretary from the embassy of Baghad, to the Bulgars, in the years 921 - 922. His account of a Viking funeral ritual was found in Iran in 1923 and I relate it below:
" They burn him in this fashion : They leave him for the first ten days in a grave. His possessions they divide into three parts : one part for his daughters and wives; another for garments to clothe the corpse; another part covers the cost of the intoxicating drink which they consume in the course of ten days, uniting sexually with women and playing musical instruments. Meanwhile, the slave - girl who gives herself to be burned with him, in these ten days drinks and indulges in pleasure; she decks her head and her person with all sorts of ornaments and fine dress and so arrayed gives herself to the men. "
" On the ninth day, having drawn the ship up on to the river bank, they guarded it. In the middle of the ship they prepared a dome of wood and covered it with various sorts of fabrics. "
" The tenth day they brought the deceased out of the grave and put him inside the dome, and put around him different kinds of flowers and fragrant plants. Many men and women gathered around and played musical instruments." The slave - girl then went to each of the pavillions that were erected and had intercourse with each of the masters of these pavillions. The masters after doing their "duty" with the slave - girl, loudly proclaimed " Tell your master that I have done the duty of love and friendship. " When this was over, they cut a dog in two halves and put it into the boat, then, having cut the head off of a rooster, they threw it, head and body, to the right and left of the ship. "
" After that, the group of men who had cohabited with the slave - girl make of their hands a paved way whereby the girl, placing her feet on the palms of their hands, mounts onto the ship. After that, they give her a hen, which she throws into the ship after tearing off its head. Then she drinks a cup of intoxicating drink and pronounces many words, and thrice standing on the palms of the men, she comes down and mounts again to the ship and recites many things. She goes into the dome, in which her husband, has now been put, and six of the relatives of her husband go into the pavilion and unite with this wife in the presence of the dead man. When they have finished these duties of love, the old woman, who according to the belief of these people, is the Angel of Death, arrives and lays the wife to sleep beside her husband. Of the six men, two seize the legs of the slave - girl, and two others her hands, and the old woman, twisting her veil, puts it around her neck and gives the ends to the two other men so that they can pull it so tight that the soul escapes from her body. "
He goes on to say that then the ship was lit on fire, and that it took less than an hour for the ship, and all its contents to be reduced to ashes. Though to us in our modern world this seems rather harsh and vulgar, we cannot judge those from a different time period using the morals that exist in todays society. To the Rus Vikings this was just the normal course of events that took place when a man of prominence died. This was the way that they honored their dead, and we have no right to judge what to them was a solemn event. And this is the way that it was witnessed, and preserved in writing, over a thousand years ago by an Arab emissary named Ibn Fadlan.
P.S. This is a shortened version of the account given in Gwyn Jones' " A History of the Vikings ".
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !