One of the finest examples of a ship burial was found at the Oseberg farm near Tonsberg, in Norway. Dendrochronological dating tells us that this burial mound ship was built around 830 C.E. and it is adorned with beautiful carvings of beasts on its bow and stern. By the way, dendrochronological dating is dating wood by using its growth rings to show its chronological age. This 30 rower ship was made of oak and was clinker built, ( overlapping planks ), as were most large Viking Age vessels. For those who think that Viking ship burials were for just male warriors........ well think again. This burial site contained only two women, who may have been of royal lineage. The first woman was an older lady aged approximately 60 -70 years, and the second was a much younger woman of between the ages of 25 - 30. There is speculation that the younger woman was a handmaiden who was sacrificed to attend to the needs of the older woman in the afterlife. Though there is also evidence that the younger woman was a person of luxury. There are a few who even believe that this may be the grave of the legendary Queen Asa. I am by no means an archaeologist so I will not speculate either way.
Along with the women there were found 14 horses, an ox, and 3 dogs. Unfortunately the grave had been robbed in ancient times of its gold and valuables, but there was still a lot to examine. Four sleighs, a four - wheeled wooden cart, a bucket, household implements, tapestries, and garments were also found buried in the ship -grave.
Another burial ship was the Gokstad Ship, which was found at Gokstadhaugen, in Vestfold, Norway. This wonderful ship is 76 feet long and 17 feet wide, and like the Oseberg ship was clinker - built. The ship had 32 oar holes, and it is estimated that it could go about 12 knots. Dendrochronological dating, ( I am starting to like that word ), gives the date of this ship's building at about 890 C.E. The dragon head miraculously survived and was retrieved . The man who was buried there was about 50 - 70 years of age, and had been placed on a bed in a burial chamber. Like the Oseberg ship burial the " riches ", were long gone from this site. They did find, however, 3 small boats, a tent, a sledge, and riding equipment.
The largest excavation of these burial ships was in Peberrenden by Skuldelev. 5 unique ships were found at this site which now are named the Skuldelev ships after the location. The first is a Knarr cargo ship, built from both pine and oak that was made, judging from the wood, in Sweden. It was just 16 feet long. The second is a 30 meter long war ship that could hold 70 -80 warriors. The third is a small byrding type cargo ship made from Danish oak. The fourth is a small Snekke type warship that probably had a crew of about 30. The fifth and final vessel was a small cargo ship, 11 meters long that may have been used as a fishing vessel.
There was only one ship burial found in Denmark, ( so far ), and that is known as the Ladby ship. This ship, which is not in as good of shape as the Oseberg or Gokstad ships, was discovered on the island of Funen. It has been dated to the 10th century by the designs on a dog collar that were excavated from the site. Animal remains were also found at this site, and the dead person( the body had been removed ), was probably buried with his dog, and his horse.
All of the above ships and artifacts that were found at these sites are now in museums throughout Norway and Denmark, and have given us great insight into the historical past of our ancestors lives and deaths. I love to read and study about these burials, but as I said in an earlier article I believe that the remains of our ancestors should be reburied with a Godi or Godia presiding over the ritual.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !