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Stunned Couple Finds Viking Buried Under Floor While Renovating Home

Ian Harvey
Where the Viking burial was found. (Nordland County Council)

A Norwegian couple renovating their house found a Viking burial under their floor. In a country as old as Norway, with a history steeped in the Vikings, construction sometimes reveals not just outdated decor, but rare, important archaeological finds.

It happened earlier this year when a rare Roman coin was found on Donner Island, and it happened again recently, near the northern Norwegian town of Bodo. A house built in 1914 has turned out to have been constructed on a significant Viking burial site, much to the shock of the couple for whom it is a family home, and who were getting ready to pull up the wood floors to lay insulation. The remodeling has instead become an archaeological excavation of a ninth century Viking burial ground.

When the couple who own the home first began renovating, they discovered a small glass object they mistakenly assumed was a wheel belonging to a child’s toy truck or car. Shortly after making that discovery, they found an iron axe head and other ancient artifacts, and realized they had stumbled upon something that was more than simply the old foundation beneath the wooden floor planks.

They contacted local authorities immediately, who in turn contacted the Tromso Museum. Experts there examined the find, and began removing the antiquities in order to more closely examine them. As the dig continued, they found human bones, an iron arrowhead, and other valuable treasures dating to the Viking Age, which is 800 — 1100 A.D. Those objects and others found are now being examined by historians and archaeologists at the University of Tromso. At the time of this writing, the site’s excavation is still ongoing.

Viking site Orkney Islands

Archaeologists and volunteers are working to preserve Viking bones exposed by recent storms in an ancient cemetery above a beach on the Orkney Islands.
(Image: © ORCA Archaeology)

Although Viking burial sites are sometimes found accidentally during other construction projects in Norway, this particular one is unique, experts say. Jorn Erik Henriksen, who is an archaeologist at the university, told the media that he has seen Viking burial cairns before, but not one like this. “This is the first time,” Henriksen explained, “I have experienced something like this (that appeared) under a house.”

Viking ship burial

Imprint of a Viking ship burial. (The Archaeologists/State History Museums)

Providing the artifacts are confirmed as antiquities, the site can be fully excavated under a Norway law that mandates that any site that has evidence of human activity prior to 1537 must be explored and preserved. A cairn is a grave marker, of sorts, a collection of stones or other paraphernalia that were laid by those burying someone in order to signal the place where the individual lay. Cairns were a precursor to the stone tablets or monuments many cultures use today in cemeteries.

Jorvik viking center

Excavatin at Jorvik Viking Center. Picture by foundin_a_attic CC by 2.0

Other artifacts belonging to the Viking Age have been found in many places in Norway, including pieces of a Roman board game that were found last year north of Bergen. Similar pieces were found on Lindisfarne as well, which is off the coast of northeast England. That is the location of one of the earliest Viking raids scholars know of.

Until the excavation is complete and archaeologists are certain they’ve collected all the artifacts under the house, the couple has gladly given control of it over to experts. After all, it’s not everybody who can say their home is the site of an important historical and archaeological find, and theirs certainly qualifies.

Related Article: Ancient Viking Cemetery Exposed by Powerful Storm

Viking history and lore is a huge part of Norway’s culture, and having one’s home atop a part of that history would offer bragging rights, if not a boost in price when it comes time to sell. Even if it is a burial site, the fact that Viking ancestors once stood on the same ground where the home was built is no doubt a point of enormous pride. And who knows, maybe the next time you tear out your floor you’ll find a Viking under it!