Ancient Viking ship discovered buried next to church using breakthrough georadar technology

A Viking ship believed to be over 1,000 years old has been discovered buried next to a church in Norway

Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) announced they had found the ship, believed to have been used in a traditional ship burial, using “breakthrough” large-scale high-resolution georadar technology.

The remains of the 17m vessel are buried just below the top-soil, at Edøy church on Edøya island in western Norway.

Archaeologists have suggested parts of the structure may have been damaged by ploughing.

The team said at this stage it is too early to date the ship, but they are confident it is from the Merovingian or Viking period, meaning the vessel is more than 1,000 years old.

The remains of a small settlement have also been found. 

The find comes a year after a similar discovery of a burial ship at Gjellestad in southeastern Norway.

Dr Knut Paasche, the head of the department of digital archaeology at NIKU, and an expert on Viking ships, said: “This is incredibly exciting. And again, it’s the technology that helps us find yet another ship. As the technology is making leaps forward, we are learning more and more about our past.”

“We only know of three well-preserved Viking ship burials in Norway, and these were excavated a long time ago. This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance and it will add to our knowledge as it can be investigated with modern means of archaeology,” Dr Paasche said.

Archaeologists Dr Manuel Gabler and Dag-Øyvind Engtrø Solem at NIKU conducted the original surveys at Edøy in September which led to them making the the discovery.

Following a recommendation from local authorities they surveyed a smaller area around Edøy church in September 2018 and reported “promising results”. The area of ​​investigation was then expanded, and they went back in September this year.

“We had actually finished the agreed-upon area, but we had time to spare and decided to do a quick survey over another field. It turned out to be a good decision,” said Dr Gabler. 

The team at NIKU now wants to explore larger parts of Edøy and the surrounding areas.

“We hope to engage in a research project together with local authorities where we can conduct a larger investigation out here with several non-invasive methods of investigation,” said Mr Engtrø Solem.


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