It’s spring 2018, and archaeologists are exploring the area around a 30-foot-high Viking-era mound southeast of Norway’s capital, Oslo. Rather than digging, the team are using georadar technology. But even so, they have little hope of finding anything of significance, as farmers have worked the land for generations. The researchers’ pessimism soon turns to elation, though, when they discover the astonishingly well-preserved remains of a buried Viking ship.
Before we describe in detail the discovery that the archaeologists made that day, it’s worth recalling who the Vikings were. These seafaring people sailed from the Scandinavian countries from the late 700s to around 1066. And as is well known, they had a formidable reputation as raiders of European coastal settlements. In fact, the name Viking has its roots in the Old English word “wicing,” meaning pirate.
Viking seamanship was, it’s worth noting, of the highest order. The Vikings’ mastery of sailing in their distinctive longships and their incredible knowledge of navigation enabled them to explore far and wide. Some reached North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. And the famous Viking Leif Ericson and his men even made it to far-flung Newfoundland, Canada.