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Langeid grave 8

In 2011 a pre-Christian burial ground from the latter part of the Viking Age was discovered during archaeological excavations at Langeid in the valley of Setesdal. This proved to contain several dozen flat graves. Grave 8 was the most remarkable.

Extraordinary grave - ornate sword, broadaxe and possibly a superstructure (grave 8 - C58882). Illustration: Vegard Vike, Museum of Cultural History, UiO.

A house for the dead

Surrounding the grave were four holes, all of which had held robust poles. These were free-standing, with no indication of a wall from a grave chamber between them. It is hard to explain the posts as anything other than a roof-bearing superstructure.

Coffin and grave goods

Between the posts were the remains of a coffin. Wedged along the outside of the coffin there was an ornate sword on one side, and outside the other a large broadaxe. No human remains where observed within the perimeter of the coffin, but fragments of two silver coins was found as well as tiny pieces of iron and a four-centimetre ball of pitch (possibly birch bark pitch) with fingerprints impressed during its shaping.

The objects from grave 8 - sword, axe, two coin fragments and a large ball of pitch. Photo: Vegard Vike, Museum of Cultural History, UiO.

The dating of the grave

Beyond the typology of weapons the dating of the grave is based on a C14 sample from one of the post holes dated AD 990–1040 (TRa-3791, 1010 ± 30 BP), and also a coin fragment determined to be an Anglo-Saxon penny from Æthelred II, AD 978–1016. Together these seem to point towards a dating of grave 8 at Langeid to the first half of the 11th Century.


Gallery - grave 8

Gallery - Langeid grave 8
By Vegard Vike
Published June 28, 2016 10:48 AM - Last modified May 5, 2021 12:08 PM