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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.


Wenn, Camilla. Glørstad, Z. Loftsgarden, K. (2016) Rapport arkeologisk utgravning Rv.9 Krokå - Langeid, del II: gravfelt fra vikingtid. (Langeid excavation report, part II. Grave 8: page 42-54).

Stylegar, Frans-Arne (2006) En vikingtidsgravplass på Senum i Setesdal.

Løken, Trond (1971) Dødehus over vikingtids flatmarksgraver. Nicolay nr 9, s.17-21.

Magnussen, Jens Peder (2013) Den gløymte gravskikk? ein diskusjon til dødshusgravskikken i jernalderen (master's thesis).

Gallery - grave 8

Gallery - Langeid grave 8

Objects from Langeid grave 8 - Museum of Cultural History
  • the-ornate-sword-from-langeid-1_740px_c58882_3_langeid The ornate sword from Langeid Sep. 21, 2017 2:57 PM

    Mystical signs inlaid with gold bedeck the magnificent hilt of the Langeid sword – a Viking weapon infused with Christian symbolism and laid in a pre-Christian grave while the new faith was conquering the last regions of Norway.

  • the-langeid-broadaxe-1_740px_cf34533_782_mod The Langeid broadaxe Feb. 21, 2017 3:44 PM

    In the latter part of the Viking Age, a type of axe intended for use only in battle was developed. Streamlined and elegant, but at the same time a powerful lethal weapon. The broadaxe was a weapon to rival the sword as the foremost symbol of a warrior.

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By Vegard Vike
Published June 28, 2016 10:48 AM - Last modified Mar. 24, 2020 2:25 PM