The elevated status of the women in the Oseberg grave was underlined by their means of transport – not only did they have a beautiful cart but also three splendid sleighs.
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The sleighs are composed of different types of wood
The sleighs consist of a loose frame fastened to the undercarriage by rope or osier lashings. They were pulled by two horses harnessed to the opposite sides of a shaft. A wearing runner that could easily be replaced when it was worn out was fastened underneath the runners proper.
The sleighs were made for pageantry and appearances were important
The sleighs were richly carved and even a highly skilled woodcarver would have spent a long time on the carvings. Afterwards the sleigh was painted in strong colours so that the carvings emerged more clearly. One of the sleighs had a black pattern on a red background, and tinplated nails also formed part of the decoration. The colours were clearly visible when the sleighs were excavated but were difficult to preserve and cannot be seen today.
Saving Oseberg is a project that documents the wooden artefacts from the Oseberg find and investigates possible conservation strategies to re-treat and preserve this iconic heritage for the future. Read more about Saving Oseberg.