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The Tune finds

The Tune ship was found in 1867 on the farm of Nedre Haugen on the island of Rolvsøy, near Fredrikstad. It was the first Viking ship to be excavated and is still one of the best preserved Viking ships in the world.

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Drawing of the Tune ship from 1868.  Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.

A large burial mound

The burial mound in which the Tune ship lay was unusually large: approximately 80 metres in diameter and around four metres high, making it one of Norway’s largest burial mounds. In the years prior to the excavation, much of the earth in the mound had been removed for use elsewhere. Moreover, the mound had been opened and partly excavated previously. This meant that oxygen had been introduced, which was instrumental in the decomposing of the ship in the mound.    

Heavy-handed excavation

The Tune ship was excavated at a time when modern archaeology had not yet taken form. The ship was removed from the grave roughly and quickly. As a result the man interred in the ship and most of the items that followed him to the grave were either damaged or lost.

Professor Oluf Rygh was in charge of the excavation, which only lasted about two weeks. Due to the speed of the work, the ship was excavated in a very heavy-handed manner. For example, there are marks in several places on the ship from the spades that were used.

Transport to the capital

To remove the ship from the burial mound, a wooden frame was fastened to the underside of the ship. Horses were harnessed to the frame, and the ship was pulled out of the burial mound and transported to a nearby river. Here the ship was moved onto a barge and floated downstream to the fjord, and on to the capital.

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Published Mar. 20, 2020 11:42 AM - Last modified Mar. 20, 2020 11:49 AM