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Gjellestad Viking Ship

Updated 14 November 2020

In October 2018, a new Viking ship is discovered in Norway after georadar work on a farm near Halden, Østfold. Shortly after, it is dubbed The Gjellestad or Jellstad ship. It is the first Viking ship found in Norway in over 100 years.

Map of Østfold, Norway. Halden is to the south (Source: Google Maps).

Excavation 2019

By the end of August 2019, archaeologists excavate the site and uncover the ship within a day. The wood in the top layers is poorly preserved, though. A few days later, shovel marks make it clear this ship has already been looted. In the remaining days, a bucket, rivets and planks emerge, and the keel. The wood of the keel is well-preserved. Its shape and form is cause for excitement among the archaeologists as it is unlike other Viking ships they have seen. By, early September 2019 the trench is closed again and all samples are taken for further examination. For more information, see the website of the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo.

In January 2020, the NIKU archaeologists confirm the ship dates between the seventh and ninth century, based on data they retrieved from the wood. See the NIKU web site.

Excavation 2020

On 11 May 2020, NRK, the public broadcaster in Norway, breaks the news that the Norwegian government has made funds available to fully excavate the ship. Archaeologists hope to begin their work by June 2020. See the NRK web site and here.

Both fungus and agriculture are the causes of the ships current swift decline. And archaeologists that the current increasing drought is also adding to the decay which is why they want to move quickly. See Science Norway for more information.

The ongoing excavation is recorded in various (and fascinating) videos available via de Vikingskipshuset’s Facebook page.

Antiquity has the scoop of the first scholarly study about the ship and its surroundings. Especially, the (number of) other burial mounds and building structures lead researchers to believe this was a site of importance.

Learn More

Østfold University College – Must see video with a visual reconstruction of the site.
NIKU – Video about the discovery.
Antiquity – “Gjellestad: a newly discovered ‘central place’ in south-east Norway” by Lars Gustavsen, Per Erik Gjesvold, Sigrid Mannsåker Gundersen et al. doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2020.39 (Open Access).
Smithsonian Magazine – Fine summary of the ongoing excavation and Antiquity article.

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