Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Viking boat burial site uncovered

Dr Hannah Cobb looks at a thousand-year-old Viking sword, found in the Scottish Highlands

A Viking boat burial site has been discovered by archaeologists working in the Scottish Highlands.

The five metre-long grave contained the remains of a high-status Viking who was buried with an axe, sword and spear.

The area, on the west coast's remote Ardnamurchan peninsula, is the first intact boat burial site to be uncovered on the UK mainland and is thought to be 1,000 years old.

A ship with around 200 metal rivets was used to bury the Viking at the site which has now been fully excavated.

Experts from the universities of Manchester and Leicester, as well as from Archaeology Scotland and cultural heritage organisation CFA Archaeology, also found a shield boss and bronze ring-pin buried with the Viking. A knife, a whetstone from Norway, a ring-pin from Ireland and Viking pottery were also found.

Dozens of pieces of iron yet to be identified by the team were also discovered.

Hannah Cobb, co-director of the project, has been excavating artefacts in the area over the past six years and said the boat burial was an "exciting find". She added that Colleen Batey, a Viking specialist from the University of Glasgow, has said the boat is likely to be from around 1000AD.

Oliver Harris, project co-director from the University of Leicester, said: "This project examines social change on the Ardnamurchan peninsula from the first farmers 6,000 years ago to the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th century.

"In previous seasons our work has examined evidence of changing beliefs and lifestyles in the area, through a study of burial practices in the Neolithic and Bronze age periods 6,000 to 4,500 years ago and 4,500 to 2,800 years ago respectively. It has also yielded evidence for what will be one of the best-dated Neolithic chambered cairns in Scotland when all of our post excavation work is complete."

Dr Harris added: "But the find we reveal today has got to be the icing on the cake."

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