A compilation of various ship finds, their contents, and various other items of interest


The first four are the best documented and most well known. I'd like to included many things found on the ships and interesting tid bits but ive started to run out of room on my website. So ive had to limit what is presented her but can happily say that most of what I have deleted can be found on the pages that are referenced in that section. The links to other sites that have much more information- Halvgrimr


Dated to: 830ish AD, Dimensions: 21.58 meters (ca. 70½ feet) long and 5.1 meters (ca. 16.7 feet) in the beam amidships. Depth from gunnel to keel is only 1.58 meters (ca. 5.2 feet), Excavated: in 1903 at Slagen in Vestfold County, Norway

The Oseberg find is the richest Viking grave find ever to be revealed in the entire world.  Modern three-ring dating has later yielded 834 AD as the year of the burial, or rather the year they cut down the lumber they used in the construction of the burial chamber, but the ship and the items found along it are likely somewhat older than that. PhD Arne Emil Christensen, perhaps the greatest author of all in early shipbuilding techniques in Scandinavia, says the ship was likely built in approximately 815-820 AD. For hundreds of years had this mound been hiding a treasure not ever since equaled in either luxury or significance from this time period. It kept an oaken ship fully laden with a four wheel cart, four sledges, horse gear, chests, textiles, tools and equipment for agriculture and needlework, a tent, beds, as well as much more.

Oseberg is neither a freight ship or a warship, but a private yacht made for coastal cruising. This doesn't mean that the ship wasn't seaworthy at open sea, but merely that this wasn't the main purpose with the ship when they built it. It is obviously made for someone very important, because the profile and decorations are surely meant to show off. We classify the ship as a karfi, a kind of Viking age yacht.

Two skeletons were also found onboard the ship, both females. Because of the richness of the find, one has to believe one of them must have been a queen. The elder one was of a woman in her fifties-sixties and the younger of a woman in her twenties-thirties.

Some believe that the elder woman could be Queen Åsa of Agder, the famous wife of King Gudrød Veidekonge (the Noble King) and the grandmother of King Harold Fairhair. This is actually possible, because she must have died in about that time the burial chamber was built. However, this is of course only speculations. Nonetheless, the burial chamber has been dated to 834 AD, by the use of tree-ring dating technique (dendrochronlogy). Both skeletons also underwent close examinations, which showed that the elder woman had suffered from rheumatism, something that corresponded well to shoes they found onboard the ship.

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Viking Ship Museum

Der "Buddha" von Oseberg

Medieval Scandinavia

The Oseberg Cart


Dated to: 890 AD, Dimensions: 79 feet overall, and roughly the same beam at 16.9 feet, but deeper at 6.9 feet amidships, Excavated: in 1880 from large burial mound at Gokstad farm in Sandar, Vestfold

 The ship had been built around 890 A.D. and later used in the ship burial of a powerful chieftain who died in or around 900 A.D. The dead man, a powerfully built man in his 60s, lay in his bed in a timber burial chamber (displayed in the Tune wing of the Museum). It is probably a Karve. Probably the tomb of the Westfold king Olav Gierstada. She is slightly longer than the Oseberg ship at 79 feet overall,  The Gokstad ship, although not as luxuriously outfitted as the Oseberg ship, was by far the more seaworthy of the two. Just how seaworthy it had been, was demonstrated the first time when a copy of the Gokstad ship sailed the Atlantic from Bergen to the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. 

Also found onboard were 3 other smaller boats. The largest of the three boats found was 9.75 meters in length. This boat has most likely been a fjord or fishing boat used along the coastal areas. This boat is rowed with 6 oars and is called a seksring. The smallest of the boats found in the Gokstad mound measures 6.60 meters in length. This small rowing boat was most likely the ship's boat, to be used when the ship lay in anchor or for use on long voyages. A boat such as this, that can be rowed with 4 oars is often known as a færing.

The skeleton found was  male between 50 and 70 years of age. He had been about 1.85 metres tall which was way above the average height of a man during this period. By the side of the skeleton were fragments of wool and silk that are presumed to have been the dead mans clothing. Fragments of wood found are believed to have been part of a bed. He also had with him three fish hooks and a two sided board game made of oak with a playing piece made of horn, it is similar to a game called  Mølle. Also aboard were a tent, a sledge and riding equipment. Horses' harnesses  were also found in the grave. One item known as the 'horseman roundel' was found which is an ornament of bronze displaying a horseman.   The remains of a Peacock were found in the grave. It was a surprise to find the remains of such an exotic bird. Peacocks are natives of India and Sri Lanka and our first knowledge of the bird dates back to the expedition of Alexander the Great to India where they were served at dinner parties of the Kings and Emperors. The birds must have been taken to Europe during the Viking period and the one found at Gokstad is the oldest one  found in Northern Europe.  Did the Chieftain of Gokstad have the peacock with him to the after life as a meal or as a status symbol? We can only guess the answer

The Chieftain also had with him six cups and a plate made of wood. In front of the mast the remains of 3 smaller boats, several beds and equipment for a sledge were found.  A large cask was also found with a volume of 750 litres for holding the ship's water supply. Two pairs of verge boards belonging to a tent and kitchen utensils such as a chopping board, an oblong wooden bowl and a large bronze pot were also found. Outside the ship the remains of 12 horses and 6 dogs were found.  Maybe the chieftain was to use them for hunting in the afterlife.

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Viking Ship Museum


Sutton Hoo-

Dated to: 620ish, Dimensions: 27 m long and 4.5 m wide at its widest spot (about 85 feet by 15 feet), Excavated: in 1939 in Sussex

In about 625 a King of East Anglia, possibly King Raedwald, was buried near the present-day village of Sutton Hoo. His tomb was a large wooden ship 27 m long and 4.5 m wide at its widest spot (about 85 feet by 15 feet). The ship had been sailed upriver and then dragged overland and then into a pit dug at the burial spot. The ship was then covered with a large mound of soil.

Elaborate burial goods included coins, weapons, armor, which miraculously escaped grave robbers. All organic goods, including the corpse (if one was interred there at all), disintegrated in the acidic soil.

The ship lay undisturbed by human hands until 1939. Initial excavations showed that the site likely contained a wealth of ancient treasure. An official "coroner's treasure trove inquest" awarded the contents of the grave to the property owner, Mrs. Edith Pretty, who in turn donated them to the British Museum. Between 1965 and 1970 the British Museum excavated the site, and its contents comprise one the Museum's most impressive exhibits of Anglo-Saxon artifacts

Many other interesting items were found aboard the ship like spear ferrules, a bronze hanging bowl, an iron stand, a shield boss, a stone sceptre, the iron rings of two buckets, two silver bowls, various clasps, a selection of spear heads, drinking horn adornments, a pottery bottle, an iron lamp, various silver plates, segments of a mail coat, three cauldrons, cauldron suspension Ironwork

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Sutton Hoo: Burial-Ground of the Wuffings

Sutton Hoo 1066

Sutton Who?An Anglo Saxon Ship Burial

Sutton Hoo Society

The Ship Burial at Sutton Hoo

Welcome to the Sutton Hoo Room

The Sutton Hoo Recreated



Dated to: 9th-10th century, Dimensions: 67.5 feet by 9.5 feet with a finer length to beam ratio of 1:7, Excavated: from 1934 to 1937 near Kerteminde on Funen in Denmark

The ship-grave from Ladby was excavated by G. Rosenberg, conservator, and P. Helweg Mikkelsen, pharmacist, in 1934-1937, and their drawings today constitute the primary source-material for information on the find, no body but removal from a heathen to a Christian grave is a possibility. 

The grave-goods are throughout of high quality, and this, together with the categories of object represented, suggests that the buried person had had high social status. The textiles are generally of fine quality, and some of the pieces of clothing have been decorated with fringes and pendant ornaments in gold and silver thread. Among the personal belongings of the dead person were a knife with a silver-clad shaft and a large gilt silver belt-buckle of Carolingian origin, which probably belonged to a sword-clasp. In addition there were four or five sets of differently shaped riding equipment which had been decorated with inlays of tin, silver and lead, with the harness for a team of four hunting dogs. The object which Thorvildsen thought was a whip may, on the basis of other archaeological finds and depictions of similar pieces, be better interpreted as a staff used as a symbol of power and worth. A similar symbolic content can be attributed to the find's only preserved spur, and it seems reasonable to suppose that the dead person was laid in the grave with his spurs on. The grave also held the remains of a distinguished table service consisting of a gilt silver plate, one or perhaps two bronze dishes, at least two buckets and a little knife-set, decorated in gold and silver, in a wooden case. This category of object also testifies to the fact that the dead person belonged to the ranks of the highest people in society at that time.  Evidence of the shield-boss, a spur and a bunch of arrows there can be no doubt that the buried person was a man, and the investigation of the extremely limited bone material showed that the ship-grave was constructed, as far as can be judged, for one person, in the age-range 20 to 50. 


NOT a sea going vessel, it lay in a north-south direction with the bow to the south, 11 horses were sacrificed, large iron anchor, 4 dogs,



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Ladbyskibet / The Ladby Ship

The Ship Grave from Ladby

Viking Ships



Dated to: around 900 A.D, Dimensions: about 20 metres in length, Excavated: 1867

The Tune ship, from a large mound at Haugen farm at Rolvsøy in Østfold, was excavated in 1867. It was built at about the same time as the Gokstad ship, around 900 A.D. It was later used as a burial ship for a powerful chieftain. The burial furnishings are not preserved, but the dead man was also placed in a timber burial chamber. The ship itself was badly damaged. It is displayed in the museum in such a way as to show the construction details of ship building in Viking times. The ship is clinker built with overlapping strakes, while the ribs are fastened to the hull in cleats carved out of the strakes

It was robbed earlier of nearly all its items, but enough remained for us to see that the ship was originally of the same fine quality as the Oseberg and the Gokstad.

Probably carried a man?

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Viking Ship Museum


Hedeby (aka Haithabu)

A seismic survey in the Haithabu harbour was carried out in the years 1979-81 with a "pinger", an echo sounder which is capable of detecting objects lying embedded in sediment. With this equipment even objects as swords and axes were found, but also wooden objects such as poles and parts of wrecks. Two more wrecks were also detected; wreck 2 which was rather fragmentary and wreck 3, a large cargo ship.


Haithabu 1  

Dated to: 985 AD, Dimensions: 26 and 32 metres long, Excavated:1979

-The Haithabu 1 wreck was excavated in 1979. A cofferdam of 22 by 8 metres was built around it, and a 10 metre wide extension of this ran onto the shore. A full scale model of the fore part of the wreck is on display in the Wikinger Museum Haithabu. The ship was built and maintained to the highest standards, but were of some age when it was filled with hay or brushwood and deliberately set on fire in an attack on Haithabu. This probably happened between 990 and 1010 AD.


Haithabu 3

Dated to: 1025ish, Dimensions: 22.08 m, a width of 6.2 m and a height of 2.52 m. The cargo capacity would have been about 60 tons, Excavated: ?

Built within the Scandinavian clinker tradition this ship must have been among the largest cargo carriers of the time. Its closest parallel example is the Skuldelev 1 wreck which is considerably smaller, and both of these ships have been capable of ocean voyages. Some of the timbers show damage in the bow that must have happened in antiquity, and it is believed that the ship was smashed against a group of pilings during a storm. This probably would only have happened if the ship was laid up for an extended period of time.

Several dendro-samples have been cut which suggest that the ship was built around 1025, from trees felled in the Schleswig region.

Today the have been conserved and are on display at the Wikinger Museum Haithabu.

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Hedeby's ships and the warriors' trade

Haithabu (Hedeby) 1

Haithabu (Hedeby) 3

The Nydam Boat

Dated to: 4th century, Dimensions: about 20 metres in length, Excavated: 1859-1864

The excavation of the Nydam find was undertaken in the years 1859, 1863 and 1864. The first ship was found in August 1863. Remnants of these 4th-century vessel were discovered  in the Nydam Marsh near Schleswig, Germany (or, in the Viking era, near Hedeby, Denmark). The first ship was found in August 1863, and consisted of parts of an oak ship which had been cut to pieces and scattered on the lake. Only a few days later the complete Nydam Oak Ship came to light.  The head of the excavation Conrad Engelhardt reported that the parts had come completely apart and lay straightened out in one layer. During this work a third ship was found lying alongside the Oak Ship, namely the "Nydam Pine Ship", which when found was also complete. Because of the outbreak of the war between Denmark and Prussia in 1864 the excavations had to be cancelled, and the timbers of the Pine Ship were lost in the turmoil. The big oak boat from the 1863 Nydam excavation,  is now exhibited in Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig.

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Measuring the Nydam Boat

Viking Ships homepage

The Nydam Ship

more on The Nydam Ship



Dated to: ?, Dimensions: ?, Excavated: 1852

At Borre in Vestfold, there is a group of large burial mounds from Viking and earlier times. Fragments of a ship burial were found in one of these mounds in 1852. Preservation conditions were very poor and the ships nails are all that remains of the ship itself. Very little of this rich find has been preserved. Some of the artifacts are displayed in the artifact wing of the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway are a beautifully decorated bridal mount of bronze, fragments of sledge shafts and a glass beaker, which must have been more than 100 years old when it was put in the grave. This burial must have been as richly furnished as those of Oseberg and Gokstad.

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Viking Ship Museum


Dated to: ?, Dimensions: Varied, Excavated started: 1997?

During the construction of the new Museum Island at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, 9 ships from the late Viking Age and Early Middle Ages were discovered. One of them was a very long warship which was found in February 1997, when the canal which surrounds the Museum Island was dug. On that occasion the wreck was cut through by the machine, and it was also cut by the sheet piling that forms the canal. Shown here is a replica that was built of one of the ships.

The ship later turned out to be the longest viking ship yet discovered, originally 36 m long, and could have had a crew of around 100 men. Both timbers and craftmanship were of the highest quality.

In about the year 1000 the inhabitants of Roskilde scuttled five ships in the narrow mouth of their fjord, in an attempt to barricade themselves against attacks by their fellow Vikings. The cold water preserved the sunken ships until our own era. They have now been raised and are on display at the Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde. These historic wrecks have also served as patterns for modern shipwrights attempting to duplicate the successes of Viking ship makers and sailors.


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The Roskilde ships

More on the Roskilde Ships!

The BIGGEST longship find to date!

The Skuldelev find

Dated to: ,1070-1090ish AD Dimensions: Varied, Excavation Started: 1924

The excavation of the Skuldelev ships marked the start of maritime archaeology in Denmark. The blockage in the Roskilde Fjord had been known by local fishermen for some time, and in 1924 they recovered the keelson from what later became known as Skuldelev 1, and this find was reported to the National Museum of Denmark. In 1956 sports divers recovered a piece of framing which was handed over to the museum, and this in turn led to the large-scale excavation project.

The blockage is situated about halfway down the more than 40 km deep fjord that cuts into the island of Sealand in a North-South direction at a place where the depth is particularly shallow. This was to prevent enemy ships from attacking the town of Roskilde. Here the natural passage Peberrenden was blocked by the sinking of three ships filled with stones. Apart from wreck 1 the large cargo ship, wreck 3 a smaller cargo ship and wreck 5 a warship of medium size was sunk. This took place in the years 1070-1090 AD. Some years later in 1100-1140 AD two more ships were sunk to renew or reinforce the blockage: a very large warship initially believed to be two wrecks thus dubbed wreck 2/4 and a smaller vessel wreck 6. All ships were stripped from any rigging and equipment before they were positioned in the Peberrenden passage and filled with stones.

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Skuldelev 1

Skuldelev 2/4

Skuldelev 3

Skuldelev 5

Skuldelev 6


The Hjortspring Boat

Dated to: the Bronze Age, Dimensions: Varied, Excavation Started: ?

The Hjortspring Boat is an early Scandinavian example of a plank built vessel. It is firmly dated within the Early Iron Age, but its resemblance with the abundant rock carvings and bronze ornaments depicting ships from the Scandinavian Bronze Age shows how these should be interpreted - as plank built light boats propelled by paddles. The boat is part of a war-spoil deposition in what is today a peat bog, but in antiquity was a lake. Being the oldest plank built vessel in Scandinavia, the Hjortspring Boat offers clues to the solution of some of the basic problems in the ship archeology of the region. 

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The Hjortspring Boat


Årby Gård

Dated to: early 900's, Dimensions: Length (loa)=395cm,  Width (beam)= 105 cm, Excavated: 1938

 This Viking canoe (the only one found or known of as yet!) is from Årby Gård  - that could be literally translated and pronounced Orby Farm in english, and is located near Rasbo-Kil, just east of Uppsala and north of Stockholm in the heart of eastern Sweden's Viking country. 

The boat grave  was accidentally uncovered in modern times - a summer in 1938 - in connection with some drainage pipe installations in the fields there and is dated to the early 900's.

This boat also occupies a very interesting place in marine archeological history as it's shape and structure bear a certain influence from another ethnic population, that of the reindeer orientated Laplanders or more properly called Samara.

Some head scratching has commenced as to why a obviously prominent person of high standing in the community would be buried without weapons until some one came up with the idea that it could be a woman! Still today some reports only mention this as a possibility.  

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A Viking Canoe