19 Oct 2011

Viking boat burial site discovered in Scottish Highlands

A Viking boat burial site has been discovered by archaeologists in the Scottish Highlands, who call the find “one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain”.

The 5m-long grave contained the remains of a high-ranking Viking who was buried with an axe, sword and spear.

The area, on the west coast’s 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.

Viking site - Getty

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”.

Dr Cobb said: “Though we have excavated many important artefacts over the years, I think it’s fair to say that this year the archaeology has really exceeded our expectations.

“A Viking boat burial is an incredible discovery but in addition to that, the artefacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain.”

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.”