The boat burial dates to a time period of high Viking activity. At the time, Vikings were carrying out raids, expanding their presence, and exploring new countries.

The grave was uncovered during a ground radar survey that took place prior to road construction. During the process, radio waves are sent underground, where they bounce off objects. Based on that, researchers create a map of the underground structures, such as the boat burial in question.

Jani Causevic, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), conducted the radar survey. He says it uncovered a boat between 8 and 9 meters long.

"This is incredibly exciting. Both to find such a discovery, but also to see how the use of radar gives us the opportunity to explore and document cultural history through new and exciting methods," Causevic said.

Remains of royalty?

No excavation has been carried out so far, so little is known about the details of the boat. Still, Causevic points out that elite members of society at the time were often buried in such structures, according to Live Science.

He added that the boat burial could have held one or multiple people. Unfortunately, the boat could have decayed during the time it spent underground.

"The soil in the area is not preferable for the conservation of organic materials, and most likely, only the nails and other metallic objects remain.

"The boat appears to have been cut into the ground before a burial mound was thrown over it," Causevic explained.

The radar surveys have also uncovered a number of burial mounds. Photo: Jani Causevic / NIKU

Special Viking Age burial custom

Frans-Arne Hedlund Stylegar, an archaeologist working on the excavation, stated that boat graves represent a special burial custom linked to the Viking Age.

"The boat graves represent a special burial custom that existed in the Viking Age in many coastal settlements, both in and outside Norway's borders," Stylegar told Live Science, adding that "some of the richest Viking Age burials in this part of Scandinavia are boat burials."

The radar survey also detected multiple burial mounds that could be even older than the boat grave, Causevic added.

The boat burial "could have been constructed at the same time as the rest of the mounds, or at a later date. (Possibly) to show a continuation of control over the area," Causevic concluded.

The georadar research takes place within the project "Archeology on new roads," which is managed by the National Heritage Board and Nye Veier AS. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) has been responsible for the study, which is part of the preparatory work for the new E39 through Kvinesdal.

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