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25.11.2020

Gokstad Mound, Sandefjord

Gokstad Kurgan is a large mound on a Gokstad farm in Sandefjord in Westfall County, Norway. It is also known as the Royal Mound (Kongshaugen), and it was here that the ship Gokstadd 9th century was found.

The mound was excavated by Nicolay Nicolaysen in 1880. The ship Gokstad was built around 890 and was laid in the mound about ten years later. It consists mainly of oak and is 23.8 meters long (78 feet) and 5.2 meters wide (17 feet). It had 16 pairs of weights, and its maximum speed is estimated at twelve knots. The Gokstad ship is now in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.

Together with the ship was buried the small king, long considered Olaf Geirstad-Alf, half brother of Halvdan Black. However, recent discoveries have increased uncertainty, and therefore it remains unknown which leader was buried on the mound.

Gokstadhaugen was described as one of the best archaeological finds in Norway. In January 2014, the Government of Norway requested UNESCO to make the mound Gokstadhaugen a World Heritage Site.

In 1880, the hill was 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter and 5 meters (16.4 feet) high. Water level in the ocean was much higher in the Viking Age, when the level of the ocean was almost 4 meters (13 feet) higher than today. Consequently, it is assumed that the ship was buried near the sea.

Artefacts found in the grave include a play board with horn counters, fishing hooks, harness fittings (made of lead, iron and gilded bronze), 64 shields, kitchen utensils, six beds, a sled, and three smaller boats. Also in the grave were found two peacocks, two goshawks, eight dogs and twelve horses.

The burial chamber was covered with layers of birch bark, and the remains of silk intertwined with gold thread were found by archaeologists stuck between the logs in the roof. These may be the remnants of a luxurious woven tapestry that decorated the interior walls.

Dendrochronological research proves that the ship was built between 885-892 AD. The burial chamber dates back to 895-903. Our era.

It is estimated that the buried chief was 181-183 cm tall (5 feet 9 inches - 6 feet 0 inches) and was killed about 40 years during the battle.

The ship was discovered in 1879 and was excavated by Nicolay Nicolaysen between April and June 1880. The burial mound was closed and the ataman's knuckles were returned to the burial site on 16 June 1928. The joints were placed in a sarcophagus and King Håkon VII attended the official opening of the restored mound on 29 July 1929. The sarcophagus was removed from the tomb by archaeologists in 2007 and is now kept at the University of Oslo (UiO).

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