16:09 GMT03 December 2020
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    Despite Norwegians' history as intrepid seafarers and skillful mariners, only three Viking ships have ever been unearthed. Another one is reportedly resting near a highway only half a meter below the ground, making it the fourth find of its kind and the first in over a century.

    The remains of a Viking ship have been discovered on a farm next to the busy E6 freeway near the town of Halden in southeast Norway, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) reported.

    Alongside the ship, eight burial mounds and five Iron Age homes known as "longhouses" were unearthed using a motorized georadar.

    ​The ship was discovered just about 50 centimeters below the surface of private territory in Jellstad, Østfold county. A NIKU spokesman lauded the landowner for being "helpful and patient."

    The objects haven't been dated yet, but NIKU experts stressed that the burial ritual when prominent leaders were committed to the earth using their own ships was common throughout the younger Iron Age, that is, between 500 and 1030.

    "It's a wonderful find and a very rare one," Østfold county conservator Morten Hanisch told national broadcaster NRK, calling it a "world sensation."

    ​The last time a Viking ship was found in Norway was in 1904. That ship, known as the Øseberg ship, is on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo alongside the Gøkstad ship and the Tune Ship. The fate of the fourth one, already dubbed the Jellstad ship, is yet to be sealed.

    Although digital data visualizations revealed a large and well-defined 20 meter-long ship-shaped structure, its state of preservation remains to be seen. Further non-invasive investigations are planned which will digitally map the unique find and the wider landscape. NIKU sources said much more work remains before a decision will be made on what to do next. With winter around the corner, excavations are not possible in the near term.

    Jellstad has long been known to researchers as a burial site. In 2015, a 1,500-year-old piece of jewelry was found in the area.


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    vikings, archeology, history, Scandinavia, Norway
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