One of the two boats found in the grave is intact and holds the remains of a man, horse and dog. Personal items including a sword, spear, shield, and an ornate comb were also in the grave.
The people discovered in the grave were likely of high social standing, as it is believed such boat burials were reserved for a privileged few. A spokesperson from consultant archaeologists Arkeologerna called the find “sensational.”
“This is a unique excavation. The last excavation of this grave type in Old Uppsala was almost 50 years ago,” said archaeologist Anton Seiler.
The fact the grave contents are so well-preserved and undisturbed is especially exciting for the team.
That’s because it will be the first opportunity archaeologists have to study Viking burial traditions with modern scientific analysis methods in Sweden.
“We can now use modern science and methods that will generate new results, hypotheses and answers. We will also put the boat burials in relation to the very special area that is Old Uppsala and the excavations done here before,” said Seiler.
A routine excavation
Such a find was not at all what archaeologists were expecting at the beginning of the project. Old Uppsala was an important religious, economic and political settlement as far back as the 3rd century, and is an area rich in historic remains.
The routine dig began on the grounds of the vicarage last fall. The work involved excavating a cellar and well that was known to date from the Middle Ages.
But as the work progressed, one of the boats was gradually revealed beneath the structures. The scope of the project quickly changed, and archaeologists have spent the last month excavating the two burial boats.