Kristofer Hivjy acting as Tormund Giantsbane © HBO

The Gjellestad Excavation of a Viking ship Live Streamed

Last week, the Gjellestad excavation of a Viking ship was live streamed by Norwegian Broadcasting Coporation

Glass Pearl from Gjellestad © UiO/Margrethe K. H. Havgar
Glass Pearl from Gjellestad © UiO/Margrethe K. H. Havgar

NBC – The Norwegian Broadcasting Coporation – is famous for its peaceful broadcasting of live transmissions of trains running through the Norwegian mountains and ferries sailing along the coast from Oslo to Kirkeby. Last week, the success was repeated at Gjellestad, where a team of archaeologists is currently excavating a Viking boat hidden in a mound more than a thousand years ago. Simply, the excavation was live-stremed for five days in a row.

So-far, the results of the excavation have been:

  • The burned remains of a large – as yet – undefined animal. The archaeologists expect it is either a horse or a cow. This find was discovered during the live streaming.
  • A round and heavy item, perhaps a bucket, still buried in earth to protect the find before excavating it in a laboratory.
  • A glass pearl, imported and valuable.
  • Iron nails used to build the ship
  • Funeral ditch. Probably the ditch was dug around the ship to mark out in the terrain, where the burial should take place. The ship was placed on a “scene” with the coffin probably placed inside a burial chamber or hut. The archaeologists are excited about this part of the excavation as it reveals the setting for the burial ritual. Recent studies of the mound, which held the Gokstad Ship adds context

Was the Gjellestad ship, a rowboat or a sailing ship? So far the jury is out. The keel of the ship was smaller and thinner than that of the Gokstad ship. This may indicate it was a rowing ship.

Unfortunately, the excavation has revealed that in itself the ship is in a bad condition. Probably, the results will have more of a scientific value than leading to an exhibition akin to that at Bygdoy. This has led some politicians from the far right question the cost of the archaeological excavation, which has been funded by the state to the tune of $2.5 million.

Recently, however, Kristofer Hivjy aka Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones visited the excavation and took part as a guest. It appears, the politicians have not counted the income expected to be harvested from the international interest after the corona-crisis has passed.


NRK – Alltid Viking


Constructing and deconstructing the Gokstad mound
By Rebecca J.S. Cannell, Jan Bill and Richard Macphail
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 2020, pp. 1278-1295
Print publication: October 2020





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