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Thread: Uncovering the Secrets of a Forgotten Viking Town

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    Uncovering the Secrets of a Forgotten Viking Town

    An inland Viking settlement along a lake 300 miles northwest of Oslo.

    Uncovering the Secrets of a Forgotten Viking Town

    THREE HUNDRED MILES NORTHWEST OF Oslo, Norway, nestled between replicas of medieval turf homes and 19th-century farmhouses at the sleepy Sunnmøre Museum, is a meadow. With impressive mountains and a crystalline lake in the distance, many wouldn’t even notice the blanket of grasses. But this meadow has secrets to tell.

    Beneath the undulating greenery and centuries of mud are the remains of the lost town of Borgund. Beginning in the late 10th century, this meadow would have been alive with activity. During the town’s heyday, boatbuilders would have been busy crafting majestic ships, while traders hawked their wares. Children playing along wooden sidewalks might have been overheard by weavers crafting massive sail cloths within their small wooden houses. For most of us, it’s hard to picture life in this town entombed in dirt—that’s where the Borgund Project comes in.


    The Borgund Project brings together an international team of historians, archaeologists, geologists, and others to tell Borgund’s story. History has long overlooked the lives of ordinary people—craftspeople, laborers, women, and children. The Borgund Project has set out to change that. “We really don’t know that much about ordinary people’s ordinary lives in other places than the big towns,” explains archaeologist Gitte Hansen, who manages the project.




    Very little is known about Borgund today. During the Middle Ages, Norway only had 16 towns; Borgund was one of the smaller communities. Textual sources only mention the town offhandedly; “there [was] not much drama in Borgund” for chroniclers to report, says Hansen. “We have very few written sources relating to the Viking Age and the Middle Ages in this part of Europe, and when we hear about places in the written sources, it’s usually because the king was killed.” While no royalty was killed in Borgund, in the late 14th century the king of Norway did mention the town in a decree, ordering local farmers to again use Borgund as a trading center, suggesting that trade had declined there. “There’s a downfall after the 1380s according to the written sources, and this is one of the things we tried to find out,” says Hansen. “Can we trust that there was hardly any activity after the late 14th-century or were there still things going on?”
    Larger Viking and medieval towns eventually grew into the cities of today. The Norwegian cities of Bergen, where Hansen is based, and Norway’s capital, Oslo, can both trace their roots back to Viking settlements. But Borgund disappeared from records after the Middle Ages. After one final mention of the town in the 16th-century, “it goes under the turf so to speak,” says Hansen—until 400 years later, when someone dug it up. In 1953, a local parish church started construction to expand its churchyard. But instead of dirt, workers were digging up old shoes and fragments of medieval pottery. Archaeologists were called in and were soon overwhelmed with the sheer number of artifacts. During the nearly 30 field seasons conducted at the site, three square miles of the meadow were excavated, uncovering about 45,000 objects. They had found the lost town of Borgund. “We’re talking about the largest excavation of a medieval site in Norway outside of the still existing towns,” says Hansen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter1469 View Post
    An inland Viking settlement along a lake 300 miles northwest of Oslo.

    Uncovering the Secrets of a Forgotten Viking Town





    hey, i wonder if my great, great great great great great grandmother's rapist came from there? northern ireland has a lot of blondes you know...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JesusIsLord View Post
    hey, i wonder if my great, great great great great great grandmother's rapist came from there? northern ireland has a lot of blondes you know...
    I don't think the Vikings hit there much. Maybe they did. But the English did, later. The term Scot-Irish refers to when an English king "gave Scottish lords land in Ireland and those Scots when to Ireland to take control and spread their seed.
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    I had no idea until recently just how widely the Vikings settled - sometimes peacefully, often not - in Britain and other parts of western Europe. The Normans, as in the Norman Conquest of 1066, were in fact the descendants of Vikings (Northmen, Normans) who'd settled in northwestern France a century or two earlier. Of course they'd adopted the French language, along with the Christian religion, but their DNA was still Scandinavian.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standing Wolf View Post
    I had no idea until recently just how widely the Vikings settled - sometimes peacefully, often not - in Britain and other parts of western Europe. The Normans, as in the Norman Conquest of 1066, were in fact the descendants of Vikings (Northmen, Normans) who'd settled in northwestern France a century or two earlier. Of course they'd adopted the French language, along with the Christian religion, but their DNA was still Scandinavian.
    Yes. And even further east where they made their capitol in Kiev.
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    And further west into Canada 1000 years ago at L'Anse aux Meadows.
    Let's go Brandon !!!

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