Norway launched work on Friday to excavate a Viking tomb ship, the first to be unearthed in the country in more than 100 years, a rare discovery that may help increase knowledge of that era.
Buried about 50 centimeters underground in a mound covering a Viking burial, the boat of Gjellestad, named after the locality where it rests in the south-east of the kingdom, had been detected in 2018 thanks to a ground-penetrating radar.
The remains being in a very bad state, victim of a mushroom attack, according to the first observations, the Norwegian authorities decided to uncover them quickly before a complete deterioration.
Only three Viking ships in good condition have been discovered in the past in Norway, the last excavation going back to 1904 with the boat from Oseberg. All three are now on display in a museum near Oslo.
Kings and dignitaries buried on board a boat
In the age of the Vikings during which these warriors and merchants from Northern Europe furrowed the seas between the 8th and 11th centuries, it was customary to bury kings and dignitaries aboard a boat hoisted ashore and buried, with objects, under a mound.
The Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn, came to give the first shovel.
The excavation work should last five months, according to archaeologists.