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Stone Carved With Viking Ship Discovered in Iceland

An exciting discovery has been made by archaeologists in east Iceland. They have uncovered what may be the oldest picture ever found in the country.

The Find

A sandstone carved with a Viking ship was recently unearthed at the archaeological site Stöð in Stöðvarfjörður. It is believed to predate the permanent settlement of Iceland.

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The stone was discovered within the wall of an older cabin at the site by Bjarni F. Einarsson, the archaeologist leading the excavation. While ship carvings are common in the Nordic countries, this particular drawing is the first of its kind found in Iceland. It is likely the oldest drawing in the country’s history.

Longship
A replica of a Viking longship. Stones with carvings are quite common. But not this old!

The archaeological investigations at Stöð began in 2015 with exploratory digs, and researchers have returned every summer since to continue their excavation work. Initially focusing on a longhouse from the settlement era, the site has proven to be of great significance.

Other Artifacts

The longhouse at Stöð is one of the largest ever found in Iceland. It measures an impressive 31.4 meters (103 feet) in length. In Scandinavia, only Chieftains’ farms had longhouses larger than 28 meters (92 feet).

Additionally, it is the most prosperous longhouse ever excavated in Iceland, yielding numerous valuable artifacts. Among these are 92 beads and 29 silver objects, including coins with Roman and Middle Eastern origins.

Read More: Unearthed Rare 1000 Year-Old Viking Arrowhead

The recent discovery of an even older longhouse beneath the settlement-era structure further enhances the importance of the site. Estimated to date back to around 800 AD, approximately 75 years before the permanent settlement of Iceland, this older longhouse exhibits some distinctive characteristics.

longhouse
A drone shot of one of the longhouses also discovered. (Photo: Bjarni Einarsson)

Notably, there is an absence of domesticated animal bones, suggesting that it may have served as a seasonal hunting camp.

Bjarni F. Einarsson theorises that a Norwegian chief operated the camp, organising voyages to Iceland to gather valuable items and transport them back to Norway.

Among the sought-after valuables could have been walrus ivory, as previous DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating have confirmed the presence of a now-extinct North Atlantic subspecies of walrus in Iceland.

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This year, the archaeologists employed survey equipment to conduct a broader scan of the area surrounding Stöð, leading to further exciting findings.

Evidence of additional structures and boat burial sites has been discovered, expanding the scope of the site and offering new avenues for exploration and understanding of the region’s past.

Excavations

The ongoing excavations and discoveries at Stöð provide valuable insights into the early settlement history of Iceland and shed light on the connections between Viking voyages, trade, and cultural exchange.

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Each new finding deepens our understanding of the people who inhabited the land and their interactions with the surrounding world.

The Viking ship carving on the sandstone serves as a tangible reminder of the seafaring traditions and cultural significance that shaped medieval Iceland.

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