Recently I came across more interesting historical information about “Borre,” an ancient burial site in Norway about 35 miles south of Oslo. I think I may have written a bit about the Borre style some time ago on this blog. Since the word forms the core of our surname, I am drawn to learn more and will share some of my new findings here.
The Borrehaugene burial site (sometimes called the Kings’ Grave) lies on the west side of the Oslo Fjord and dates from about 560 to 1050 A.D. That beginning predates the Viking Age by 200 years. Let me give you a quick list of some things I find interesting.
- There are at least seven large mounds and 30-plus smaller ones or cairns. Many of these latter were opened and looted hundreds of years ago.
- Mound 1 was destroyed in the process of road construction in 1852, a tragic loss, really, because it contained the remains of a Viking ship 56 to 66 feet long. This was the first ship burial found in Norway and was probably comparable to the fantastic Gokstad and Oseberg ship burials discovered later.
- Other finds in that mound were three horses, their trappings and stirrups, several iron cauldrons, a glass vessel, weapons, and tools.
- Storri Sturluson’s saga suggests that the Borre burials were of Norwegian kings from the Ynglinge dynasty, from about 850 to 950 A.D.
- Ground-penetrating radar has helped archaeologists learn that were at least two large halls within 400 feet of the site, one dating to 700-800. They have concluded an important and powerful person lived here. One hall has been reconstructed and has become a major tourist attraction.
- Remote sensing has recorded a newly discovered tomb appearing to hold a fully armed warrior in a sitting position. According to T. Douglas Price in Ancient Scandinavia: An Archaeological History…, “Borre was the center of a small kingdom in the later Iron Age, ruled by individuals with connections to Sweden, and perhaps England and Denmark as well” (p. 356).
If you want to learn more about this amazing place, click on this Wiki site, Borre mound cemetery. The mound cemetery has become part of Borre National Park at Horton which also has a new visitor center. Were I to travel to Norway again, this would be one of my stops.