New archaeological findings show that Vikings “imported” from the Celts

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Archaeologists were expecting to find beer or other brewing materials, but they found something more valuable.

It was supposed to be a simple, routine expansion work at Byneset Cemetery, adjacent to the medieval Steine Church in Trondheim, Norway. As in several other European countries, Norwegian law mandates that such works have to be preceded by archaeological studies — and in this case, it paid off in spades.

Archaeologists have discovered a trove of Viking artifacts, including one which is of a foreign origin: they come from Ireland, researchers say. Jo Sindre Pålsson Eidshaug and Øyunn Wathne Sæther, both research assistants at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) University Museum, say that what really drew their attention was a small brooch — a Celtic, gold-plated silver fitting from a book.

“This is a decorative fitting,” Eidshaug said of his discovery. “It almost looks like it’s gilded. It’s a kind of decorative fitting, I would guess.”

It might have been part of a bigger, religious ensemble, or a stand-alone book fitting. Right now, any such claims are little more than speculation. But what’s interesting is how it got there.

It’s no secret that Vikings roamed Europe’s seas, plundered the coast of England for centuries. Crossing over to Ireland, while not easy, was certainly possible for the skilled seamen. But even so, finding Celtic items in Viking sites is not common, with only a few similar sites previously discovered.

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