Learn more about boat grave at Lofotr Viking Museum in the Viking Age. At the museum we have tworeconstructions of the Gokstad ship.
The most famous literary source of a Viking Chieftain’s funeral was written by Ibn Fadlan between 921 and 922 AD. It happened somewhere along the river Volga, in present-day Russia. Fadlan wrote that when the Chieftain died, the ship was pulled ashore. The dead Chieftain was taken into the tent that had been raised on the ship, and they laid him on a rug and supported him with pillows. They spent 10 days sewing magnificent clothes for him. Weapons, objects and food and drink were placed on the Chieftain’s body. A slave woman was sacrificed in addition to horses, dogs, and cows. The ship was set on fire and a mound was raised over the ashes.
Such a wonderful funeral was only awarded to Chieftains or the wealthy. We know of several such boat burials in Norway as Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune and Myklebust.
Around the year 900 AD a rich and powerful man died, and the Gokstad ship was used as a burial ship. At the back of the ship, a burial chamber was built where the dead man was buried.
The deceased was dressed in a decorative suit when he was buried. Weapons and jewellery are gone. These were probably taken by grave robbers already in the Viking Age, but they did not take everything. Among other things, one found a game board with game pieces made of horn, fishing hooks and harness fittings of iron, lead, and gilded bronze, 64 shields, kitchen utensils, six beds, a tent, a sleigh and three smaller boats. The deceased also had 12 horses, eight dogs, two peregrine falcons and two peacocks with him in the grave.