Norway began work on Friday to excavate the first Viking ship to be unearthed in the country in more than a century, with experts hoping it will shed light on the era of Nordic seafarers.
Ground-penetrating radar detected the old ship, buried about 50cm below ground on a mound covering a burial site in 2018 in the southeast near the border with Sweden.
Initial observations suggested that the remains were very bad, forcing authorities to launch excavations quickly before the ship was completely degraded.
Only three well-preserved Viking ships were found in Norway, the last excavation dating back to 1904. All three are now on display at a museum near Oslo.
“With so few ships discovered, a new Viking ship will have a major impact on understanding the ships themselves, but will also provide valuable information to understand the historical era as a whole,” said archaeologist Knut Paasche of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research.
Viking warriors and merchants who sailed the seas between the 8th and 11th centuries often buried kings and dignitaries with ships hoisted ashore.
“The ship Gjellestad is a discovery of remarkable national and international importance,” said Culture Minister Sveinung Rotevatn.
The excavation is expected to last five months.