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Unusually well-preserved Viking grave found by chance: The dog came to the grave

Odense City Museums is in the process of investigating a larger area with Bronze Age buildings. But a burial site from the Viking Age has also been found with an unusually well-preserved Viking and his dog.

Archaeologist from Odense City Museums Mikael Bjerregaard is in the process of excavating a tomb from the Viking Age, where the remains of a skeleton can still be seen in the ground.

Actually, the museum is investigating an area with Bronze Age buildings at Tietgenbyen. But archaeologists have come across a well-preserved Viking tomb in the area, which is only 600 meters away from another Viking tomb site the museum has previously investigated.

- I'm digging out the Viking that has appeared here. We can see that his skull is up here and his upper arms are here, he says as he gently scrapes along the bones in the ground.

That there are still bones from Vikings in the graves is unusual, says Mikael Bjerregaard.

We sometimes find Viking graves, but then there is usually nothing of the person preserved anymore, so that we can actually see the outline of the person here, and the bones are to touch and feel, it is unusual. After all, he has been there for 1100-1200 years

Buried with his dog

It is not only Viking bones that lie in the grave. At the foot of the tomb is also a well-preserved skeleton of a dog.

- The skull lies here with the fine predator teeth and forelegs here and the back here, and then the hind legs are here. They have followed each other in the grave, says Mikael Bjerregaard, as he points down to the grave.

It was normal for the valuable things to accompany the deceased, at least when it came to a significant person. That is why the dog has come with his master to the grave, says Mikael Bjerregaard.

And the tomb also testifies that it is a Viking with a certain status who is buried at Tietgenbyen.

We must believe this from the construction of the tomb. He has been in a rather large construction with his coffin, and the dog is also a status symbol in the Viking Age. It indicates in itself that he has been significant

At the foot of the tomb one can see the skeleton of the dog that was buried with his master. Photo: Kasper Marquardtsen

Enthusiastic archaeologists

Odense City Museums has found a total of 14 graves scattered in the area, all of which are dated to the Viking Age, but only one grave where bone remains have been found. This is because the grave is deeper in the ground than the other graves and therefore the bones have not rotted away.

As an archaeologist, the discovery of Viking bones is something that excites.

- There we are all quite excited who work out here, because it is not at all something we find every day. We may find the graves, but then there is not so much as a tooth left. Here we can clearly see this person, and when we get the bones up, then we can also become wiser about how old he got, and maybe we can see what he died of, and we can find out what it is was for a dog he had, says Mikael Bjerregaard.

The article was published in tv2fyn on 26-06-2019
Written by Mikkel Skov Svendsen

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