• Norway's news in English
Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
Danish or Norwegian? Teeth hold the answer. Photo: Vegard Strømsodd/Explico / NTB scanpix

Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?

NTB/The Local · 2 Mar 2016, 11:49

Published: 02 Mar 2016 11:49 GMT+01:00

Norwegian researchers opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
“We have worked on investigating this for about seven years, so to finally obtain material that we can test for DNA is huge,” historian Sturla Ellingvåg told NTB. 
Rollo was the founder and first ruler of Normandy, the Count of Rouen and the great-great-great grandfather of William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England. While Norwegian-Icelandic history holds that Rollo is the same man also known as Ganger Hrólf and hails from Norway, some Danish historians claim that Rollo is from Denmark. 
In January, French officials granted a Norwegian application to open the tomb of Rollo’s grandson and great-grandson, Richard I of Normandy (also known as Richard the Fearless) and Richard II, also called Richard the Good. 
When researchers opened the tomb, a sarcophagus in the floor of a Fécamp monastery, on Monday they found Richard the Good’s lower jaw with eight teeth. A DNA analysis is likely to be completed by the autumn and will be presented in cooperation with the French authorities. 
“Finding teeth is key, because DNA can be found there even after this many years. Two forensic experts from Norway and Denmark took five teeth that will now be sent to the University of Oslo and the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen for analysis,” Ole Bjørn Fausa, the founder of one of the project’s sponsors, the Samlerhuset Group, said. 
Only when the analysis is complete will Danish and Norwegian historians be able to settle their conflicting claims on Rollo. 
Fausa said that Fécamp sarcophagus at first glance looked like it was only large enough to hold the remains of a toddler. 
“When they were buried in the floor, it was a matter of space. The most important thing was to preserve the skeleton. We don’t know for certain how it was done in this case, but it was common to either cut the bodies into pieces or boil them so the meat would come off the bones. Thus, the sarcophagus needn’t be any longer than a femur, the longest bone in the body,” he said. 
He described the atmosphere surrounding Monday’s opening as an amazing experience. 
Story continues below…
“As far as we know, this is only the second time since the war that a king’s tomb has been opened in France. Just to be a part of it and find the skeletons in there was exciting and unreal at the same time,” he said. 
Fausa said that if Rollo is confirmed to be Ganger Hrólf, it will have great historical significance. 
“If the British royal family originates from the northern part of Western Norway, it will change the perception that the Norwegian royal family is relatively young with origins from the British and Danish royal houses,” he said. 

For more news from Norway, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

NTB/The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Militants release ‘final message’ from Norwegian
Norwegian hostage Kjartan Seikkingstad and Canadian Robert Hall were forced to appeal to their governments for help. Photo: SITE Intelligence Group

Islamist extremists have released what they call a "final message" from three hostages including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

Hillary Clinton wants to block Norwegian in US
Clinton's campaign said the candidate has urged President Obama to deny Norwegian's application. Photo: Spencer Platt/Scanpix

Likely Democratic nominee for president says "too many questions have been raised" about Norwegian's Irish subsidiary.

SAS cancels 40 flights over technical issue
Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

As of Monday morning, 17 departures and 22 arrivals at Copenhagen Airport had been cancelled, affecting departures out of Oslo and Stavanger.

Norway's most spectacular road opens for summer
Although parts of the road remain closed, the scenic overlook is open. Photo: Marianne Løvland / NTB scanpix

As of Friday, parts of the Trollstigen mountain road will open for the summer – see the amazing video of how it got ready.

Woman attempted to set fire to Oslo mosque
The World Islamic Mission in Oslo. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

The World Islamic Mission may change security procedures after the arson attempt.

Norway won't change plans for Utøya memorial
The 'Memory Wound' design has been bitterly opposed by some locals. Illustration: Jonas Dahlberg/NTB Scanpix

Despite the threat of a lawsuit from locals, the controversial 'Memory Wound' will go forward as planned.

Norway moves to reject Snowden lawsuit
Edward Snowden. File photo: Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB scanpix

Norway’s state attorney has requested that Oslo District Court reject a lawsuit brought that would prevent US whistleblower Edward Snowden from being extradited during a visit to Oslo.

Norway opens new Arctic zones to oil exploration
Photo: Jan-Morten Bjørnbakk / NTB scanpix

Environmental groups bemoan the decision to open up an unexplored part of the Barents Sea.

Norway man who joined Isis: 'It was contrary to Islam'
Nils Christian Nordhus, the lawyer defending one of the suspects, talks with fellow defence lawyer Svein Holden in Oslo District Court on Wednesday. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt / NTB scanpix

A 23-year-old man who joined Isis in Syria told an Oslo court on Wednesday that what he witnessed there went against his views of Islam.

How US lawmakers could ground Norwegian’s success
Norwegian hopes to use its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to fly more transatlantic routes. File photo: Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix

A new bill in the US House of Representatives could put a block on Norwegian’s proposed expansion of budget flights across the Atlantic.

All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
Memo: Norway 'not mentally prepared' for refugees' impact
Norway is the world's fourth happiest country
Norway is the world's fourth happiest country
Norway moves closer to allowing dual citizenship
Norway moves closer to allowing dual citizenship
Norway's tough asylum plans face resistance
'Patriot' group Soldiers of Odin debut in Norway
Oslo is the real ‘Capital of Scandinavia’
Norway ads use Hitler teddy bear to scare parents... about dust
Migrants: Norway 'sending us to death' in Russia
Norway under fire over tough new asylum plans
jobs available