1,000-year-old ship found underneath ground on Norwegian island

A ship likely to have built by the Vikings has been found by Norwegian researchers using georadar.

1,000-year-old ship found underneath ground on Norwegian island
Edøy Old Church. Photo: Photo: kjelljoran/Creative Commons

The vessel, which could also date from the pre-Viking era, was discovered in the western Møre and Romsdal county, NRK reports.

Climate minister Ola Elvestuen told the broadcaster that the discovery was of “both national and international significance”.

Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) uncovered traces of the ship on the island of Edøy.

A high-resolution georadar “detected traces of a ship burial and a settlement that probably dates to the Merovingian or Viking Period at Edøy,” NIKU writes on its website.

Edøy is located on the shipping lane to Trondheim, close to where early king Harald Fairhair is said to have fought two sea battles, winning royal power in Norway in the late 800s.

“This is incredibly exciting. And again, it’s the technology that helps us find yet another ship. As the technology is making leaps forward, we are learning more and more about our past,” Knut Paasche, head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU and an expert on Viking ships, said via the institute’s website.

“It is too early to say something certain about the date of the ship, but we know that it is more than 1,000 years old,” Paasche told NRK.

Tove-Lise Torve, head of the Møre and Romsdal county administration, expressed her excitement about the discovery, which she did not happen by “chance”.

“This is not a chance discovery, but a result of systematic work,” Torve said via press release, in reference to a county-funded research and development project.

“Edøy is one of the key sites along the coastal pilgrimage trail, and we have planned to establish a regional coastal pilgrimage centre here for our county and (neighbouring county) Trøndelag. This discovery tells us that we have chosen the right place,” she added.

The remains of the ship are located just below the topsoil in an area where there was previously a burial mound, the institute writes on its website.

“The length of the keel indicates that the ship may have been a total of 16-17 meters long,” Paasche said.

In addition to the ship, the archaeologists also noted traces of settlements in the data, but are so-far yet to date these.

The georadar surveys at Edøy were conducted as a collaboration between Møre and Romsdal County, the local municipality Smøla, and NIKU.

READ ALSO: Norwegian Game of Thrones actor to make 'True Viking' reality show

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How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT


An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.