On his way to camping in Kalffällen, a mountain hiker in Jämtland, central Sweden, made an unexpected surprise.
Archaeologists in Sweden were ecstatic by the discovery. Eskil Nyström, a mountain hiker, discovered a brooch a year ago. While building and fastening his tent, Nyströn noticed something weird poking up from the ground.
“My first assumption was that I had discovered a mine, but after digging about, I realized that it couldn’t be,” Eskil Nyström told TT.
It has now been shown to be a 1200 year old brooch, potentially the first female Viking Age grave discovered in the Swedish Alps.
Eskil Nyström took the brooch home and inquired about it, but no one knew what it was or where it came from. After contacting the museum Jamtli in stersund a year later, he learned the archaeological and historical significance of the brooch he had unearthed.
Wednesday morning, archaeologist Anders Hansson in Jamtli investigated the discovery site for the first time. They discovered soot and charred bones there. Hansson also discovered another oval brooch, which is not surprising given that such pins are typically discovered in pairs.
Researchers discovered burnt bones at the site, implying a cremation burial.
“What has been established is that it is a Viking Age cremation grave, most likely a woman’s grave,” Hansson explains. Only five other Viking burials have previously been discovered in the mountains, all of which belonged to men.
“You get the impression that when the woman died, these individuals were on their way somewhere.” The burial took place here, where the woman breathed her last. “They might have transported the woman home to where they resided, but instead they made a cremation pit on the mountain,” Hansson explained to TT.
According to Hansson, the female Viking grave is well-equipped.
“It’s extremely lovely. It is both socially and spiritually acceptable. The Viking woman buried all of her most valuable possessions, yet there are no monuments, burial mounds, or cairns. It’s only a gentle incline. “This cemetery is so distinct from Viking graves in Iron Age settlements,” Hansson explained, adding that excavations of the grave are not scheduled for this year.
Each discovery adds to our understanding of how people sent their loved ones to the afterlife. When a famous Viking leader died, he was either buried aboard a ship or burnt at the stake.
The Vikings’ stunning burial ceremonies made extensive use of fire. During the early Viking Age, cremation was common. Later, ashes were scattered across the waterways. Cremations account for the great majority of burials discovered across the Viking world.
No big excavations will take place until next summer.
Archaeology is a world full of surprises, and we’ve seen how tiny finds may lead to far larger treasures on several occasions. This time, a tiny brooch from the ninth century could open a new chapter in Sweden’s Viking history.