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Ladbyskibet - A Viking Ship Burial

The entrance to the Ladbyskibet burial mound

In 1934 the mound containing the viking ship grave was excavated North of the village of Ladby on the island of Funen. It is not the ship itself that is on display, but rather the impression of the planks in the ground, as well as the actual spikes that held the ship together. After the excavation was finished, a concrete dome was created over the site to bring its appearance back to the way it looked before the excavation, and to provide a safe space for the excavated grave.

The first view of the viking ship when entering the mound - from the stern

It is the grave of a viking chieftain buried here around the first half of the 10th century. This is a bit earlier in the time period than the Trelleborg Viking Fortress in Slagelse, which was built in 980-981 AD. The viking age is usually defined as the period between 800-1050 AD, placing this grave in the middle of the viking period. The viking ship was originally 21,5 meters (70.4 feet) long, 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide and 1 meter (3.3 feet) high.

The vikingship seen from stern right

This amazing find is being kept at the right humidity and temperature through its protective covering, which fortunately also allows us to study and appreciate it directly at its original location.

Some skeletons of the animals that were sacrificed and put in the grave are still in the ship

The chieftain was buried along with all the things a viking chieftain could be expected to need in the afterlife, including a ship, a varied weapons arsenal, 11 horses and several dogs, some of whose skeletons are still present inside the viking ship. The horses were of a size similar to today's Icelandic horses.

The ship's anchor

The viking ship was filled with the corpse of the deceased chieftain, the animals and afterlife necessities, and then covered by planks and then finally earth. The mound had a diameter of 30 meters (98 feet) and was surrounded by a fence of stakes.

The bow ornamentation is still available

The front decorations indicate that the viking ship was decorated with the dragon theme, which was common at the time. The ship had 15 oars on each side, and was fitted for a mast with sail. The ship was not built specifically for the burial, as it shows signs of earlier repairs.

Today the water is still close to the burial mound

The water - the main road system of the vikings - is still close to the burial mound and its viking ship. The area around the mound was a viking gravesite for the surrounding area, and the chieftain's grave was not the only one found here, but the largest and most impressive one of the graves.


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Copyright © H.T. Ohlsen 2007

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