Viking Tune Ship: The First Viking Ship Unearthed

Viking ships’ stories always draw our attention. But stories are just words from generation to generation. It would be a great experience to observe the Viking ship in flesh and bone. Back to 1867, the archaeologists finally found out the first Viking ship. And they decided to bring the Viking Tune Ship to light.

It was on a fresh day in 1867, a group of archaeologists happened to find out a Viking ship on a burial mound on the Haugen farm in the parish of Tune, Ostfold, Norway. The name “Tune Ship” was named by the leading archaeologist Professor Rygh after the excavation.

Haugen Farm back to 1900s where the Viking Tune Ship had been excavated in 1867
Haugen Farm back to 1900s

Unusual burial mound and heavy-handed excavation

The burial site where Tune Ship rested was unusually large. It reached 80 meters (262.5 ft) in length and 4 meters (13.1 ft) in height. This became the largest burial mound in Norway. Prior to the excavation, someone removed the earth from the burial chamber, either to use or to get inside the burial, leaving the burial open. Accordingly, the Tune ship was exposed to the oxygen making it deteriorate to a great extent until the archaeologists attempted to protect it.

But that was not all misfortune of the Tune ship. The time that Tune ship came to public eye was 1867 and the archaeological skills during this time were nowhere to compare with now. The excavation was completely in a heavy-handed manner. The decision to unearth the Tune ship came quickly and so did the excavation. It took the archaeologists a few weeks to bring the ship to the earth surface. In the modern time, it took the archaeologists roughly 2 years to bring Oseberg ship to the public eye.

Viking Tune Ship now is on display in Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

The archaeologists placed a wooden frame under the ship and harnessed the frame to a horse. When the horse pulled the wooden frame, it pulled the Tune ship from the earth. Because of the heavy-handed excavation, the Tune ship, if not marked with spade sign, lost many objectives inside it.

Viking Tune ship once was a great sea-going vessel

According to the archaeologists, Tune ship was much smaller than Oseberg and Gokstad ship. But the Tune ship had a stronger mast support which would help sail as large as 100 meters square. Rather than being a cargo carrying ship, Tune ship was more likely to carry the valuable commodity that didn’t weigh much, for example, fur or glass. This unique ship dating back to 900s AD was also likely to carry human which was a good quality for a war ship.

Viking Tune Ship dedicated to a male warrior

Because the Vikings had a tradition of burying the dead with their ship, it was not abnormal to find out remains of human with the ship.

Viking Tune Ship dated back to the 900s AD
The remains of the Viking Tune Ship inside the Viking Ship Museum

People in the past decorated the Tune ship and the burial site as a luxurious site. And the archaeologists found the remains of the man in the burial chamber. The identity of the man was unknown. But one thing we can see certainly is that the man was either from the noble or a great warrior to deserve such great burial mound.

Although many of valuable objectives were robbed prior the excavation and destroyed during the dig, the remnants revealed this male figure was a great warrior. He was accompanied to his after life with three horses. A horse lay inside the burial chamber while the other two outside.

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