Archaeologist possibly identifies the tomb of a renowned Viking warrior chieftain

tomb-viking-warrior-chieftainImage Credit: Vesthimmerlands Museum

Bjarne Henning Nielsen, an archaeologist hailing from northern Jutland, has put forth his hypothesis concerning the location of the tomb of the renowned Viking warrior chieftain Ulv Galiciefarer – the great-grandfather of Valdemar the Great, the King of Denmark in 12th century AD. And as can be deduced from the moniker of ‘Galiciefarer’, the chieftain also known Jarl Galizur-Ulfric, was infamous for his frequent raids (and pillaging) into the lands of distant Galicia, the north-western part of Spain.

Of course beyond bloody history, there is the entire science of archaeology to consider. To that end, according to Nielsen, the first ‘hint’ comes from the title by which Ulv Galiciefarer was referred to in written literature (possibly including the Knýtlinga saga). In that regard, the Viking warrior has been mentioned as the earl (jarl) of Denmark. Now an ‘earl’ pertained a significant title that entailed a high-ranking noble who was (at times) given the unconditional right to govern and control lands in the king’s absence.

Suffice it to say, the earl was an authoritative figure, and thus any person endowed by the title was honored with a noble burial after his demise. Nielsen, who derives his expertise from being a curator at the Vesthimmerlands Museum, has studied many such tombs of Danish nobles. The tomb in question here, located in an area around Næsby in Jutland, showcases similar burial patterns to the graves of the Viking nobility.

For example, this particular grave is marked by a dark-shaded square in the ground, which possibly entails the remnant of a structure that enclosed the burial side. This type of tomb arrangement was pretty common for the Danish nobles of the time, especially in Jutland. And on further analysis of the grave occupant, the warrior was found to be buried alongside his sword, with the remains dating back to 11th century AD, thus corresponding to the timeline of Ulv Galiciefarer.

Moreover, the very location of the tomb was probably a part of Valdemar the Great’s ancestral heritage, passed down to him from previous generations. As Nielsen made it clear –

It is private property he inherited from his father’s side, and Galiciefarer is part of the lineage. There is of course not a note in the grave saying ‘Here lies Ulv’, but the time and place fit and the burial is consistent with that of someone the king would want to honor.

However, the archaeologist, considering the value of such a potential find, admitted that his conjecture is limited to a guess for now. Thus he added –

All we can do today is speculate, but someone wanted to honour the great hero who lies there, whose name we unfortunately may never know.

Source: The Copenhagen Post / Featured Image Credit: Vesthimmerlands Museum

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