Visiting a Viking burial mound

All across Norway, you can find lots and lots of Viking burial mounds. There are a lot in the general area of where I live, and I went to visit one recently. This one is called Gokstadhaugen, and is located in the city of Sandefjord. Sandefjord is a medium-sized town in the South-eastern part of Norway.

The burial mound used to contain a Viking ship called “Gokstadskipet”, hence why the mound is called Gokstadhaugen. The ship is from the 9th century, and it is the largest preserved Viking ship that has been found. The ship is currently on display in Oslo, Norway’s capital, so only a hollow burial mound remains.

Upon visiting the burial mound, the first thing you see is the mound itself, then a sign that informs you that this is a protected area, and that no unruly or lous activities are allowed. The area is protected by a short stone fence, and a massive wooden gate.

After entering the area, if you turn to your left, you can see a stone wall that has been raised to provide information about the ship. It tells you about when the ship was found, why it was buried, and where it is now. The text is a bit faded due to the weather, but the wall itself is well kept. It’s completely natural for ink to fade in the sun, but luckily the stone carvings are still intact.

The last thing you can find within the gated area is a copper plaque telling you about the king that was buried with the ship. Since it is made from copper, it has turned green, and it is a bit difficult to read the text, but I’ve tried to translate what I can decipher from it.

“The kings mound is erected over king Olav Geirstadalv, son of Gudröd Gjeve and Alvild Kongedatter from Alvheim. He was buried in the 9th century a.c. with his belongings. Tjodolf of Kvine tells the tales of King Olav and his rule, until his life was taken at Foldestranden. Now the great warrior is buried at Geirstad.”

– unknown

It is a great place to visit if you are interested in Viking culture. The county of Vestfold has lots of places where you can discover more about our Viking heritage, and I would recommend visiting them all. I hope I get to see more of them in the nearest future, too.

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