Ladbyskibet Viking Burial
The Ladbyskibet viking chieftain burial site is located in Ladby, Denmark on the island of Funen, just West of the town of Kerteminde. The Ladbyskibet burial site is the only viking burial site in Denmark, and has helped give a more exact picture of what life - and death - was like around 950 AD, in the middle of the viking age.
This is the burial of a viking chieftain. Men of such high rank and position was given a very elaborate send-off to the next life. The ship itself has signs of repairs made to it, so it had been in use before it became the grave of the viking chieftain.
The excavation itself shows the impression of the viking ship. The wood has disappeared, but the iron spikes and rings remain, as do the bones of the 11 horses and numerous dogs that were killed and put in the grave along with the chieftain, to give him a life in the next world as full of status and convenience as his life in this world had been.
The ship was 21.5 meters long and 3 meters wide, which was quite a sizeable ship for its time. A wooden hut or cabin had been built just aft of where the mast used to be, and the chieftain was put in it, along with the weapons, food, drink and valuables he would need. Then the ship was burned and when the fire had died out earth was put on top of it, creating the mound we see today, and a wooden fence was erected around the perimeter.
The viking ship was decorated in the dragon theme, which was a very popular theme for ships in the viking age. The iron curls on the back of the dragon head are still present in the excavation.
The entrance into the North side of the burial mound was created after the excavation in 1934 and the ensuing creation of a 30 meter in diameter concrete dome in place of the earth that had originally been used.
The whole area around Ladby is known to have been a lively viking community in viking age. The Ladbyskibet viking chieftain grave was not the only grave at the location, but the biggest of all the graves. Worth noticing is the fact that the mound had been broken into a few decades later, and the viking chieftain remains had been severely mutilated. There is speculation that this was a demonstration of force by a later chieftain.
In 2007 a new museum was finished at the location, Vikingemuseet or the Viking Museum. It is worth visiting, as it gives an excellent overview of viking life at the time of the Ladbyskibet burial and what the viking world looked like for its inhabitants. Note the present day colorful runic stone at the entrance to the museum ground.