Archaeologists said Tuesday they have discovered the remains of a Viking chief buried with his boat, ax, sword and spear on a remote Scottish peninsula — one of the most significant Norse finds ever uncovered in Britain.
The 16-foot-long (5-meter-long) grave is the first intact site of its kind to have been discovered on mainland Britain and is believed to be more than 1,000 years old. Much of the wooden boat and the Viking bones have rotted away, but scraps of wood and hundreds of metal rivets that held the vessel together remain.
The archeologists also unearthed a shield boss — a circular piece of metal attached to the middle of a shield — and a bronze ring-pin buried with the Viking. They also found a knife, a whetstone to sharpen tools, and Viking pottery on the site on the Ardnamurchan peninsula on Scotland's west coast.
The boat and its contents were discovered by a team of archeologists from Manchester and Leicester universities working with the cultural heritage organization Archaeology Scotland and consultants CFA Archaeology.
Hannah Cobb, co-director of the project, said the discovery had exceeded expectations.
"A Viking boat burial is an incredible discovery, but in addition to that the artifacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain," she said.
The team of archeologists had been digging on the Ardnamurchan peninsula to learn more about social change in the area.
Vikings from Scandinavia made frequent raids on Scotland and what is now northeast England in the 8th and 9th centuries, and many Vikings set up settlements in the area.