The decades-long confusion surrounding the remains of an eminent Viking occurred due to a mislabelled crate. The error was only rectified by chance.
The remains of a distinguished Viking have been rediscovered after being considered missing for more than a century.
The high-profile Viking-era remains long consiered lost turned out to be safely stored in a museum in a mislabelled container.
The remains found in a Viking burial mound called Bjerringhøj in 1868, likely belonging to adult male, featured expensive grave goods, including wrist cuffs, a fragment of embroidered wool, and several woven pieces that were seemingly used in ankle cuffs. The corpse appears to have been wearing long trousers with elaborate decorations. This suggests that the person buried was an accomplished warrior or a member of the nobility or even royalty, the New Scientist reported.
The burial chamber was discovered by accident when a local landowner hired farmers for agricultural work. A re-excavation more than a century later, in 1986, confirmed the burial as stemming from the Viking Age and dated from either 970 or 971 AD, but recovered few new artefacts.
When researchers started looking for the original remains in the National Museum of Denmark for comparison, they failed to find them. Neither did a 2009 archive search by the University of Copenhagen yield any results.
The missing remains were found in a different crate with textiles misattributed as stemming from another burial site called Slotsbjergby. Since the descriptions of the burial site mentioned no bones being found with the associated textiles, this raised researchers’ suspicions.
“I was puzzled about it”, Ulla Mannering at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, whose crew helped to reveal the mislabel, said. “We were all wow with this idea”.
Since the type of bones and remains matched the missing ones exactly, Mannering said the issue is settled beyond all reasonable doubt.
The Viking Age, a period of conquests by Norsemen, lasted between 793 and 1066. During this era, the Vikings established settlements in Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles, and Greenland, reaching as far as North America (which they called Vinland), Sicily, and the Byzantine Empire.