The Heathen Mythbuster

The Heathen Mythbuster

About the blog

As long as I have been on online heathen forums, I have encountered many modern myths. The internet are full of strange and wonderful theories and that is great, but many of them are not based on real facts or are ignoring facts to get their homegrown theory to fit. I will try to find the facts about these theories and share them here. Some of the posts will properly have to be rewritten/changed to accommodate new data or data I wasn’t aware of then posting the information on the first time. That’s only an natural development for such a blog.
Since I am Danish and English isn’t my first language, I will properly make many grammatical and spelling mistakes. Please bear over with me.

Viking Berserker grave found in Denmark?

WarriorsPosted by Kim Pierri Thu, September 22, 2016 09:28:42

In a debate about berserkers, someone mentioned that berserker graves had been found and googling I found two articles who both are talking about a grave found I Hårup in Jutland Denmark:

The first one I read doesn’t really tell us much about why they think that man in the grave was a berserker. http://www.newhistorian.com/grave-axe-wielding-viking-berserker-found-denmark/6983/

His only reference are an article on News Corp Australia. I also found that article: Viking burial site in Denmark contained a warrior — and his enormous axe

http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/archaeology/viking-burial-site-in-denmark-contained-a-warrior--and-his-enormous-axe/news-story/c2c58410644f148a4fdaad5786182c59

The first I looked at said: “IT seems there’s some truth in the myths after all. Archaeologists in Denmark have found the burial site of a Viking ‘berserker’ warrior — complete with an oversized battle axe”

The article reference archeologist Kirsten Nelleman Nielsen (who they clearly think are a man) and say that the find are reported in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” from Saxo Institute at The University of Copenhagen. They don’t know it, but it’s a compendium of articles from a Symposium at the institute from 2016 (I went there myself and listened to the presentations). The journalist doesn’t seem to have read the article in the book, because he wrote: “His findings, Dead and buried in the Viking Age, have been published by the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhangen” [SIC!]

When I read through the article, none of its contents appear to be talking about berserkers. It only talks about the grave and say that an enormous axe was found in the grave.

The article in News Corp Australia also says: “It [the axe] was the sole possession found among the bones of a particularly strong man”. That is also an invention of the journalist, because the article in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” says that there was very little human remains found and that they determined the sex of the buried peoples by the grave goods. That also follow, that they couldn’t determinate the size or musculature of the buried man. I would surmise that the journalist thought, that a man buried with such a large axe, must have been big and muscular.

The journalist also reference two articles more:

http://sciencenordic.com/unique-viking-tomb-contains-remains-noble-couple

http://www.livescience.com/55490-mighty-ax-discovered-in-viking-tomb.html

None of those articles mentions a berserker.

It seems like the part of it being a berserkergrave are an invention of the journalist at Australian News Corp and that others have referenced him on other pages. None of them read the original article. The journalist at “The new historian” even uses material not found in the Australian News Corp, but in the 2 articleslinked from there, but not noticing, that those articles doesn’t talk about berserkers.

What you can read from the original article in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” are that this grave original was with two wooden build rooms, the female had a lot of high status grave goods in her grave and in the male grave, there was only found a very large axe. Later another graveroom was added to the grave with a male also containing an axe. The article also says that axes are the weapon mostly found in norse graves from the Viking Age.

The 2 articles that claims that the buried man was a berserker also base their interpretation on that his only gravegoods was the large axe. The problem with that interpretation are that in the burialground no organics material have been preserved. Segments of Wood, fur or cloths are only preserved when it was in contact with metal objects. So there could have been more in his grave, that hasn’t survived to this day.

The archeologist estimates that the reason the man has a large axe in his grave are to mark his status as a warrior and a chieftain, but not a word of berserkers.

I have read the Danish version of the book from the Saxo Instirute (the English version are a translation of that book):

Død og begravet – I vikingetiden, ed. Jens Ulriksen and Henriette Lyngstrøm

Copenhagen 2016.