Four pagan graves, believed to date from the tenth century, were discovered by archaeologists on Dysnes point, near Akureyri, North Iceland, earlier this week, mbl.is reports. Two are the graves of men buried in their boats. What makes the find remarkable is that in total, only about ten boat graves are known to have been discovered in Iceland.
One grave includes human bones and part of a dog’s jaw and tooth, suggesting a man was buried there with his dog; the second one is a grave in which at least one man was buried with a boat and sword. It is severely damaged by coastal erosion, as is the sword. The ocean has claimed most of the boat, but human bones remain. Nails show where the boat used to be located. A third grave is much better preserved and includes a boat.
One of the graves had been robbed centuries ago, but the boat graves appear to have been left undisturbed. Coastal erosion left the finds near the surface, and it surprised the archaeologists to discover the graves before the planned excavation had even begun.
The name of the point gave them a clue: it means grave point. Half a kilometer south of Dysnes is Kumlholt, meaning grave hill, where a grave, that may be a boat grave, was discovered 11 years ago.
There are plans to build a large harbor by Dysnes, which explains the timing of the excavation. The archaeological find is not expected to affect those plans.
Archaeologist Hildur Gestsdóttir, who directs the project, expects much more to be unearthed.