Old skeletons with war damage found in Oslo

skeletonsFound grave with three skeletons in Bispegata in Oslo: Sara Langvik Berge / NIKU / NTB scanpix

In the Old Town (Gamlebyen) of Oslo, three skeletons have been found that date back to the 12th century. Archaeologists believe it may be a mass grave from the Civil War with the Birkebeiner.

“The skeletons lay together in a mass grave, which is most often used when corpses must be buried quickly. That is why it has been exciting to try to link it to a historical event,” says Project Manager Michael Derrick to Dagbladet. He leads the excavations on Bispegata in the Old Town of Oslo.

“We know that Håkon Håkonsson’s saga says that in 1240 there was a battle where Håkon Håkonsson led the Birkebeiner army in the fight against Duke Skule Bårdsson. This battle apparently took place around St. Hallvard’s Cathedral – close to where the skeletons were found, he continues.

The excavations in the area are done in connection with the construction of new tram tracks under the auspices of the City Environment Agency.

The skeletons, according to Derrick, have stab wounds to the head and neck, which may be indicative of war injuries. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) believes the findings they have made are quite unique.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


2 Comments on "Old skeletons with war damage found in Oslo"

  1. Richard Reynolds | 26. June 2020 at 00:20 | Reply

    Interesting article, but if it happened in 1240, that is the 13th century.

  2. Birkebeiner is an excellent film. I’ve got it in my DVD collection.

    These bodies/skeletons are basically intact after 800 years!

    After noticing all the fairly new gravestones, I inquired of my local church down here about burial, and the lady said that if the grave isn’t renewed/re-rented every 20 years, it is used for someone else. I asked what happens to the previous body, and she said there was none – it had disappeared by that time!

    I pointed out that ancient graves still have human remains after hundreds of years, and this church official – her patience already exhausted by this authority-questioning American – exclaimed “Well that’s the way we do it in Norway!”

    So much for respect for the dead. Auschwitz for the dead?

    And I had thought church officials, of all people, could be trusted to be honest.

    I once wanted a Viking funeral – burning Viking ship set alight – but it’s illegal here in Norway, and the more I think about it, I would like to be buried in a grave with a sword … as long as I’m not buried alive, although that might still be better than being burned/cremated alive.

    According to those who have died and been brought back to life, if you have a quiet death your brain still remembers your life and loved ones for a time, and that would be very nice.

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