Ship burial

Model of the Sutton Hoo ship's structure as it might have appeared, with chamber area outlined

A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and the grave goods, or as a part of the grave goods itself. If the ship is very small, it is called a boat grave. This style of burial was used among the Germanic peoples, particularly by Viking Age Norsemen. According to the Boxer Codex, ship burials were also practiced by the people of the Philippines prior to colonisation in the 15th century.

A unique eyewitness account of a 10th-century ship burial among the Volga Vikings is given by Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan.[1] The largest Viking ship grave, 65 feet (20 m) long, was discovered in Norway by archeologists in 2018, and it is estimated to have been covered over 1000 years ago to be used as a boat grave for an eminent Viking king or queen.[2]

Viking Age ship burials



British Isles

Norse burials

Anglo-Saxon burials

Northern Europe

Eastern Europe

Western Europe

  • Solleveld - south of The Hague. Late sixth century. The only boat grave in The Netherlands, former Frisia[11]
  • Fallward - north of Bremerhaven, Germany. Fifth century[12]

See also

Media related to Ship burials at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North (Penguin Classics 2012, ISBN 9780140455076), Introduction by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone, pp. xxiii–xxiv.
  2. ^ "Enormous, rare Viking ship burial discovered by radar". National Geographic. October 15, 2018.
  3. ^ "The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde". Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved Jun 20, 2020.
  4. ^ "Gokstadhaugen". The Megalithic Portal. Retrieved Jun 20, 2020.
  5. ^ Osebergskipet – The Oseberg Ship, Norway Archived 2007-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Science Norway
  8. ^ "Vikings on Mann" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2012. Retrieved Jun 20, 2020.
  9. ^ "Viking boat burial site discovered in Scottish Highlands". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
  10. ^ "Orkneyjar - The Scar Viking Boat Burial, Sanday". www.orkneyjar.com. Retrieved Jun 20, 2020.
  11. ^ Waasdorp, J.A. & Eimermann, E., Solleveld. Een opgraving naar een Merovingisch grafveld aan de rand van Den Haag (2008)
  12. ^ Schön, M.D., Feddersen Wierde, Fallward, Flögeln. Archäologie im Museum Burg Bederkesa, Landkreis Cuxhaven (1999)

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