MHG55331 - Viking boat burial - Ardnamurchan peninsula


An intact Viking boat burial excavated in the summer of 2011 as part of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project.

Type and Period (1)

  • SHIP BURIAL (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Following a rapid walkover survey of the area of Swordle Bay, Ardnamurchan, a trench was excavated across a possible clearance cairn, to the west northwest of the Cladh Andreis chambered cairn as part of the initial season of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project in 2006. The 'L'-shaped trench (trench 3) measured 6.9m x 1m was opened to investigate the nature of this structure and to examine its relationship with a surrounding area of lazy bed cultivation. Excavation suggested that this was a small circular cairn set into the beach gravels but there was no stratigraphical relationship with the lazy beds. Only a quarter of the structure was rrevealed in an area that may possibly have seen more recent robbing activity. Only one possibly diagnostic find was made, an iron rove. It was anticipated that this structure would be fully excavated in the following season. <1>

Information was received from the Ardnamurchan Transitions project in August 2011 about the excavation of a Viking boat burial which was uncovered unexpectedly as they prepared to excavate what appeared to be a feature thought originally to have been a clearance cairn. This is the first boat burial excavated by archaeologists on the British mainland.

The burial consisted of a boat shaped cut, 5.1m by 1.5m, containing good evidence of the boat itself (in the shape of 150+ rivets 3 dimensionally recorded) and multiple grave goods including an axe, a sword, a spear, a shield boss, a bronze ring pin, a knife, a possible end of a drinking horn (bronze), a ladle-like implement, a whetstone, Viking grass-tempered pottery and many other pieces of iron that have yet to be identified. Although the body had mostly rotted away, a few fragments of bone and two teeth survived, confirming the presence of the body in the grave at the time of burial. The human remains were few but given the series of weapons the burial was thought to be male. Preliminary analysis suggested this site dated to the late 9th or early 10th century AD. <2> <3> <4>

See link below to view online published report. <5>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NM 54 70 (12m by 12m) (Approximate)
Map sheet NM57SW
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (1)

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