Viking ship's buried clues may reveal identities of mystery women

Found buried on a farm in Oseberg, Norway, an ancient Viking ship held sleighs, tapestries, silken bands, and the bones of two unidentified women.

The Oseberg ship is on display in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Built of oak around A.D. 820, the craft is especially noteworthy for its spiral-shaped prow, carved in the form of a serpent’s head. There are no signs that the vessel ever went to sea, so it is believed that its sole use was funereal.
Photograph by UNIVERSITY OF OSLO

During the late 19th century, a young Norwegian farmer, Johannes Hansen, arrived in the United States where—like many Scandinavians of the period—he had high hopes of starting a new life. However, an encounter with a fortune teller there made him change his plans. He learned that he need not suffer hardships in America to get rich because hidden on his farm back home was a great treasure.

This fateful encounter, described in a 1930 compilation of local history of Oseberg in southern Norway, may be nothing more than a yarn, but it reveals the intrigue and legends that surround one of the most exciting discoveries from the Viking age.

Hansen returned to Oseberg. He started to excavate a curious mound on his land but found nothing. He halted digging, speculating that the mound was just a burial site of Black Death victims from the 1349 epidemic. (This Mass Grave May Belong to 'Great Viking Army.')

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