Norse Burial Rites Bought to Life

Norse Burial Rites are based on the Vikings worship of pagan gods, they would bury their dead according to these pagan rituals. The dead were buried with a range of different objects.

These items have provided useful information on the lives of the vikings who hailed from Norway, Sweden and Denmark and were known for their raiding and burning of ports and cities all along the coast.

Before Christianity came, the vikings had their own beliefs which was known as Norse mythology, and dying in battle was seen as the most prestigious way to depart life.

To be killed in such a way would guarantee the dead viking a seat in Valhalla, a huge hall ruled by Odin where nightly banquets were held.

Norse burial ritesBurials took place in Underground Vaults or Chambers

Norse burial rites included two main types of burials – cremation and inhumation. Inhumation of leaders and other important clan members consisted of creating an underground vault.

These vaults had walls of wood to reinforce them and a wooden roof overhead. much like burial sites of the era. An earthen mound built on top, protected the vault which lay underground,

It is believed some of the bodies were seated when buried and  certain items were placed in their hands – maybe for use in the next life. Apart from chamber burials, some bodies were simply buried in shrouds or a type of coffin.

The dead were either burned or buried in their daily clothes, along with their personal belongings such as amulets and charms.

Some Traditional Norse burial rites happened on a grand Scale

A traditional Viking funeral would be the corpse being burned in an open air funeral pyre and then burying the cremated remains in an urn.

If you were particularly wealthy, you could be cremated in a pyre and buried in a mound with a ship along with sacrificial animals and gifts.

Many graves contained bedding. There are some unusual graves where boulders had been rolled on top of the body. Maybe they were mortally injured when buried alive and the boulders were to stop them from getting up to carry on fighting.

Local Customs determined Funerary Practices

Norse burial rites and practices were incredibly diverse. Their complex burial preparations and rituals included the whole community and brought them together in an attempt to ensure the needs of the deceased were met in Valhalla.

Sometimes horses were also buried, indicating that there was a need for some kind of transport which could be used for the dead to travel to the next world.

Cruel and Unusual but Fascinating Nevertheless

A Viking sacrifice seems to us to be cruel but it was a requirement in terms of their religious belief. Those interested will want more evidence, especially archaeological which will hopefully reveal more of the fascinating practices of the Vikings.

Today there are a number of burial boats that have been unearthed and are on display in Norwegian museums. In fact Oslo, Norway has a number of Viking funeral ships on display at the Museum of Cultural History.

When you start doing research, you discover that there are a great variety of funeral and burial practices with the Vikings based on customs. Their elaborate burial preparations were to honour their dead and ensure they passed successfully on to the afterlife.

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