Thursday, October 29, 2020

Returning to Gokstad?

The Gokstad Ship.  Photograph by Karamell, 
found on Wikimedia Commons

In 1880, a 9th century CE Viking ship was discovered in a burial mound on farmland at Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway. The ship, the largest Viking age ship found in Norway,  is on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. 

The mound contained more than just the ship.  It contained the grave of a man, aged approximately 40 to 50 years old, powerfully built and between 181 and 183 cm (roughly 6 feet) tall.  The bones of twelve horses, six dogs, and a peacock were laid out around him.  The grave contained other goods, including three small boats, a tent, a sledge, and riding equipment.  Gold, silver, and weapons were surprisingly lacking, suggesting that the grave may have been robbed in antiquity.

Or so the current state of public knowledge goes.  I learned tonight that Aarhus University Press is planning to augment that knowledge with a three-volume series of books, called "Returning to Gokstad," that will review the Gokstad finds: 1) in light of other visits to the site over the last few decades; 2) other ship mound burials from Hedeby, Ladby and Sutton Hoo, and 3) the results of applying new scientific techniques to those finds, such as iron provenancing, aDNA, isotope analysis, osteology, and new dendrochronological results.  

What interested me in the book is the suggestion that there may be new textile information in it also.  Specifically, I found a rumor that there is an article in the first volume of the series about the textiles at Gokstad, written by Marianne Vedeler.  

The first volume is listed on the Oxbow Books website with a projected publication date of this year, but it is not yet available for purchase.  However, it can be preordered through Oxbow (but not through Oxbow's American affiliate Casemate Academic; I could not find any mention of the book at that site).  Likely it may be available for pre-order from bookstores in Scandinavia as well, though I haven't attempted to track such stores down.   

I doubt I will be able to afford the first book, let alone the set, but I am making a note to myself to look for the first book, and try to obtain it by interlibrary loan after it comes out, to see what textile information I can find. 

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