Would this not be the penultimate place to be buried if you were a well travelled Viking? Please, spread my ashes in a similar spot when I pass!
Via the History Blog, the grave was first identified in 2006 as part of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project‘s survey of potential archaeological sites in the area dating from the Neolithic through the 19th century. Full excavation occurred in 2011.
A number of other artefacts were placed on and around the body itself, including a single copper alloy ringed pin, which may have fastened the burial cloak or shroud . The ring has three bosses, a style that appears to come from Ireland (Graham-Campbell & Batey 1998: 116), implying southward connections. Between the pin and the ladle was a copper alloy drinking horn rim. Relatively undecorated apart from two simple, incised lines, it could either be insular in origin or may equally have a Scandinavian connection (cf. Paterson et al. 2014: 149–51). The position of the horn suggests it may have been laid to the south (or the right side) of the head.
It is interesting to note that in the Orkneys, Shetland and outer Hebrides, a variant of Norwegian was spoken until the early 1700's, locally called Norn.
Located between the edge of the boat and the north-west (left) side of where the body may have lain was the sword. This appears to have been deposited missing its tip, a feature also noted at Balnakeil in Sutherland (Batey & Paterson 2013: 637). It had been bent in a shallow S-shape, potentially indicating deliberate damage before deposition—something we also see with the spear. Around the blade, however, are the remnants of leather from a sheath, the presence of which suggests that the change in sword shape took place after deposition. Further investigation of this material is required to resolve this question. Adhered to the sword were mineralised textile remains, either from textile wrapping around the sword and sheath itself, or from the clothes or shroud worn by the deceased, as perhaps paralleled at Scar (Nissan 1999: 109–10). Both the guard and the pommel of the sword are finely decorated with silver and copper wire, and typologically the sword appears to be a Petersen Type K, with suggestions of Type P and Type O (Petersen 1919; Batey in press; Gareth Williams pers comm.). This provides the major evidence that this burial has a terminus post quem of the late ninth or early tenth century AD. What thrilling sagas and tales of battle could the sword and shield tell, could they but speak?
A son of Ragnar, no doubt, lying in his boat grave.
The analysis of the two remaining molars is especially interesting for giving an idea of where this individual originated:
It's further quite interesting that the tip of both the spear and the sword were broken off. I hypothesize that this was symbolic of the passing of the warrior interred, and also served the purpose of discouraging looting. It is also entertaining to recall that in all Norse mythology, the spirit of the warrior abides in the grave, and will rise up and fight with anyone disturbing the cairn. In the creepier sagas, the dead can and sometimes will arise from the grave and terrorize the locals.
Anyone who has read Tolkien will recognize a scene directly derived from this mythological history, where Frodo is captured by a long dead denizen of a grave mound, and has to be rescued by Bombadil.
One wonders how many other Viking boat burials still rest undisturbed and undiscovered in Britain and Ireland?