Viking temple to Thor and Odin built 1,200 years ago for animal sacrifices found in Norway
A VIKING temple dedicated to Old Norse gods like Thor has been unearthed by archaeologists.
The remains of the 1,200-year-old pagan temple were dug up in Norway and provide a rare insight into the Viking religion.
The foundations of the large temple[/caption]
This is a reconstruction of what it may have looked like[/caption]
Archaeologists have dated the remains of the large wooden building to the end of the 8th century.
They think it would have stood 40 feet high and was 45 feet long and 26 feet wide.
That’s just over half as tall as Buckingham Palace.
It’s thought sacrifices and feasts would have occurred inside to honour the gods during the midsummer and midwinter solstices.
Sacrifices and feasts likely happened inside the temple[/caption]
A large white penis shaped stone was previously found near the site and was linked to ancient fertility rituals.
This is the first Old Norse temple to be found in Norway.
Old Norse is the ancient language associated with the Vikings.
Archaeologist Søren Diinhoff of the University Museum of Bergen told Live Science: “This is the first time we’ve found one of these very special, very beautiful buildings.
“We know them from Sweden and we know them from Denmark. … This shows that they also existed in Norway.”
He added: “It is a stronger expression of belief than all the small cult places.
The temple was unearthed during a dig taking place before planned housing work[/caption]
“This is probably something to do with a certain class of the society, who built these as a real ideological show.”
The foundations of the ancient building, or “god house” as they’re often called, were unearthed last month in a Norwegian sea side village called Ose.
Digging was happening there in preparation for new houses.
The temple was found in this Norwegian seaside village [/caption]
Traces of early agricultural settlements were also found nearby.
They dated to the earlier time of around 2,000 to 2,500 years ago.
The remains of the temple date to a later time when the area is thought to have been dominated by elite wealthy families.
It is thought the families would have led the cult worship.
Houses will soon be built nearby where the temple once stood[/caption]
Experts think the elite likely wanted a “god house” built based on more Christian structures with a high tower on top.
Before this time, Viking gods were more commonly worshipped in simplistic settings.
The wood of the temple no longer remains but you can see the postholes where the main beams would have stood and the area where the tall tower would have been.
Evidence of cooking pits and animal bones fit in with the theory that feasts and sacrifices occured there.
Food, drink, animal sacrifices and precious metals were often offered to Old Norse gods.
The worshippers would then feast and enjoy the goods themselves because they knew the gods couldn’t come and join them.
Instead, wooden figurines may have been used to represent the gods.
Popular Old Norse gods include storm god Thor and war god Odin.
Norway’s kings enforced Christianity from around the 11th century so burned down a lot of Old Norse temples and religious sites.
There’s no current evidence to suggest the Ose temple was burned down.
A brief history of the Vikings
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Viking Age is a period in European history and dates from around 800 to 1050AD
- Some groups of Vikings did live on for a bit longer after this period in different countries across the globe
- They originated in Scandinavia and travelled all over the world on their famous Viking ships
- They are well known for colonising and brutally raiding new areas
- Vikings created a trade network that spanned the globe and evidence of similar house styles, jewellery, tools and lots of other everyday equiptment can be found in many different countries
- The Viking Age in Britain ended when the Norwegian king Haraldr harðráði was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066
- Vikings are usually depicted as having horns on their helmets but there is only one well preserved helmet from the Viking Age and this does not have horns
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In other news, details of the grave of a ‘warlord’ who may have ruled a tribe after the collapse of Roman Britain have been revealed.
A sunken ship has been found in almost perfect condition despite spending 400 years underwater.
And, Ancient Egyptian coffins sealed for thousands of years have been found down a burial shaft.
What do make of the Viking temple? Let us know in the comments…
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