|Passage to the Outer World|
There is no archaeological records that can bridge the time gap that exists between the first ship-burial graves in Gotland at the beginning of the Iron Age
to the graves that contained the burnt remains of ships from approximately 500 A.D.. One possible explanation for the lack of archaeological evidence is the
practice of ship building without the use of iron rivets, such ships did exist as one has been recovered from a bog as proven in Nordiske Fortidsminder. The
lack of iron rivets would take into the consideration of wood decay over hundreds of years leaving no trace of the ships existence. The same would hold true
in the case of burning ships where all the materials would have been consumed by the fire. In either event there is a strong possibility that the use of ship
burials goes back even further then the recorded archaeological records can prove.
It is Lindqvist who insists that there was no ship burials before that of the Vendel graves which dates to about 600 A.D.. His explanation for the rivets found
in earlier graves is from chests that were buried or burnt with the dead and are not at all from ships. The Vendel graves provide an excellent example of ship
burials, with two of fourteen of the graves being in too poor of shape to provide any conclusive evidence, and one grave the contents were not placed onboard
the ship unlike the remaining graves that had the contents on the ship. Despite the rich find of burial ships there was very little in human remains found at
the site, possibly from grave robbers who plundered the grave site. Grave number IX contained the most human remains in the entire site, this grave contain
almost the complete skeleton of a man sitting upright in a chair, it is believed this grave is from the 10th century. Another grave provided similar amount of
human remains grave number XIV contained the remains of a chieftain sitting upright in full war-gear with his horse beside him. His remains and the remains of his
horse were found in the stern of the ship. Lindqvist believes this grave is the oldest grave in the entire site dating back to around 600 A.D. or a little earlier.
Despite the lack of human remains there was a large number of animal remains found at the site; generally the types of animals found were domestic animals such as
sheep, cattle and pigs, however there were the remains of horses especially in the oldest graves, where often there was a number of horse skeletons found in a row on
the starboard side of the ship with their heads turned towards the prow. Included in the animal remains found were several dogs both large and small, a few hawks, and
at least one duck and one goose. The dead warriors were provided all their weapons to take with them on their journey to the next life. In the forepart of the ship
cauldrons were found with cooking utensils and other items needed in preparing food. In grave number XIV (the oldest grave) food had been deliberately supplied in
addition to the animal remains there was found a joint of ham and a sheep’s head.
In the cremation graves of the kings at Uppsala animal remains were found, although according to Lindqvist the size of the rivets found could not equate to a ship
being burnt there. The dead were burnt in a hut or burial chamber; the supporting posts have left clear traces when they were burned to the ground. He also points
out that there is a striking resemblance between this custom and the custom of setting up burial chambers onboard the ships that were burnt in the earth, as was
proven with three great ships of the Viking Age found in Norway.
These three ships found in Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune show the culmination of the ship burial practice. Fortunately for the modern age the soil composition has allowed
the ships to remain in good condition so they could be moved to museums. A side not to this however the newspaper Aftenposten in Norway has reported the condition of
the Oseburg ship to be turning to the worse. Upon an inspection by archaeologists when the top deck was removed they found cracks in the ship that would make it
impossible to move the ship any more, including a move to a new exhibit building. However upon removing the top deck they found new details on the ships rigging, Viking
age graffiti and new decorations. All three of the ships had been plundered by grave robbers, but enough of the grave goods remained on the Oseburg and Gokstad ships to
give an idea of the richness and elaborate ceremonial of the funeral. Each ship had a burial chamber built out of timber before the ship and the contents were covered
with up with a huge burial mound.
The Oseburg ship contained the greatest number of grave goods, although the most valuable goods were stolen including the jewelry the two women were adorned with. Despite
the grave chamber being looted for most of its content, some goods remained such as a chest containing wild apples and corn and another full of small articles like iron
clamps, combs and so on; there was also the remains of one or possibly two beds with a quantity of soft material likely the bed covering or hangings for a wall; four
carved posts in the shape of animal heads that exhibited beautiful and intricate workmanship; a number of buckets one which contained more wild apples, a stool and
equipment for weaving. The aft part of the ship was set up as a kitchen and well equipped with cooking utensils, a grindstone and other necessities for a kitchen. In
the forepart of the ship contained items of the ship like a gangway, tubs and balers, this is also where the little wagon was found with a bed laid on top of it and
four sledges. Based on the position of the wagon it is believed it was one of the first items placed upon the ship. Since the wagon and three of the sledges were so
elaborately decorated it is most likely they were used only for ceremonial purposes and used in the funeral processions when the bodies were brought onboard the ship;
the body of an ox laid in the after-part, four dogs in the fore-ship, and beside the last a heap of horse skeletons, showing that there was at least ten animals that
must have been slain there. The heads of the horses and dogs had all been severed from their bodies, while the head of the ox was found in a odd place, resting on the
great bed in the fore-ship.
The ship was moored in the mound with a great stone and a number of other stones had been thrown into the ship and around the ship before being covered with earth.
However in contrast to this some of the oars had been placed in position, though other oars laid to the east of the grave chamber and were not completed. The identity
of the women found in the grave remains a mystery even today; anything that could have perhaps helped with identifying them has been looted or lost with the passage of
time. The bones of the women were ruthlessly scattered about the grave site. One of the women’s entire skeleton was complete except for the certain bones of the right
hand and left arm, she was between forty and fifty years old. Of the remaining bones few in number suggests that a younger woman between twenty-five and thirty. One
possible explanation for the missing bones of the older woman is that the robbers in the process of stealing the jewelry simply tore the limbs off and carried them
away, in the case of the younger woman if her body was so richly adorned with jewels they simply carried her body off remains something that will not likely be ever
answered. Just as it is impossible to say one woman was a servant to the other or if it was a double burial within the same family. The only trace of clothing that
was found was the sole of a shoe that the robbers likely dropped in their plundering of the grave site, a further pair of shoes in the grave chamber and a sandal in
the fore-part. The Oseburg ship has been dated to 834 A.D..
In the Gokstad ship there was no valuable items remaining, with the exception of one sledge which could have been used at the funeral. A number of
wooden fittings belonging to the ship remained including a finely carved tiller, some kitchen vessels, a large copper cauldron, the remains of what is thought to be a
gaming board, and a few bronze buckles and ornaments from the clothing of the dead man. The remains of the man’s skeleton suggest that he was at least fifty years old
and quite possibly older. He suffered from chronic rheumatism which would have made him practically a cripple at his time of death. It is suggested that he might be
identified with Olad of Geirstađr, the King of Vestfold who died of fótverkr – “leg pains” in about 840 A.D.. There was at least twelve horses and a number of dogs that
had been killed during the funeral and placed in the mound outside the ship. Interestingly there were the remains of a peacock found inside the ship. Another interesting
feature of the burial site is the apparent deliberate damage done to some of the objects placed on the ship, such damage that could not be attributed to grave plundering,
in particular a sledge had been broken into fragments and the fragments were then scattered throughout the ship.
The Tune ship excavated as early as 1867 as a result little remains preserved. On the ship there was a cremation burial and a horse that was laid inside the grave
chamber. From the reports that exist the burial was thought to be that of a man, but so little remains of the burial that it can not be certain. Like the other two
graves this grave site had been robbed as well.
Using burial chambers onboard the ships in which is demonstrated from the Oseburg ship, beds may have been placed for the dead to lay upon which contrasts the Vendel
graves where the practice was to sit the warrior upright in the stern; the same method also applied to women as seen in the Oseburg ship and other ship burials outside
of the Vendel graves as suggested by the Tune ship in the district of Alsike, where there has been a number of ship burial excavations whose finds resemble in many
aspects and ways those ship burials at the Vendel cemetery, which also contained the remains of women. Unfortunately the poor grave state from grave plundering the
details on individual graves has been lost and remains uncertain. From the available information it has been theorized that the dead lay or sat in their ships like
those at the Vendel graves.
Lindqvist has tried to establish a connection between the burial chamber in the three ships to the rough chambers supported by wooden posts which
seem to be the place where the dead were burnt at Old Uppsala. Apart from this similarity the personal processions that surrounded the body, the kitchen utensils in
the after-part of the ship, number of animal sacrifices and their locations inside and outside the ship are all characteristics found at the Vendel and Tune grave
sites, the only substantial difference being the beheading of the animals which is part of a new practice.
Old Uppsala Burial Mounds
In 1906 Shetelig in the Viking Club Saga Book estimated that the number of ship burials in Scandinavia proper in four figures, using evidence found
of the same practices in lands colonized by Norway and Sweden in the Viking Age. In Finland and north Russia have been the location of several finds from as old as the
seventh century in Finland. There has even been the discovery of several burial ships in Iceland, the elaborateness of these graves does not compare to that of Oseburg,
Gokstad or Tune but are still important nonetheless. By comparison to the rest of Scandinavia Denmark has little evidence of ship burial, the most notable find being in
1935 located in Ladby, Isle of Fyen near Odense, Sweden. However in Norway there have been discoveries of ship burials on such a grand scale with as many as eleven
horses sacrificed in addition to several dogs. Although the body was missing from that ship burial just as the most valuable items and grave goods, a piece of bronze
used as a coupling for leashing the dogs was found, upon examination the piece was so elaborated decorated with the Jellinge style of ornamentation that flourished in
the early tenth century. In 1909 a large barrow in Brittany containing a chieftain was excavated and a large number of grave goods and animal bones were found. Although
the human remains were in poor shape it is thought the ship burial contained two people. On the Isle of Man a small ship burial was found in 1928 that contained the
remains of a horse. Despite the examples of ship burials listed here the overall evidence for ship burials is small even though the Norse created settlements throughout
the British Isles. There is only a small number of graves in the Hebrides and the Orkneys that contain rivets which indicates that ships were burnt or buried in those
When looking before the Viking Age for examples of ship burial there have been finds in Southeast England with the first discovery being a tumulus at Snape Common, near
Aldeburgh. It was during the excavation in 1862 of a group of barrows that the remains of a clinker-built ship about 48 feet in length was found undisturbed under the
largest burrow. However nothing was found inside the ship except two masses of human hair, fragments of a green glass globet from early Anglo-Saxon style, and a gold ring
from the late Roman period. The find of the glass and ring made the probably date of the burial in early Anglo-Saxon period placing the time of burial around the sixth or
fifth century. In 1939 the earlier date was to a large extent confirmed by the amazing discovery made at Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge in Suffolk.
It is here a number of mounds were found standing high above the river Deben, the year before two smaller mounds had been excavated where the traces
of a ship 18 to 20 feet in length with a rounded stern were found containing only a few gold fragments with obvious signs of being plundered. The second mound held the
cremation remains with grave goods that would date the burial to about sixth to seventh century, but there is insufficient evidence to pinpoint the date. The third and
largest of the mounds was excavated in 1940 with the most astonishing find of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial that was on a royal scale. The ship in the mound had been dragged
from the river about half a mile away and lowered into the mound from above, although the wood had rotted away the outline of the ship could be clearly seen, allowing the
determination that the ship was a clinker-built design, that could hold thirty-eight rowers with a total length of 85 feet. At the mid-ship a burial chamber had been
built of rough oak boards and with a gable-ended roof probably ridged with turf. An attempt to plunder the grave had failed giving the depth the grave was at the robbers
simply gave up, the only damage done to the grave goods came from the collapse of the roof of the burial chamber after many years after being built from the weight of the
sand constantly pressing down on it. This find provided a rare opportunity to study a ship burial on a grand scale that was in fairly good condition and untouched by grave
The grave goods were found on the floor of the burial chamber, it is possible that some of the goods may have at one time been hanging upon the wall
before the collapse of the roof. There is a wide variety in the grave goods, something that other graves had lacked due to the plundering by grave robbers. Some of the
goods played a role in the ceremony of the funeral for the king, for example a shield boss that was too big for practical use as well as an iron objected with a bull’s
head, a great whetstone each end decorated with strange human heads. Amongst the grave goods was a sword in its sheath, a magnificent helmet with a bronze face plate
enriched with gold and silver, an iron bladed weapon, an iron axe as well as a number of other kinds of axes, angons and socketed spearheads thrust through the handle
of a bronze bowl. Chain mail was also found but was in very bad condition, also found was nine silver bowls seven which are perfectly preserved, two silver spoons and
a number of horns that have silver mounts that were unfortunately crushed with the collapse of the roof, a great silver dish made by Byzantine crafters that contained
a smaller dish underneath it, six bottles made from gourds, a silver dipper and a small bowl, two bronze hanging bowls that were likely hanging in the burial chamber
before the roof collapse, a wooden tub and three bronze cauldrons with the iron tackle used to support them. Of the remaining grave goods it is believed they were
personal in nature to the king, a small musical instrument, a little tray of fine wood decorated with garnets, two rich gold clasps in cloisonné work that might have
been for the shoulders of a cuirass, golden purse frame, two buckles, some gold plaques, a strap end, and other small items of similar kind. All the ornaments except
the largest buckle laid in a position to suggest that they had been hung upon the walls. Found amongst the textile grave goods was a large leather purse with a silver
handle and a smaller purse with a silver handle. In one of the purses were forty Merovingian gold coins.
All of the important and personal grave goods were placed at the west end of the burial chamber. At the east end is where the cauldrons and household vessels with horns
and dishes being between the two of them. The body of the king seems to have been expected to lay in the west with the important and personal grave goods but this is
only speculation as there was absolutely no human remains ever found in the entire burial site. Even the position of the buckles and helmet did not give the impression
that the dead king may have been wearing them.
This is not the first time that a grave site has been found empty as strange as it may sound, there have been Vendel graves, a Danish ship burial
in Fyen, and in the ship burial at Snape Common that contained no traces of human remains. In those cases the graves had been plundered or in such poor condition that
no determination could be made. Archaeologist are confident that the human remains that should have been in the Sutton Hoo burial mound could not have vanished without
a trace, the grave had never been robbed and was in remarkable shape, the plausible explanation is that the burial mound was erected as a cenotaph in memory of a king
who was lost at sea. Using this explanation may explain other empty graves throughout Scandinavia that contain no traces of human remains. The Farmanns barrow in
Norway is a definite example of such practice most likely erected as a monument for one or more members of the Vestfold royal family, the same family that King Harald
the Fair-haired belonged too. Brřgger during his account of the grave mentions other examples in Scandinavia that contained no human remains. In Greenland graves from
the Christian period were excavated, one of the graves contained a stick carved with runes. The stick appears to have replaced the body of a person lost at sea.
Another example of elaborate burial from Saxon times is the Broomfield grave, which was also void of human remains, the carbon and soot found was in
the early archeological excavation to be proof of a cremation, however later studies suggest that it is actually deposits left from decayed woodwork. One more puzzle
of the Sutton Hoo grave is the basin of rough clay, which seems to have been placed above the roof of the burial chamber some suggestions have been that the basin was
used for libations.
The evidence from the Sutton Hoo grave dates the grave to the early part of the seventh century. Numismatists are disposed from the evidence of the
coins to select a date about the middle of the century around 630 A.D., but such a late date is improbable since it is well known that by 640 A.D. Christianity was well
established in East Anglia, and such a burial like the Sutton Hoo burial would have been a reversion to Heathen practices which there is no evidence that this was
really what happened. If the date period 600 – 640 A.D. is accepted it seems most likely that the burial at Sutton Hoo if it was really a cenotaph is a cenotaph to
King Redwald, who ruled East Anglia from about 593 to 617 A.D. and was the only one of the kings to hold the title High King of Britian, a title he retained for several
years before his death. Chadwick suggests that the king did not fully convert to Christianity maintaining some of his Heathen beliefs, that Rendlesham which is only four
miles away from the burial mound was actually the palace of King Redwald. Chadwick believes that king’s wife supported him in his decision to remain ties to the old
customs was whose honour the burial mound was raised to and rendered more probable by the fact that King Redwald would have been the richest king in England at the end
of his reign, these theories of Chadwick were also supported by Bede.
Two of the barrows at the Sutton Hoo grave site have proved to be ship-graves which formed part of the cemetery that dates back into the Heathen period, which the chief
grave has remained remarkably untouched. The excavation of the remaining barrows may lend more evidence to pinpointing the date of the treasure found at the grave site.
The Sutton Hoo burial provides with no doubt an elaborate burial in the Kingdom of East Anglia during Anglo-Saxon times that corresponds to the date of the Vendel graves
in Sweden. The placement of the burial chamber over the ship in the Sutton Hoo grave gives a parallel to the later ship graves during the Viking Period as well as with
the traces of the burial chamber in the Uppsala grave mounds. It is the barrows found at Snape, which is where the other ship burial was found, would indicate another
second cemetery farther along the East Anglian coast; if the date is correct for the burial it would mean a ship funeral in the British Isles as early as any of the
recorded ship funerals in Scandinavia. The emphasis that Shetelig placed on the close cultural ties between Scandinavia and England were confirmed by the Sutton Hoo
treasure showing the resemblance between it and the objects found in the Vendel graves which will become even clearer upon the restoration of the grave goods and the
further examination of the goods.
In Scandinavia there are ship graves that date back to the Iron Age with a long gap during this time cremation and inhumation graves mimicking Roman
fashions were the norm. By the seventh century ship funerals on a elaborate scale was practiced in Scandinavia and Anglo Saxon England. The time gap has been puzzling
as well as the isolation of the ship form graves in Gotland and the graves on the other side of the Baltic in the early Iron Age. The isolation of these graves is not
so much if the turn from grave forms alone to the ships as a symbol with the knowledge of the religion in the Bronze Age in Northern Europe.
This knowledge comes from pictures and symbols left by the people on the great walls of rock in the mountains of Scandinavia. Unlike the drawings of nature and hunting
scenes as depicted in caves from the Paleolithic period, the Bronze Age drawings consisted of figures and groups reoccurring many times on the same rock face in widely
separated regions, depicted geometrically and conventionally though often they are spirited and graphic enough. A sample of the favorite symbols and figures used are
wheels, soles of feet, snakes, ploughs, axes and ships. While human figures are combined with all of those symbols to form processions, marriage groups and battle scenes,
or else are shown dancing, leaping, riding or fighting. A lot of discussion has been given as to the purpose the figures on the rock have. It is generally accepted that
the figures play a significant religious and ritual purpose, Almgren put forth arguments that the figures` effect is that they depict actual ceremonies supported by the
evidence from art and ritual in other parts of the world and periods of civilization.
There has been finds of ritual fire traces and slain animals near the rock engravings in Sweden that help to confirm Almgren’s argument. From the
pictures it seems clear that the pictures are based upon a fertility religion connected with the worship of the sun and possibly including the concept of rebirth as
Almgren stated in his arguments. These same ideas arising in the East can be seen fully developed in the art and religion of Egypt and some how managed to travel to
Scandinavia during the Bronze Age. With this ritual the ship has evidently played an important role for it is shown continually and sometimes with wheels, sun-disks,
trees, snakes, horned animals, men dancing, leaping or worshipping, the human figures are sometimes in the ship itself, sometimes they form a group within it and on
occasion seem to be carrying it in their hands.
Some of the symbols found on the rock and the ship among them are also found on the walls of tombs, on gravestones, and in the neighborhood of graves; and the ship and
the axe in particular were found in Central Europe confined to the graves alone. There has always been a lot of controversy as to the existence of an early cult of the
dead, that was connected to sun worship and fertility beliefs that developed until becoming primarily a religion living away from the grave. Another explanation could be
that if there was an earlier cult it could have been one that worshiped the sun and had fertility beliefs later including beliefs and practices connected to the dead,
passing from the principle of rebirth in the world of nature to that of man after death. It is Almgren who supports the second possible explanation, admitting that the
close connection of certain symbols with graves is evidence in the other direction but prove on the other hand that rock engravings in Sweden are not as some have
claimed found only in the neighborhood of burial places. Evidence is insufficient for the definite conclusion to be established but with the certainly the development of
sun worship in Egypt, where fuller records of it have been left than anywhere else in the world strongly supports Almgren’s side of the argument.
All that can be learn of the Bronze Age ritual and religion is likely to be important for the better understanding of ship funeral; first because the
ship symbol played so important a part in it and in Central Europe is confined the ship symbol is confined to the graves alone; secondly in Gotland there are rock
engravings near the ship form graves, this may help explain the mysterious origin there. There is no doubt that there is a link with the boat offerings recovered from
bogs dating to the Iron Age and furthermore recorded by Caesar as thank-offerings for victory, as in Ibid page 64; Caesar, De Bell Gallico, VI 17. An example of such a
sacrifice is what was discovered at Hjortspring which dated back to between the second and fourth centuries B.C. Many animal bones and weapons were found lying about a
large ship indicating it was clearly an offering. If it was know definitely what was the significance of the ship in the rock engravings, then the knowledge and
understanding should be more then halfway towards the meaning of the funeral ship.
The problem of the ship in the grave being based upon a real belief in a voyage of the dead is the most tantalizing of all those presented by Scandinavian funeral customs.
With all the evidence for ship funeral there is no direct answer to the problem. There are two other customs found on the most part outside Scandinavia may have a
connection with the problem; these are the practice of laying coins in the mouth of the dead and that of burying wagons in the grave with the dead. The placing of
coins in the mouth of the dead was adopted by the Teutonic peoples mainly in Germany during the time of the Roman Empire. It is Stjerna that laid great emphasis on this
and argued that the custom taken from the Greeks of providing the dead with fares for Charon developed in the north in the more elaborate practice of boats to the dead
that they might make the journey independently to the other shore. However this does not take into account the interest in the ship before the Iron Age. For this the
arguments made by Ebert provide some relevance. Ebert claims that by the time Germany had contact with the Greeks the Greeks would no longer have had any vital belief in
Charon and his boat to be passed on to the Germans, since by this time the Greeks belief in such things had been replaced by Asiatic mystery cults and their teachings.
Either the coins placed in the mouth of the dead were nothing more then a fashion imitated from the south or they had some different meaning and might as suggested by
Almgren be intended either as symbols of the possessions of the dead or as protective amulets for them. The other practice is more likely to be significant. Wagons that
are buried with the dead in Scythian, Thracian and Celtic graves, and probably like that in Oseberg ship were those used to carry the body to the tomb.
But when war chariots came to be buried in the grave of the La Téne period among the Celts we seem to be faced with a different conception, that of providing the dead
with what he will need in the next world. When a grave stone is found depicting the dead in a chariot leaving the earth, then Elbert claims that we will have a new idea
that of the chariot as a means of reaching another world. Wagons are first found in Northern graves during the transition period between the Bronze and Iron Ages, that
is at the same time that ship form graves first appear in Gotland. It is possible that this period the conception of the death journey may have entered the North, and
that the wagon and chariot used by an inland people were naturally replaced by the boat and ship among a people whom travel meant primarily a journey by sea as is stated
as Almgren’s opinion. Ebert however is inclined to think that we find traces of the idea earlier still in the coffins of wood, formed from the hollowed out trunk of a
tree, in which the dead were laid in the middle of the Bronze Age. These coffins were introduced independently of the practice of cremation and at around the same time
the first rock engravings began, so that there may be a connection between the two.
Even if it is decided that the conception of a journey made by the dead came in some time during the Bronze Age from the southern regions of Europe, it does not
necessarily mean that the ship funerals that first began in the fifth and sixth centuries were inspired by the same belief. It is the orientation of the grave that
suggest it is true that the second introduction of the ship was not unconnected with the first. Just like the Gotland graves the dead lie with head to the north and
feet to the south, so the same is also true with the earlier graves of the Norwegian boat graves.
The gap in time is enormous and the evidence for the conception of the journey to another world behind the Northern boat grave of the Migration period and the
Viking Age is hard to establish. Lindqvist believes that the introduction of the ship in the grave arose out of the desire to proved the dead with as complete an
equipment as possible, influenced partly by the example of the Merovingian funeral rites on the continent. Lindqvist further instances the stones weighing down the
Oseburg ship in its mound, and the mooring of it to a great stone with a rope. The burial chamber is another argument against any belief in a journey taken by the
dead; we have many good examples of it in Scandinavia and in one grave from Karmř in Norwaythe timbered grave chamber was not even in the ship, but rather had its
roof resting on two parallel stone walls built outside it. On the other hand it is well to remember that some of the oars in the Oseberg ship were laid in position
as though waiting for the rowers.
It may prove misleading to concentrate too much on the most elaborate graves; it is the amazing popularity of the custom among all sections of the
people that is perhaps the most impressive feature, and this can hardly be explained by changing fashions at court. Moreover in Ebert’s survey of the evidence for ship
funeral brought him to a different conclusion from that of Lindqvist. The ships and the gravestones with ships depicted on them which precede the burials in Scandinavia,
and the incomplete models of ships and ship forms in stone which seem to mark the decadence of the custom late in the Viking Age, give the impression that clear
development can be traced and that the symbolism of the ship in the graves of the late heathen period was something more important than the mere desire to give the dead
all that he / she had enjoyed in life for his / her sojourn in the grave.
But although our knowledge of religion in the Bronze Age in the North is confined to the inarticulate carvings on the rocks and to grave goods buried in
the earth, the late heathen period has left other records to which we may turn. Before attempting to draw any conclusions from the archaeological evidence regarding the
dead, we must see what ideas concerning them are left in the literature of the North which preserves memories of heathen times.
This concludes the sections dealing with The Evidence of Archaeology in HRD’s Road to Hel. The next section is Funeral Customs: The Evidence of
Literature which is the counter part to the first section. Some of the information that is in HRD’s Road to Hel may prove to be dated however it still provides an
excellent foundation in understand funeral customs and belief in the afterlife.