Vestfold Ship Burials and Hyllestad Quernstone Quarries
VIKING MONUMENTS AND SITES / Vestfold Ship Burials and Hyllestad Quernstone Quarries is part of the Tentative list of Norway in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
This Viking serial nomination comprises land-, sea- and townscapes in nine nominated properties from six nations are outstanding examples representing the wide diversity of this early maritime culture. The Vestfold Ship Burials consist of three sites situated in the county of Vestfold on the west side of the Oslo fjord and they add significantly to the understanding of Viking age and the ship's mythological and symbolic role in life and death in Viking culture. Hyllestad Quernstone Quarries are located on the west coast of Norway and testifies to the mass-production and bulk-trade emerged in the Viking Age which have been distributed in wide-ranging trade networks to Denmark, Sweden and also in several towns and settlements elsewhere in northern Europe.
Map of Vestfold Ship Burials and Hyllestad Quernstone QuarriesLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Visited in August, 2023 during long Scandinavian tour (Sweden, Norway, Denmark). Original nomination comprise of 4 components but one of them (Hyllestad Quernstone Quarries) is inconveniently located on the western coastal part of Norway (north of Bergen, more than 500 km from Oslo, including ferry crossing) I decided to focus on 3 other locations that are placed near Oslo.
The Gokstad Mound (Gokstadhaugen, different name: Kongshaugen) lies on the outskirts of Sandefjord, google coordinates 59.14027233638874, 10.253360500311365. It is a big burial tumulus (5 meters high, 50 meters in diameter) where one of Viking kings / chieftains was buried together with his boat and other equipment. The ship was constructed in late IX century and discovered in late XIX century during excavations. Tumulus seemed to be plundered in ancient times as no gold or silver artefacts were found but still archaeologists discovered remnants of riding equipment, sledge, tent as well as human and animal bones. The site currently is open free of charge, fenced and looked as well maintained. Apart from the tumulus itself there are also stones symbolizing the ship and bilingual signs (Norwegian and English) describing the place and its history. There is a small parking just outside the place (also free of charge).
The Oseberg Mound (Oseberghaugen) lies further north along the Norwegian coastline, near Tønsberg, google coordinates 59°18'27.8"N 10°26'48.7"E). If you drive by car you can park on official place (Parkeringsplass for Osebergrunden on Bogata road) or just near the site (Romsveien). It looks pretty similar to the previous mound, although it is smaller (around 40 meters in diameter). Also contained a viking ship and remnants of human bones (women, apparently relatives of ruling dynasty). Original construction (late IX century) was similarly rediscovered in the beginning of 20 century being a kind of sensation that time. Oseberg comparing to the previous one is a bit less organized (no information nor tables describing the site).
The third site is the most complex of the three places. Located just outside the town of Borre, google coordinates 59°22'58.9"N 10°28'17.7"E, it contains museum (Midgard vikingsenter), huge viking cemetery (The Borre Mounds, Borrehaugene) and reconstructed viking house (Gildehallen, Vestfoldmuseene IKS). For me it was the most interesting site. Good museum, relatively big burial site (Viking cemetery consists of seven large and twenty one small mounds) and carefully reconstructed Viking long house (similar to those from Fyrkat and Trelleborg / Viking Age Ring Fortresses). Burial mounds are protected as a National Park (also nice panorama of Oslofjorden).
Every visit to those places should be combined with seeing original ships – moved to Oslo and displayed in the museum (Bygdøy Peninsula, google coordinates 59.90464374375575, 10.6847752872598). Unfortunately the Viking Ship Museum is currently closed and will reopen in 2027 but having visited it in the past I must say it was a great experience.
Chances for future inscription – quite high having in mind that Viking Age Ring Fortresses are already there (for sure they are more spectacular and better preserved than Nonnebakken or several locations from Lower German Limes). It may also be a good half day trip Oslo by car.
More info about Gokstad Mound https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/constructing-and-deconstructing-the-gokstad-mound/460EA38532CB9925EBD7C9F0237268B9
And Oseberg site https://www.history.co.uk/articles/history-of-the-oseberg-viking-burial-ship
More info about Borre / practicalities https://vestfoldmuseene.no/midgard-vikingsenter/en/visit-midgard-viking-centre
More about Vikings from the Viking Ship Museum (site in English) https://www.vikingtidsmuseet.no/english/
Places on the photo, bottom left, than clockwise: Gokstad - The bilingual interpretive sign, Borre national Park, Oseberg Mound, Gokstad Mound
On the way from the Oslo Torp Airport to the city of Oslo I stopped at the Borre cemetery, which is part of Vestfold Ship Burials, part of Viking Monuments TWHS.
I used this site for bus from Torp through Borre to Oslo: https://www.vkt.no/english
There is a direct bus from the Oslo Torp Airport to Oslo, but because I stopped at the cemetery, I ended up taking 2 buses to the cemetery and 3 more buses and 2 trains from the cemetery to Oslo eventually, all in one afternoon. This was due to the fact that, because 4th public bus from Kopstadkrysset did not come (A local told me that you were supposed to call the bus company if you want to be picked up), I had to take another bus to the Holmestrand train station, and because part of the railroad between the Holmestrand station and the Oslo Central Station was under repair, I had to take two trains and yet another bus.
But I would never hate Norway. It is my #1 favorite country in the world.
Before visiting the cemetery I checked out the museum and a reconstructed Viking hall nearby.
The museum was created over 15 years ago, but it did not seem to be in a good shape. Some of the collections did not even have tags with names or explanations, which was a surprise for such a wealthy nation.
The Viking hall was similar to the reconstructed Viking building in Lofoten Islands in Norway. But this particular hall was meant as a place for feast. In other words the hall was a party venue for Vikings.
Then I walked to the cemetery, or the burial mounds, which was actually nothing extraordinary.
This was a day right after the Viking site in Germany was inscribed as a WHS. Norway certainly deserves a Viking-related site, but I'm not sure if this cemetery serves so well for the inscription. But there are 3 more sites included in this nomination, which I have not been to.
Read more from Tsunami here.
2011 Added to Tentative List
The site has 4 locations
28 Community Members have visited.