Viking Burials: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about the Viking burial rituals. The customs vary slightly according to how wealthy the dead individual was and where they lived, but they all revolve around the Vikings belief in an afterlife.

  • Vikings were buried with everything they might need in the next world. The items (or grave goods) would vary according to the status and profession of the deceased individual. A warrior, for example, would be buried with his best weapons and armour, whereas a farmer’s wife might be buried with her wool spinning tools.

  • The wealthiest Vikings were buried with their ships under great burial mounds. The body was placed within the ship along with all of their best belongings, such as tapestries, furniture, clothes, weapons, kitchen utensils, jewellery and tools.
  • Although people often think that there is a ship under all of the Viking burial mounds, more often than not they house a burial chamber.
  • Sometimes the ships containing the body were set alight on funeral pyres to speed up the journey to the afterlife.
  • Ships were very expensive, so many Vikings marked their burial site with stones and boulders arranged in the outline of a ship.
  • Sometimes Vikings were buried with their horses, dogs, oxen and even their servants.
  • In the British Isles, the Vikings adopted the practice of using carved gravestones to mark the site of a burial. These often contained images of animals and were painted in bright colours.

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