In a debate about berserkers, someone mentioned that berserker graves had been found and googling I found two articles who both are talking about a grave found I Hårup in Jutland Denmark:
The first one I read doesn’t really tell us much about why they think that man in the grave was a berserker. http://www.newhistorian.com/grave-axe-wielding-viking-berserker-found-denmark/6983/
His only reference is an article on News Corp Australia. I also found that article: Viking burial site in Denmark contained a warrior — and his enormous axe
The first I looked at said: “IT seems there’s some truth in the myths after all. Archaeologists in Denmark have found the burial site of a Viking ‘berserker’ warrior — complete with an oversized battle-axe”
The article reference archaeologist Kirsten Nelleman Nielsen (who they clearly think are a man) and say that the find is reported in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” from Saxo Institute at The University of Copenhagen. They don’t know it, but it’s a compendium of articles from a Symposium at the institute from 2016 (I went there myself and listened to the presentations). The journalist doesn’t seem to have read the article in the book, because he wrote: “His findings, Dead and buried in the Viking Age, have been published by the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen” [SIC!]
When I read through the article, none of its contents appears to be talking about berserkers. It only talks about the grave and says that an enormous axe was found in the grave.
The article in News Corp Australia also says: “It [the ax] was the sole possession found among the bones of a particularly strong man”. That is also an invention of the journalist because the article in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” says that there was very little human remains found and that they determined the sex of the buried peoples by the grave goods. That also follows that they couldn’t determinate the size or musculature of the buried man. I would surmise that the journalist thought, that a man buried with such a large ax, must have been big and muscular.
The journalist also reference these two articles:
None of those articles mentions a berserker.
It seems like the part of it being a berserker grave is an invention of the journalist at Australian News Corp and that others have referenced him on other pages. None of them read the original article. The journalist at “The new historian” even uses material not found in the Australian News Corp but the 2 articles linked from there, but not noticing, that those articles don’t talk about berserkers.
What you can read from the original article in “Dead and buried in the Viking Age” are that this grave original was with two wooden build rooms, the female had a lot of high-status grave goods in her grave and in the male grave, there was only found a very large axe. Later another grave room was added to the grave with a male also containing an axe. The article also says that axes are the weapon mostly found in Norse graves from the Viking Age.
The 2 articles that claim that the buried man was a berserker also base their interpretation on that his only grave-goods was the large axe. The problem with that interpretation is that in the burial-ground no organics material have been preserved. Segments of Wood, fur or cloths are only preserved when it was in contact with metal objects. So there could have been more in his grave, that hasn’t survived to this day.
The archaeologist estimates that the reason the man has a large axe in his grave is to mark his status as a warrior and a chieftain, but not a word of berserkers.
I have read the Danish version of the book from the Saxo Institute (the English version are a translation of that book):
Død og begravet – I vikingetiden, ed. Jens Ulriksen and Henriette Lyngstrøm, Copenhagen 2016.
This page was deleted by a mistake at the end of 2019. This blog post is from the old page and has been reposted on the new page. The original article was posted in September 2016