In the Viking age it was tradition to burn the dead. This might seem weird but one explanation is given by the traveler Ibn Fadlan after experiencing the burial of a Viking chief.
According to Ibn Fadlan, the Viking was dressed in his most beautiful clothes and with expansive gifts he was placed on a ship which was burned on a river. When asking why they did this, the Vikings explained that the Viking should not be eaten by worms or the earth but instead through smoke directly begin his life after death.
When the Vikings were buried at land, like on the great burial site at Lindholm Høje, stones formed as a ship was placed around the fire to signal the journey to the underworld.
The Vikings was very aware that the dead needed gifts, dogs, and supplies on their journey and in their life after death. The burial grounds and their content therefore tell a lot about the death including their gender, their occupation as well as their status in society.
A visit to Lindholm Høje therefore allows a great insight into the Viking society and their beliefs and customs. Walking through the great burial ground and more than 150 stone ships makes history come alive and connects you to the customs of Vikings a thousand years ago. It almost makes you experience the Vikings setting their loved ones out on their last journey.
'Follow the Vikings' is a collection of ten small educational pieces on Vikings, published in Danish by forlagetepsilon.dk. The ten pieces are all linked with historical Viking sites in Denmark and therefore allow you to both figuratively and literally follow the Vikings.
• Follow the Vikings – Kings
• Follow the Vikings – Castles
• Follow the Vikings – Playing
• Follow the Vikings – Legends
• Follow the Vikings – A king and a ship
• Follow the Vikings – The everyday life
• Follow the Vikings – Ships
• Follow the Vikings – Offerings
• Follow the Vikings – Rune stones