Oppeby – Viking place where pagan and Christian meet

By on April 18, 2017

The archaeologists of Stockholm County Museum will examine a grave field from the Viking Age at Oppeby, located just west of Nyköping city, from April 24 to June 9th. The reason for the survey is primarily that new properties will be built on the ground and that the knowledge about the burial fields should be documented for the future. In connection with the excavation, our archaeologists will keep open and free views for the public. Welcome!

The grave field in Oppeby has emerged during the Viking Age, about 800-1050 AD. In the grave field, both pagan and Christian tombs have been found. The runestones in Släbro, a few kilometers northwest of the grave field, are among the oldest found in this part of Södermanland.

Thanks to the runestones, we can understand that Christianity broke through here early. One of the questions we ask in connection with the excavation is whether all the people in the area were Christians at this time, or if the pagan religion still remained parallel, says Johan Runer, archaeologist at Stockholm County Museum and project leader for the excavation.

The pagan funeral was probably a spectacle for the survivors. The dead was cremated fully dressed and often got objects with itself to the death kingdom. If the person had been rich, often more and more fine items were placed next to the dead, sometimes even animals were being sacrificed to accompany the burning fire. When the body and objects had been transformed into ashes, dragged the left surviving rocks and land to the graveyard. The tomb could consist of only stones (stonework or landmark), or of soil (piles). In the grave field in Oppeby they have found both stone settlements and heights.

The grave of the Christian was much simpler and not as great as the pagan grave. It is about small and low stone settlements, sometimes there is no grave superstructure entirely. The dead was no longer burned, but buried in a chest or in sweeping. There were also not so many objects laid down in the grave. If so, it was mainly for magic-religious reasons.

– It’s always important to carefully document an excavation and save all the findings from it. Knowledge about the burial fields thus remains in the future, says Johan Runer.

For anyone who wants to know more about the place and the find, the following dates apply:

Wednesdays: 10, 17, 31 May and 7 June, all dates at 13:00

Thursdays: 11, 18, 24 May and 1, 8 June, all dates at 18:00

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