A group of archaeologists have found a unique Viking age site, 300 meters (984 feet) beyond the entrance of Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, that appears t
A group of archaeologists have found a unique Viking age site, 300 meters (984 feet) beyond the entrance of Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, that appears to have been used for Viking rituals. The most amazing cave find was a boat-shaped structure made of rocks. Rare artifacts like beads from the Arabian Peninsula, remains of orpiment (a deep colored, orange-yellow arsenic sulfide) were also found inside this ancient cave. A group of archaeologists and researchers from the USA, Iceland and Norway undertook excavations and field studies in the Icelandic cave of Viking rituals, and recently published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science .
Iceland’s Surtshellir cave, named after the Viking fire giant Surtr, was the site of satanic Viking rituals according to the latest research paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (John Charles Dollman / Public domain )
Surtshellir Cave, Norse Mythology, and Dark Viking Rituals
Named after the Viking fire giant, Surtr, Surtshellir cave is one of the many lava caves located in western Iceland. Incidentally, it is the longest lava cave in the country, approximately a mile long (1.6 km) and the first known lava tube in the world. The cave is located near a volcano that erupted 1100 years ago, and amongst the locals, there’s an aura of mystery and intrigue. The Icelanders inhabiting the nearby mountains say that murderous ghosts and their spirits reside within, prompting numerous superstitions and folklore.
According to Norse mythology, Surtr was present at both the creation of the world and its destruction, after the Battle of Ragnarok. Ragnarok refers to the events foreshadowing the great battle, leading to the death of a great number of important figures like Odin, Loki, Thor, and others, along with natural disasters and the submersion of the world.
It is a massively important event in Viking history, and occupies not just the popular imagination, but is also the subject of serious debate, study, and academic scholarship. “The impacts of this eruption must have been unsettling, posing existential challenges for Iceland’s newly arrived settlers,” wrote the authors of the study.
The outline of the stone boat found in the Icelandic cave where Viking rituals were held. The boat was surrounded with the remains of various domestic animals. ( Journal of Archaeological Science )
Nordic Viking Rituals And The Evidence Found in the Cave
Radiocarbon dating, fieldwork from three occasions (2001, 2012, and 2013), and tephrochronological dates provided the ground for Bayesian analyses that revealed that the cave was formed as a result of the first volcanic eruption witnessed by northern Europeans, some 1100 years ago.
The Nordic Vikings, who were seafaring conquerors from southern Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) were at their peak between the 8 th and 11 th centuries AD in Europe. They began colonizing Iceland shortly after the eruption. The researchers noted that Iceland has had 205 eruptions, amongst 30 active volcanoes since the settlers came. However, they were only to realize the extent of this much after settling.
To ward off any future threats and eruptions, Vikings entered the cave once the lava cooled and constructed the boat made of stone . One-hundred-twenty meters (394 feet) around the boat were scattered bones of sheep, goats, horses and pigs, which the researchers term the “dark zone.” They think these animals were burnt in and around the boat to ward off the threat of Surtr and his potentially flame-engulfing-apocalyptical final act that would destroy humanity.
The researchers stated, “The world would end when Surtr, an elemental being present at the world’s creation, would kill the last of the gods in the battle of Ragnarök and then engulf the world in flames.”
There is also evidence that even after Iceland converted to Christianity, Ragnarok was assimilated into the Christian fold as Judgment Day – the cave being the place where Satan would emerge for this. This is backed by a set of scale weights found in the boat, which were placed in the shape of a cross, and would corroborate this hypothesis.
Beads and other artifacts from the Middle East, including Turkey were also found in the cave but researchers have yet to understand their significance and how they traveled so far. ( Kathy / Adobe Stock)
According to Live Science , the artifacts from the Middle East, and even Turkey have left the researchers confused.” Finding it inside this cave was a great shock,” according to the leader of the research team, Kevin Smith, the deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University.
Sixty-three beads were discovered near the structure of the cave. Three of them have been directly traced to Iraq. Also, the remains of orpiment minerals have been traced to eastern Turkey. Perhaps it was used to decorate the cave, but there isn’t enough evidence to support this.
Top image: Evidence of Viking rituals and battles against evil have been discovered in Iceland’s Surtshellir lava cave along with a stone boat and unusual artifacts like beads from the Middle East. Source: danielegay / Adobe Stock
By Rudra Bhushan