If you didn’t realize there was such thing as a Viking graveyard, well, you’re not the only one.
I’d never heard of one until I found myself pulling into the harbour in Aalborg, Denmark during a cruise through Scandinavia. My husband who just so happens to be of Viking heritage himself (what’s up, Sweden!) was chomping at the bit to explore this mystical placed called Lindholm Høje, and since marriage is all about compromise I agreed to tag along instead of touring the city as originally intended.
After dropping about $40 on a taxi just to get to the site which is about a 15 minute drive from Aalborg’s waterfront (nobody ever said Denmark was cheap), we arrived at the foot of a forest covered in moss so green it seemed to reflect its hue onto everything, even the solid tree trunks. I was immediately enchanted…despite feeling slightly unsettled by the sound of a constant barrage of shots ringing out from a nearby gun range.
As rain drizzled overhead, we made our way through the grove and emerged to find a gorgeous sight: a lush, grassy hilltop dotted with large stones, home to the Viking graveyard. Dating back to the Iron Age, the sprawling site has 682 cremation graves marked by rocks, and is considered to be Scandinavia’s largest Viking burial ground. It was used by villagers from approximately 400 to 1000 AD, and preserved by shifting sands up to four metres thick that covered the hills. The phenomenon also sheltered a village which was excavated in the 1950s, unveiling artifacts including a Viking long house, farming equipment such as ploughs, and even a sword.
We wandered through the field trying to take it all in, alone other than a group of sheep and their baby lambs lazing grazing nearby. Once we finally finished marvelling at the landscape, we made our way back through the forest and into the neighbouring Lindholm Høje Museum, which hosts an Viking exhibition.
Covering two levels, the museums has two distinct themes. The first floor details what life was like in the village, showing off a typical home and equipment such as wagons. There are also stone pots, brooches and combs on display, which were recovered during the excavation.
The floor below houses an exhibition about ancient times in the surrounding Limfjorden area, with displays including daggers, arrows, axes and flint extracted from nearby mines—because if there’s one thing we all know about Vikings, it’s that they were always ready for battle.
The museum doesn’t take too long to get through, so just as we were wrapping up our self-guided tour ready to head back to the ship, we came across one final exhibit that just might have been the most fascinating of them all: real skeletons.
What else would you expect when touring a Viking graveyard?!
IF YOU GO:
How to get there: A taxi ride to Lindholm Høje takes about 15 minutes from Aalborg’s city centre. Alternatively, hop on the #2 bus.
Hours of operation and admission: The graveyard is free for visitors to explore, and open from dawn until dusk. Click here to see admission fees for the museum, as well as hours of operation.
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