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A 1,000-year-old Viking boat grave measuring more than 13 feet (4 metres) has been unearthed in Norway with bones and sheet bronze still inside.

(Daily Mail)

The tomb was found during excavations beneath the market square of the Norwegian city of Trondheim.

While none of the vessel's wood remains, preserved lumps of rust and nails indicate a boat was buried at the site between the 7th and 10th centuries AD.

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Ships were a Viking's most prized possession, and if a high-born clansman did not die at sea he would be buried in a ship on land, often with weapons and pottery.

The newly uncovered grave, which pointed north to south, was found with two long bones inside.

Like the boat, these bones were oriented north to south, and experts will now perform DNA analyses to confirm that they are human.

Other finds included a small piece of sheet bronze propped against one of the bones, as well as what are likely personal items from the grave.

The boat-shaped cavity and its contents was uncovered last week by archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), based in Oslo.

In a pothole dug through the middle of the boat, the team found a piece of a spoon.

'We also found a key to a small box in the grave,' team member Julian Cadamarteri told Norwegian daily Adresseavisen.

'If it originates from the grave, it [the site] is likely to date from anywhere between the 600s and the 900s.'

The location of the burial, away from Trondheim's modern harbour and the fjord, suggests the grave dates from the late Iron Age or early Viking Age.

There was likely a burial mound over the boat and grave, said NIKU’s Dr Knut Paasche, a specialist in ancient boats.

He said the boat type is similar to an Åfjord boat, which were common along the Trøndelag coast at the time.

This type of boat was relatively flat at the bottom to help it traverse the shallow waters of the nearby river Nidelven.

The vessels used in Viking burials were real ships rather than models, and corpses were often laid to rest with a mixture of weapons, pottery, and drinking horns.

Ship burials had important religious meaning for the Norse people, and cremation was a key part of the holy ceremony.

Those buried in ships or boats were almost exclusively elite warriors and chiefs.

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