Ancient, News

Unearthed Rare 1000 Year-Old Viking Arrowhead

‘Viking’ is the modern name given to the people of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden). These people raided, pirated, traded, and lived throughout parts of Europe from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries. The Vikings were expert sailors and navigators who travelled as far as North Africa, North America, and the Middle East.

The Vikings were initially pagan, but many later converted to Christianity. However, their conversion was a slow one. They built wooden churches that had a mix of Christian icons and Norse elements during this period. Experts hypothesize that the Vikings built around 2,000 of these stave churches. Today, less than 30 remain.

The Vikings were also renowned for using beautifully crafted weapons to display their status. Their arsenal included spears, wooden shields, axes, swords, and hunting bows. According to their custom, all free men were required to carry weapons at all times.

The Vikings were master metal workers and were able to craft iron arrowheads in many different shapes and sizes. Remains of their weaponry are still uncovered to this day, a testimony to their skill.

The Viking Arrowhead
The three bladed Viking arrowhead found in Norway.

Discovery of the Viking Three-bladed Arrowhead

Glacial archaeologists concluded that the arrowhead belonged to the Viking era. The discovery site was a significant hunting spot dating back approximately 1,000 to 1,200 years ago as the Vikings were known to hunt reindeer around that ice patch.

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The stony hunting ground is present above the treeline and would have made for great cover for the huntsmen. The discovery however was still a surprise because archaeologists had not previously seen such a weapon in that part of the land.

Lars Pilø, a glacial archaeologist from the ‘Secret of The Ice,’ talked about the discovery. “We have never found an arrowhead like this before [in that region],” Pilø informed Live Science.

“Three-bladed arrowheads are known from the Viking Age in Norway, but they are very rare compared to the normal two-bladed ones,” he confirmed.

The Use of the Three-bladed Weapon

The arrowhead with scale.
 Photo Credit: Secrets of the Ice

Initially, archaeologists assumed that the Vikings used the arrowhead in wars. They wondered whether it was designed to penetrate the chainmail often worn by the foes of the Vikings. However, they rejected the hypothesis after finding out that the weapon was too broad for that purpose.

The next most plausible explanation came from Vikings’ hunting practices. The Vikings were hunter-gatherers and fishermen, so it was safe to assume the arrowhead was a hunting weapon. “Three-bladed arrowheads are used to inflict a larger flesh wound in the game that was hunted — in this case, reindeer,” Pilø elaborated.

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The discovery of the three-bladed arrowhead also strengthened the theory that reindeer hunting was at its peak during the Viking era. Simultaneously, the North Sea region’s demand for pelts and antlers increased. As a result, reindeer hunting dramatically increased as well. The unsustainable hunting led to the near extinction of reindeer, however.

Home of the Vikings
The 1000 +year-old Viking arrowhead was found in a melted ice patch in Norway’s Jotunheimen Mountains.

Climate Change and Archaeological Discoveries

With the snow melting, researchers can now discover relics and ancient artefacts more often. The same was the case of the three-bladed arrowhead. Its revelation was an outcome of melting glaciers.

In recent years, the team found four similar arrowheads from Sparbu, a village 200 miles north of the mountain range, and Leirtjønnkollen. The researchers also found a pair of 1300-years old skis in 2014 which were still in remarkable condition.

Undoubtedly, there is a link between climate change and recent archaeological discoveries.

Pilø expressed his concerns over climate change. “The high mountain ice is melting and retreating due to the rising temperatures caused by human activities, especially the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Pilø.

According to Pilø, approximately 90% of Norway’s mountain ice will likely melt within the next 100 years. Great for archaeology but bad for the environment. Let us hope some good comes from this predicament in the way of more discoveries.