The Borre Park features the largest collection of great mounds from the later Iron Age in the Nordic region.
Between 600 to 900 AD nine great mounds were constructed at Borre. There are also three huge piles of stone among the mounds, which contribute to the monumental character of the place. Nowhere else in Northern Europe are there more large mounds in one single location. In addition to these great mounds there are about 30 other lesser burial mounds.
A Center for Power
The great mounds are evidence of political power, expressed through monumental symbols. Borre was probably the proper place for leaders to manifest their honour, after life.
It was previously thought that one ancestral family lay buried in the various mounds, The Ynglinge clan, but recent research based on DNA analysis indicates that such large burial sites tend to contain people from several families. It was likely the spot itself – as well as its connection to previous leaders – which made this place an attractive location to be buried.
Along with the discovery of two great halls at Borre, there are many indicators in the area that suggest that this location was an important center for power already before the Viking Age. It will be exciting to see what future research will reveal!
Large parts of the eastern slopes of the ridge between Åsgårdstand and Horten were agricultural areas at the time when the burial site was established, and the mounds consist of lots of old cultivated soil. Before the mounds were erected here, they were using the area to grow grains.
The site is strategically located, by the entrance to the Oslo fjord. The location indicates that the purpose of building these mounds here, was for them to be visible from the water.
The Borre Discovery – as important as Tune and Gokstad
Only one of the major mounds on the Borre site has been completely excavated, which took place in 1852. From this excavation hail the marvellous Borre finds. Unfortunately, because of the unskilled excavation of the Ship Mound at Borre a lot of knowledge was lost. It is likely that the Borre finds were originally on a par with the ship graves at Tune and Gokstad.
In 2007 impressions of a great hall were discovered which has been interpreted to be a kingly viking hall. Evidence of two other buildings where discovered shortly after. In 2013 a recontruction of the viking hall was opened for the public which is located just northwest from the park. Further information on the viking hall.
Archaeologists have also discovered what they believe to be a Viking Age seaport by Borre.
Two other mounds in the Borre Park have been examined via smaller shafts, and charcoal and burnt bones were discovered. Most of the other mounds have not even been surveyed this closely, but charcoal has been removed from several. This charcoal has provided the basis for the scientific dating, which shows that one mound was constructed per generation. In the 10th century they probably installed new graves in existing mounds.