A team of divers from the Swedish coast guard have discovered what could be the first-ever Viking shipwreck found in the country. The wreck is 20 metres long and is lying at the bottom of the lake.
Sweden’s English language newspaper, The Local, said some Viking ships had been discovered on land in the country, but none under water — until now. The possible Viking shipwreck is in Lake Vänern, the country’s largest lake and the third largest in Europe, covering 5,648 square kilometres.
Roland Peterson of the Vänern Museum told the newspaper: "Never before has a Viking shipwreck been found in Swedish waters"
A rib from the ship was found sticking out of the bottom of the lake, while the rest of the vessel was filled with sediment a metre thick. Six other wrecked ships were discovered within a 100-metre radius of the initial find, with three lying almost on top of each other. “It's too early to say whether these date from the same era," the museum spokesman said.
The remains of the ship will be analyzed over the weeks to come. These will include wood from the ship itself, as well as iron samples from a spear and a sword found inside the ship. Although the weapons appear to date from the Viking era, Peterson said:
We can't be sure of anything until we get the dating results back, which could take around a month. But the sword did seem semi-familiar.
The ship's clinker-built structure also militates in favour of it being a Viking ship.
Sweden’s Viking Era lasted from the eighth to the eleventh centuries and ended the country’s Iron Age. Unlike the more famous Norwegian and Danish Vikings, who raided Western Europe, Britain and travelled as far as Iceland and Greenland, the Swedish Vikings, also called Varangians, travelled down Eastern Europe’s rivers to trade and raid, establishing links with the Byzantine Empire.
Vikings also formed the Emperor’s elite “Varangian Guard.” A lasting contribution of the Swedish Vikings was the part they played in the founding of Kieven Rus, the first Russian Principality. Many scholars believe the term “Rus” was initially a reference to the Varangian Vikings.