Giant Viking hall, possibly connected to Harald Bluetooth, unearthed in Denmark

By Jennifer Nalewicki

Archaeologists in Denmark have unearthed portions of a massive Viking hall, with more of the structure still buried.

Archaeologists in Denmark have unearthed a portion of a massive Viking hall that may be connected to King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, who reigned from A.D. 958 to 986, during the Viking Age.The structure, which is located in North Jutland, a region that encompasses Denmark’s northernmost tip, is “the largest Viking Age find of this nature” in the past decade, and measures 131 feet (40 meters long). So far, only half of the building has been excavated, and archaeologists think it was built sometime between A.D. 950 and 1050, according to a statement.”It came [as] a shock that we unearthed a building of such magnitude,” Thomas Rune Knudsen, an archaeologist with North Jutland Museums who led the November excavation, told Live Science in an email. “The roof-carrying posts are enormous.”

The hall’s design is similar to those of other structures in the area likely built during the reign of Bluetooth (after whom today’s Bluetooth technology is named). Also known as Harald Blåtand, Bluetooth introduced Christianity to Denmark and helped unify Denmark and Norway. There are several structures associated with his reign, including the ring fortresses of Fyrkat, located along the banks of the Onsild River, and Aggersborg, in the village of Aggersund. Today, all that remains of the two circular fortresses are their turf-covered embankments. 

The previously unearthed rune stone is now on display at a Romanesque church in Hune, Denmark.  (Image credit: Nordjyske Museer)

Little is known from the region during that time period, Knudsen said. While archaeologists aren’t entirely certain of the hall’s purpose, they do know that “it isn’t related to daily life, but a place where the social elite met, negotiated and had guilds … [and was where] important decisions that would shape the region [were] decided,” Knudsen said.Most of the hall has yet to be excavated. “It seems very likely that further buildings could exist at the site,” Knudsen said. “So far, we have only uncovered half [of the] hall, but it would be strange if nothing else existed in the near vicinity.”

The land on which the Viking hall sits might be connected to Runulv den Rådsnilde, a nobleman whose family operated a farm on the site. This determination is based on a 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) rune stone found nearby from dating to sometime between A.D. 970 to 1020 that is engraved with the words “Hove, Thorkild, Thorbjørn set their father Runulv den Rådsnilde’s stone.””Both the rune stone and the hall are elements that belong to the political and social elite,” Knudsen said.

The rune stone is now on display at the nearby Hune Romanesque church.

This post was previously published in Live Science on January 10, 2023

Published by Jules William Press

Jules William Press is a small press devoted to publishing the best about the Viking Age, Old Norse, and the Atlantic and Northern European regions. Jules William Press was founded in 2013 to address the needs of modern students, teachers, and self-learners for accessible and affordable Old Norse texts. JWP began by publishing our Viking Language Series, which provides a modern course in Old Norse, with exercises and grammar that anyone can understand. This spirit motivates all of our publications, as we expand our catalogue to include Viking archaeology and history, as well as Scandinavian historical fiction and our Saga Series.

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