Ancient Skeleton Confirms Dramatic Historical Events In Sverres Saga

Last Updated on

AncientPages.com - An ancient human skeleton discovered in the bottom of an abandoned castle well in Trondheim, Norway confirms dramatic historical events mentioned in Norse Sagas.

Sverres Saga is a Norse Saga written about 1170 by an Icelander called Eiríkr Oddsson. The stories deal with several 12th century kings of Norway, but of course the main subject is subject is King Sverre Sigurdsson of Norway (r. 1177–1202).

Fragments of the ancient skeleton discovered inside the well. Image credit: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

Fragments of the ancient skeleton discovered inside the well. Image credit: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

It is one of very few historical manuscripts describing events in the Norwegian Viking age and medieval period and scientists have often questioned the chronicle’s trustworthiness as a historical document.

However, skeleton provides enough evidence that at least one part of the saga seems to hold truth, down to the tiniest detail.

“This is truly astonishing. As far as I know there is no known example of the discovery of an individual historically connected with an act of war as far back as the year 1197. And the fact that this actually corroborates an event described in Sverre’s saga is simply amazing, says lead archaeologist at the site, Anna Petersén.

Overview of the Castle site. Image: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

Overview of the Castle site. Image: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

According to Sverres Saga, in 1197 King Sverre Sigurdsson and his Birkebeiner-mercenaries were attacked and defeated in his castle stronghold, Sverresborg, by his rivals, the Baglers.

The skull from a birkebeiner. Photo: NIKU / NTB scanpix

The skull from a birkebeiner. Photo: NIKU / NTB scanpix

In 1197 King Sverre Sigurdsson and his Birkebeiner-mercenaries were attacked and defeated in his castle stronghold, Sverresborg, by his rivals, the Baglers. According to the Saga, the Baglers burned down buildings and destroyed the castle’s fresh water supply by throwing one of King Sverre’s dead men into the well, and then filling it with stones.

King Sverre of Norway (1151 - 1202)

King Sverre of Norway (1151 - 1202)

See also:

Sverd I Fjell – Swords In Rock: Battle Of Hafrsfjord Won By Harald Fairhair – First King Of Norway

1,200-Year-Old Viking Sword Found By Hiker In Norway

Unravelling The Mystery Of The Ulfberht Sword – An Ancient Viking Artifact Far Ahead Of Its Time

But was the story true? Did these events really take place? Did they throw a dead man in the well and fill it with stones until it had been filled up?

In 2014, archaeologists discovered parts of the Birkebeiner man inside a well. Examinations of the remains revealed the person died about 800 years ago.

Now, scientists can finally confirm the discovered man is most likely to be the same person described in the Sverres Saga.

The excavation is commissioned and funded by the Inspectorate of Acient Monuments and Historic Buildings, to secure the skeletal remains of the Birkebeiner. The Inspectorate also aim to find out as much as possible about the time of the incident and, if possible, learn more about the actual course of events.

AncientPages.com