Traces of marketplace from Viking Age found on Klosterøy

Written on 02/19/2024
Mark Milligan

Archaeologists from the University of Stavanger have announced the possible discovery of a Viking Age marketplace on the island of Klosterøy in southwestern Norway.

The 1.7-square-kilometre island lies on the south side of the Boknafjorden in the Rennesøy island group.

Using ground penetrating radar, the team have found evidence of pit houses and the foundations of a three pier-or boathouse near the Utstein Monastery.

Speaking to ScienceNorway, Associate Professor Håkon Reiersen at the Museum of Archaeology, said: “We have received numerous metal detector finds from Utstein in recent years, including items associated with trade such as weights and coins.”

“One of the things we wanted to investigate with the ground-penetrating radar was whether there could be additional traces of trade activity. I am therefore not surprised that the results now indicate that Utstein was indeed a marketplace in the Viking Age and early Middle Ages,” added Reiersen.

Kristoffer Hillesland from the University of Stavanger's Museum of Archaeology suggests that pit houses often served as workshops for craftsmanship, with similar examples being found at Tønsberg and Bjørkum in Lærdal.

Excavations have also uncovered burial mounds, cooking pits, layers of soil indicative of agriculture, and traces of settlement.

According to the researchers, when considering the findings of the pit houses and adjacent structures, in conjunction with the presence of burial mounds and numerous objects associated with trade, it further reinforces the probability of a Viking Age marketplace at Utstein.

"While many indicators suggest that this may be a marketplace, we cannot be 100 per cent certain until further investigations are conducted in the area to verify the findings," Grethe Moéll Pedersen says.

The ground-penetrating radar surveys were carried out in collaboration with the landowners at Utstein Gard. The landowners said: “We find it exciting that discoveries were made on our farm. We know we live in a historically interesting area. There has been farming here at Utstein since at least the Viking Age. We have a great interest and respect for the history that we are a part of."

Header Image Credit : Grethe M. Pedersen, AM / University of Stavanger

Sources: Partner.Science.Norway