The dead soldiers of Scandinavia in the Iron Age were buried in quilts to enter the afterlife.
Now that spring is here, have you released the duvet and removed the duvet cover? If you are a Viking, you may need to save it in the afterlife. About 1300 years ago, the Scandinavian senior fighters prepared a particularly comfortable bed for their final journey: a duvet that was taken to the grave.
The funeral quilt carried by the army is part of the relics of the Iron Age tomb near Uppsala, Sweden.However, these funeral beds are not filled with duck down like they are today, but are surprisingly diverse combinations of very different bird feathers, such as Analysis performed by scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) from Trondheim.
Most Vikings were buried or cremated, but the highest ranks of men and women were buried on their ships, which is the highest honor possible.
The Valsgard Cemetery near Uppsala, Sweden is famous for its spectacular ship burials. Between 570 and 1030 AD, high-ranking warriors participated in the funeral of the Vikings: they were placed on ships, and all pointed to the nearby river, preparing for the long journey in the afterlife. But these ships will no longer sail, but stay underground with the owner.
The warriors found wore beautifully decorated helmets and weapons, some were covered with metal plates decorated with raptor patterns. Scientists in Trondheim inspected two ships about 10 meters in length, about 600 to 700 years in length, each with a soldier’s tomb.
In addition to being equipped with weapons and shields, these people also equipped them with food and hunting and cooking tools for their final journey. Horses and other animals have also been handed over to the warriors to go to the grave. The Vikings believed that in this way, they could enter the underground world and get off on horseback.
The bunk bed has been known since Roman times and was used by elites in the empire. In order to find out which bird the feathers came from, the scientists examined the tomb samples in the tombs on the ship in more detail for the first time. Although the feathers were buried for more than 1,000 years, they were found to be well preserved.
The analysis of feathers revealed something surprising. Unexpectedly, the burial bed is not the down that is well known for local birds. Down trading has already started in some coastal communities in northern Sweden. However, the feathers on the fighter’s quilt appear to be imported.
Why use strange feathers that may be available on the market? There are many different types of feathers hidden in the burial grounds of Valsgärde. These feathers come from all kinds of duck down, such as eiders, wild ducks and whistling ducks, as well as ordinary geese. Feathers of grouse and black grouse, as well as waterfowl, crows and even owls have been found. In some of these feathers, only the softer tips were used and the hardest stems were trimmed.
According to scientists, this variety of feathers is interesting in several ways. On the one hand, it provided new knowledge about the relationship between people and the birds of the region at that time. But, on the other hand, Feather can also draw conclusions about the mythical beliefs and ideas of the time.
For example, in some areas of Scandinavia, people believe that goose feathers can best help the soul to leave the body. For its part, the crow has a special significance as the winged messenger of Odin.
As if not enough, the funeral bed in one of the two tombs was filled with feathers, which according to tradition, made it difficult to enter the realm of the dead, while in the other tomb it was difficult. The researcher said, “If you put certain feathers on pillows and cushions, such as feathers from poultry, crows, pigeons, hi, owls, and other birds of prey, that should prolong the pain.” Tribute or revenge after death?