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Early Christian graves found in Sweden


Seven Christian graves from the Viking Age have been found in Sigtuna. According to archaeologists, the graves date to the end of the 10th century - from the city's earliest times. But that's not the only thing that fascinates the archaeologists.


Early Christian graves found in Sweden
The graves date to the end of the 10th century and are believed to belong to the
 first generation of Christians in Sweden
 [Credit: Uppdrag Arkeologi]



The graves, which are more than a thousand years old, were discovered during an excavation for a villa construction project. "They are most likely the first generation of Christians", says Johan Runer, archaeologist at Uppdrag Arkeologi. "What is unique is that several are buried in wooden coffins that are covered with stone, we have not seen this type of burial in Sigtuna before", adds archaeologist.


Early Christian graves found in Sweden
Coffin burial in stone-lined grave [Credit: Uppdrag Arkeologi]



Eight individuals were found in the graves, who had brought a knife, a belt and a comb to their final resting place. In one of the graves there were also two babies who probably died during childbirth.


Early Christian graves found in Sweden
The yellow tags point to iron nails from wooden coffin
[Credit: Uppdrag Arkeologi]



A thousand years ago, the graves were placed on a hill overlooking what then was a bay. There was a port that may have played a key role in Sigtuna's development. The archaeologists are looking forward to getting an insight into the foundation of Sigtuna and its connections to Birka, a fellow Viking-era settlement.


Early Christian graves found in Sweden
Excavation overview from the west [Credit: Uppdrag Arkeologi]

Sigtuna was founded by Eric the Victorious in the 970s. The city later became the seat of his son, Sweden's first Christian king Olof Skötkonung, who had the first Swedish coins minted in Sigtuna. It is home to the remains of a presumed church that dates back to the late 1000s. Between the 1070s and 1120s, Sigtuna even served as the episcopal see.


Today, the municipality is home to 48,000 inhabitants.


Source: SVT [trsl. TANN; June 26, 2021]



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