Traces Of An Ancient Norse Temple To Odin Found In Norway

Courtesy of the University Museum of Bergen

The remains of an ancient temple used to worship Odin and other Norse gods have been discovered beneath a farm in Norway. 

Archeologists from the University Museum in Bergen discovered traces of the buildings during excavations of a farm that’s being torn down for housing development in Ose, a village that lies in the mountainous region of Ørsta in Western Norway. 

Among the many discoveries at the site, project leader Søren Diinhoff explained in a recent post that he's most excited about the faint remains of a 14 meter long and 7 meter wide (around 46 by 23 feet) building that is believed to have been used by people of an ancient pagan religion for the worship of Norse gods. Inside the building, they also discovered a 3-by-3.5-meter (about 10-by-11.5-foot) large square room, which appears to be a part of a tower-like structure in the center of the building.

Not much of the temple is visible nowadays, so the team has created a 3D reconstruction to illustrate the style and size of this once-grand building (image above). 

A drone image of the site being studied in Ose. Courtesy of the University Museum of Bergen

On top of this, the archeologists think they’ve discovered the remains of several longhouses, big communal houses used by large extended families and kinship in ancient Europe. 

The team are investigating a total of 8,000 square meters (86,111 square feet) of land, so it's hoped even more discoveries could be unearthed here. The site is yet to be radiocarbon dated so there’s no hard evidence to suggest its age. However, based on the shape and style of the structures, the researchers argue that the site contains buildings from both the pre-Roman Iron Age (500 to 0 BCE) and the Late Iron Age to the Middle Ages (575 to 1500 CE). 

The large temple building: how it once appeared (top) and how it appears now (bottom). Courtesy of the University Museum of Bergen

Along with the age of the site, the large building is thought to be a pagan temple based on comparisons with a handful of other Southern Scandinavian buildings, such as from central Late Iron Age sites like the Uppåkra temple in Sweden and another in Tissø, Denmark. However, the team says this is "the first time that such a well-preserved structure of this type has been found in Norway."

The Old Norse religion was eventually suppressed and supplanted by Christianity during the Christianization of Scandinavia between the 8th and the 12th centuries CE. Since very little was written down and much of the physical evidence was either destroyed or lost, it’s often difficult to find hard evidence relating to the Norse religion, which is why this new discovery is so intriguing.

Back in 2018, another team of archeologists unearthed a site in Norway that was filled with a 20-meter-long (65-foot) Viking ship as well as at least five longhouses.

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