Archaeologists recently discovered a 1,200-year-old pagan temple in Norway. It is a rare relic found from the Viking era. The temple is said to worship ancient Norse deities such as Odin and Thor several centuries before Christianity introduced and dominated the beliefs of the people here.
Although the site was found as a ground with wooden piles arranged in two rectangular rings, archaeologists were still able to reconstruct the shape of the temple according to records and background documents. Viking culture in the late 8th century.
Accordingly, the temple is a large wooden building – about 14 meters long, 8 meters wide and up to 12 meters high. This place used to be used to worship and worship gods in the main summer and winter days.
Archaeologist Søren Diinhoff from the Bergen University Museum said this was the first Nordic ancient temple to be found in Norway.
“The first time we found such a building, it was very special and very beautiful“, he said.”In Sweden and Denmark we have also found such temples. But it is not until now that this temple shows that it also exists in Norway.
In the past, in Northern Europe there existed a heroic culture of warfare. In several centuries of prosperity, groups of Norse sailors and warriors known as the Vikings raided and occupied many colonies throughout Europe as far as Iceland, Greenland and Canada.
The battle brought with the Norse a great deal of wealth. And from the 6th century, they started to build “house of god“this big to pay tribute to your gods. Before that, ancient gods in Northern Europe were worshiped only by Vikings at simple outdoor locations.”
“This temple demonstrates a belief that is stronger than all small places of worship “, Diinhoff said.
A Nordic god house
In Viking culture, they called their temples “house of god”. The houses of gods worship many ancient Norse gods, because their religion is polytheism.
Norse mythology divides its deities into two groups, Æsir and Vanir, that are both good and equally powerful. Among the most popular deities are Odin and Thor. Norse mythology also designed worlds inhabited by many mythical races including giants, dwarves, goblins and earth spirits.
Nordic cosmology revolves around a world tree called Yggdrasil, with different realms that exist with humans in a place called Midgard. Other worlds can be understood as the afterlife, some of which is ruled by a particular god.
With the newly discovered temple, scientists found its foundations in Ose, a coastal village near the town of Ørsta in western Norway. This extremely large foundation is distinguished from those of other small houses found later.
Excavations reveal traces of an agricultural settlement dating back about 2,000 to 2,500 years ago, including the remains of two houses that used to be the center of a small family farm and cave. their objects, Diinhoff said.
The divine house dates back to 1,200 years, suggesting it was later built, when the Ose village area began to be dominated by a group of elite wealthy families. These families emerged as Nordic society began to interact with the more stratified societies of the Roman Empire and the North German tribes.
“As the social division began in the Iron Age, elite families would rise to control of religion”Diinhoff explained. Therefore, the worship of the gods also became more organized and they needed to build gods.
The divine house found in Ose village is actually built on the pattern of the Christian kingdoms found in Southern Europe. It has a tall tower above the slope, a replica of the early Christian church towers, Diinhoff said.
Although the wooden building has long since disappeared, the rear holes still have its shape, including the tower’s central circular pillars. These round pillars are a special structure that has only been used in magic houses that would look very impressive if it existed, Diinhoff said.
Ancient worship ritual of Northern Europeans
The magic of archeology is that from found evidence and artifacts, scientists can compare it with ancient texts to recreate the lives of people thousands of years ago.
Around the temple in Ose village, Diinhoff found a series of concentrated cooking pits where food for religious parties was prepared. There are also many animal remains from sacrifices in this area.
In addition, the archeology team also found a large white stone “represents male genitalia”. It was part of an ancient Norse fertility ritual.
Rituals will be held in the shrine house for important festivals according to the religious calendar, such as the main days of summer and winter – the shortest and longest days of the year, respectively.
Meat, drinks and sometimes precious metals such as gold will be presented to wooden figurines in the god building, symbolizing Ancient Norse gods – especially the war god Odin, the lightning god Thor and fertility god Freyr, who was often worshiped in the Ancient Norse Religions.
For the gods could only enjoy the food portion of the festival spiritually. Thereafter, the sacrificial food and drink would be enjoyed by their worshipers. “During these rituals you will be in a good mood, eat a lot and drink a lot“Diinhoff said.”I think they’ll have a good time. ”
However, the ancient Viking Norse religion was persecuted in the 11th century, after the kings of Norway imposed Christianity as the state religion. Divine buildings such as those in Ose will be destroyed, most of them burned, and residents will be forced to convert to new Christian churches.
So far, there is no evidence that the deity house in Ose was part of that purge, Diinhoff said. However, he hopes new archaeological evidence found in the future will reveal the fate of this temple.
“It would be ideal if we could explain that “, Dinnhoff said. “But we don’t yet have any evidence for it. ”