Aalborg, Denmark - Lindholm Høje
There is a Nordic burial mound overlooking the city of Aalborg, Denmark, known as Lindholm Høje. The use of this mound began near the Germanic Iron Age in the 5th century CE. Burial began at the top of the mound with the buried working their way down the hill. The graves found closer to the base of the mound have been dated to the Viking Age, around 1000 CE. Those who were buried during the Viking Age were cremated before burial, while those towards the top of the hill were interred whole and unburned. The site was covered by sand drift in the 11th century, which is how the stones markings have been preserved.
Excavation of the mound has discovered over 600 burial sites, many of which have been marked with stones in the general shape of a ship. Other stones have been arranged in circular formations where the remains of women have been found. The nearby museum depicts the lives of those who settled in Lindholm in both the Iron and Viking Ages.
One of the most well-known burial depictions in the English language can be found in Beowulf. The final act of the epic shows the defeat of a mighty dragon by the hand of then King Beowulf. However, the king is wounded and, while he does not request it, he is buried with the dragon hoard: “Order my troop to construct a barrow on a headland on the coast, after my pyre has cooled” (ll. 2802-2803). Much like the Viking Age graves, the mythical king was cremated before being interred with his hard-won dragon gold underneath a mound. While we obviously can’t see the gold of Beowulf, the Lindholm Høje Museum displays artifacts that have been found within the excavated graves.
For more on cemeteries and burials, see the entry on Gorms Høj in Jelling, Denmark.
Beard, David. “Viking Archaeology.”Archeology in Europe, viking.archeurope.info/index.php?page=lindholm-hoje.
Heaney, Seamus, trans. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
“Lindholm Høje Museet.” Nordjyllands Historiske Museum, nordmus.dk/en/u/lindholm-hoeje-museet-2/.
“Lindholm Høje Museum.” VisitDenmark, www.visitdenmark.fr/danemark/planifiez-votre-voyage/lindholm-hoje-museet-gdk596168.
“Lindholm Høje.” VisitAalborg, www.visitaalborg.com/aalborg/plan-your-trip/lindholm-hoje-gdk596081.