Climate change driven ice melts are revealing hundreds of ancient artifacts in a Norwegian mountain pass 6,500 feet above sea level, near the Lendbreen pass on Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s tallest mountain.
Previous discoveries theorized the path was traveled for at least 1,200 years, but it has never been known if horses were used over the treacherous route until now. Surprising, since horses were a huge part of the the Viking lifestyle and revered in the Icelandic Sagas. Vikings treated their horses with respect and reverence, sometimes even burying warriors and their horses together, but little evidence has been found on this particular mountain.
A collaboration between Innlandet County and the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, dubbed Secrets of the Ice, aims to protect and preserve the artifacts, among them a presumed ancient horse bridle.
“The bridle has a shape that suggests it could be from the Viking Age,” Espen Finstad, a glacial archaeologist, said to sciencenorway.no. “We have never made such a discovery before,” Finstad added.
Researchers also found horse manure and part of a horse snowshoe.
Over the next few months, the leather crown of the bridle will undergo Carbon-14 testing in order to confirm its age. Until then, archaeologists must wait. But don’t worry, they’re good at that.
We just made an incredibly discovery on the south side of the Lendbreen pass: An iron horse bit, with parts of the leather bridle preserved!❤️ It could well be from the Viking Age, when traffic through the pass was at its peak. But let’s see what the radiocarbon date says. pic.twitter.com/cIRNXsZD9Y
— Secrets Of The Ice (@brearkeologi) September 7, 2023
Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.