The women in the mound

The remains of two women were found in the Oseberg mound, the world´s richest Viking burial. They had died at the approximate age of 80 and 50 years, respectively. For a long time, the oldest woman was believed to be Queen Åsa, the grandmother of King Harald Fairhair, and the younger one perhaps her servant. Today, the widespread consensus is that we simply do not know who they were. Both women were about 153 cm tall, and they appear to have enjoyed a rich diet that would have been reserved for the elite. Some of the teeth from the younger woman show signs from the use of toothpicks.

The Oseberg women being re-excavated for further research (2007).
(Photo: Einar Chr. Erlingsen).

The oldest woman was dying from cancer, either abdominal or breast cancer. She also suffered from brittle bones and constricted vertebrae. After reaching adulthood, she sustained an injury to her left knee that would have led to limping. On top of all this, she may have had a hormone disorder that caused a deep voice and the growth of facial hair. The rich diet and the extraordinary grave goods indicate that both women held high status in their society.

The illustration shows the preserved remains of the Oseberg women.
The 50 years old women to the left, the oldest one to the right
(Photo: Kulturhistorisk Museum, Uio).