Vibeke Vandrup Martens og Ionut Cristi Nicu fra NIKU studerer den ukjente graven ved utløpet til Linnéelven. (Foto: Thomas Wrigglesworth, NIKU)
Grave Vibeke Vandrup Martens and Ionut Cristi Nicu from NIKU study the unknown grave at the outlet of the Linné River. Foto: Thomas Wrigglesworth, NIKU

Scientists stumble upon an unknown grave in Svalbard

But the grave and the story behind it is already disappearing in the fjord.

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The multidisciplinary research project CULTCOAST recently completed field work at a well-known cultural heritage site at Russekeila on Cape Linné in Svalbard.

At the water’s edge scientists accidentally discovered a partially eroded unknown grave.

– In the grave we see extremely fine knitted textile residues, woven textiles, wood scraps and metal. Based on this, we believe that this can date from the 16-1700s, says archaeologist and head of the research project Vibeke Vandrup Martens from the Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU).

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Unknown grave The Grave in Svalbard.

An unknown grave is not uncommon for an archaeologist. But this grave, which is an automatically protected due to the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, is about to disappear completely.

– Here we see a classic example of cultural heritage that is about to disappear completely before we get the opportunity to learn anything from it. And that’s quite sad, says Vandrup Martens.

– We do not know why it is down here and not together with the more well-known graves of the Russekeila settlement. Maybe this person died on a boat, and was buried here in haste, she continues.