Site Overview

The farm beneath the sand

In 1990, two caribou hunters discovered timbers sticking out of a river bank about 80km east of Nuuk. This site is now known as the Gården Under Sandet (farm beneath the sand) or GUS. The sand had been deposited by streams fed by meltwater from a nearby glacier. It covered the site to a depth of around 1.5m. As the river eroded, timbers from the farm buildings began to emerge.

Excavation has shown that the Viking/Norse farm buildings were constantly changing in order to meet the needs of the farm. The earliest building on the site is a three-aisled house measuring around 12m x 5m internally, and dated to c.1000-1050. The walls were about 1.9m thick and built entirely of blocks of turf. These blocks were in courses, alternately laid horizontally and at an angle of 45 degrees, giving a herringbone effect. The walls on the long sides of the building were probably 1m high; the gable ends would have been taller and appear to have been faced internally with wooden panelling in typical Viking style.

The building was lived in for over 350 years and individual buildings changed function and size several times during their life span. In all there were at least eight phases of development.