Site Overview

A cemetery of 4,000 burial mounds

The settlement at Gnjozdovo (near Smolensk) had a cemetery of more than 4,000 mounds associated with it. It was located about halfway between Novgorod and Kiev, which was a portage (a place where Vikings carried their ships between the river Lovat and the Dnieper). This was a controlling section of the eastern European route.

Excavations have revealed a wealth of Norse artefacts, although Slavic finds predominate.

The fortified centre of the town was small, but was surrounded by 16 hectares of settlement, which was in turn surrounded by burial mounds.

Some of the mounds were over 2m high and contained cremations.

Some mounds were boat burials, some were warriors accompanied by weaponry, and women who may have been killed for the purpose.

It is clear from this cemetery and from documentary evidence that the Norse people assimilated the traditions of other cultures and that their burial rites differed from those in the Scandinavian homelands.