“Dad said he wanted a Viking funeral; can it be done” this is pretty much as a call we received last week. This is not as unusual request as you might think, films, novels, TV series like Game of Thrones or Vikings amongst other things trigger something within our imagination. And there is something about a Viking send off the that is really powerful and symbolic
The image of a boat set on fire and set adrift, with flaming arrows shot to light the pyre is clear in many people’s mind. This coupled with the decline in monotheism in the West and an increased spirituality seems have got people thinking about what they want.
Here are our thoughts:
Can I have a proper Viking Funeral?
Yes and No. No, you can’t be cremated in the open air, law in the UK prevents it on public health and pollution grounds. Burial at sea is tricky too and you can only have a body sea burial in very few locations and the shores of the United Kingdom these are under strict conditions such as
Rest assured there is a way you can have your ashes set afloat and adrift – see below
Are our notions of what a Viking burial is correct?
Again, yes and no. From the historical records it is likely the Viking funeral rites varied from place to place, there are numerous finding of Viking graves and some of the grave markers can still be seen today, they are called Hogbacks because of their distractive shapes
Like this example of one in Luss near Loch Lomond in Scotland. The elaborate carvings indicate time and effort which points to someone of a high status.
For more information on Hogback grave Markers – Wikipedia
However, there is clear evidence that the iconic Viking Longboat or Longship was used for the highest status, here in the UK the famous Sutton Hoo Burial Sites give us a unique glimpse into that would with the graves good exhibited at the British Museums Viking section. However, this boat was not burnt it was buried.
There is one written record of a Viking boat being burnt in a funeral pyre, this was recorded by Arabic diplomat called Ibn Fadlan’s this is his account , needless to say it was quite raucous.
The funeral right that encompass boat and burning was from the Norse myth about the god Baldur who was sent off in his ship ablaze – for the full story – The Death of Baldur
So, what can you to have a proper Viking send off?
- The least affordable option would be to buy a plot of land, get permission for burial for a plot, commission a full-size Viking boat to be made. Excavated the plot place the boat and the body in the plot and cover it over. Okay we might need to scrub that one.
- Approach a Natural Burial Ground to see if you can be buried under a hogback stone, there is the list I am sure some may be amiable. Then commission a hogback stone to be made. This is not as crazy as you might think. It would be possible and if this is something of interest let us know.
- Alternatively and buy far and away the most popular choice: The Viking longboat urn suitable for containing a whole set of ashes and designed so that they can be floats and set alight, completely biodegradable and has two pegs to ensure the boat will sink.
So, there you go Valhalla awaits….