Arrow Older Than the Vikings Discovered After 1,500 Years Frozen in Ice

Archaeologists in Scandinavia have discovered an arrow that has been lost in ice for around 1,500 years—suggesting it pre-dates the Vikings.

The discovery was made by researchers with Secrets Of The Ice, the name given to the glacier archaeology program of the Norwegian county of Innlandet.

The arrow was discovered nestled between rocks. The research team believes it was encased in ice and was then transported downslope when the ice melted.

Researcher holding arrow
A photo posted to Facebook by the Secrets Of The Ice research group shows a member of the team holding an arrow that is thought to be around 1,500 years old. The arrow has been well-preserved by ice in Norway. Espen Finstad/Secretsoftheice.com

In an August 18 Facebook post outlining the find, Secrets Of The Ice called the arrow's preservation "pretty awesome" but not perfect, with sinew and tar—which would have glued parts of the arrow together—showing signs of wear. This suggests the arrow may have been exposed and re-frozen multiple times since it was originally lost.

The research group posted several photos of the arrow online, including one of a beaming team member holding the arrow.

Arrow seen amongst rocks
The arrow discovered in Norway by Secrets Of The Ice, seen above, was nestled between rocks. The group believes it was cased in ice and floated to the location when the ice melted. Espen Finstad/Secretsoftheice.com

Lars Holger Pilø, an archaeologist with Secrets Of The Ice, told Newsweek: "We have found more than 200 arrows that have melted out of the ice in recent years in Innlandet County, Norway in the last 15 years. The earliest are 6,000 years old.

"The one we are talking about now is really well preserved though, with the arrowhead still attached and remains of sinew and pitch. Most arrows are preserved with only fragments of the shaft remaining," he continued.

"This is a reindeer hunting site, so the arrows were lost when the hunters missed the reindeer and the arrows disappeared into the snow. A missed shot, but an archaeological bull's eye."

Vikings were a group of Scandinavian seafaring people who raided and colonized parts of Europe from the 9th to the 11th century.

Arrowhead
This closeup shows the arrowhead being measured. The 1,500-year-old arrow is well-preserved, though showing signs of wear on the sinew and tar holding it together. Espen Finstad/Secretsoftheice.com

England in particular suffered Viking raids for more than 200 years, which left deep marks on the country's society and culture still seen today in the form of dialect and place names.

It's not the only arrow found by the group in recent days. Just two days after the 1,500-year-old arrow was discovered, another, slightly newer one was discovered that is thought to date back to the early Viking age.

Although the newer arrow has been around for less time, it appears to have been exposed more, as evidenced by its worse preservation.

"Most of the sinew is gone and the arrowhead has fallen out of the shaft," the group wrote in another Facebook post. "The iron arrowhead is also rusty, probably because it is in close contact with dirt. But still: What a great find!"