Excavations near the village of Hune in the North Jutland region of Denmark have uncovered evidence of a large Viking Age hall.
The archaeological work, carried out by a team from Nordjyske Museer, has only revealed part of the structure so far, but the hall is believed to have been up to 40m long and 8-10m wide, with 10-12 rectangular oak posts (some up to c.90 x 50cm) supporting the roof. These measurements make the building considerably larger than the average house of this period – in fact, it is the largest Viking Age find of its kind in more than ten years. The researchers therefore believe that the hall was a prestigious building that was probably used for political and social gatherings. It is thought that there are likely to be a number of other buildings lying to the east of this structure, as buildings like this rarely stood alone.
The hall is similar in design to the longhouses made of timber and turf that are found inside the ring-fortresses built in the 10th century AD by King Harald Bluetooth at sites like Aggersborg and Fyrkat. For this reason, among others, the hall has been dated tentatively to the late Viking Age (late 10th to early 11th century). Given its size, the building was probably part of a farm owned by one of the noble families who lived in the area at the time. Remarkably, there is a chance that we might be able to name the family. A runestone dated to AD 970-1020, now standing in Hune Kirke, the nearby church, bears an inscription stating that ‘Hove, Thorkild, Thorbjørn set their father Runulv den Rådnilde’s stone’. Of course, it is impossible to determine whether the recently discovered hall belonged to the family of Runulv den Rådnilde, but it is a possibility. At the very least, the hall’s owners would have been part of the same elite social-class, and lived in this area around the same time.
Excavations of the rest of the hall are scheduled to continue later this year, when weather permits, and researchers hope to carry out radiocarbon dating to determine the hall’s age more accurately.