Two thousand meters up in the Norwegian mountains, humans and animals of the Iron Age trekked across dangerous paths in an effort to take a shortcut to get to their destination. Instead of taking the long journey around, they went directly over the mountains—and it must have been an effective path, because it was used all the way through the medieval period as well.
But times are a’changing, and the ice is a’melting.
Norwegian climate experts predict that the ice in the high mountains of Norway will be gone by the end of the century, which means that any historical or archaeological finds trapped in the ice will be uncovered as the ice melts.
Why would there be items trapped in ice? Imagine that travelers used this route for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. How often do you drop things when you’re out and about? How much worse would it be if you had your things strapped to the back of a horse or donkey?
Archaeologists have found 1,000-year-old horse manure on the route, as well as horse shoes and a perfectly preserved 1,700-year-old woollen tunic that was almost completely intact. And now they can add an actual horse to the list!
The horse remains were only bones by the time the team made the find, but it confirms the route and the necessity of taking horses across the difficult mountain paths.
The paths were also used for hunting reindeer, who would move up to the cooler mountain areas during the heat of summer, and it’s likely that hunters used horses to move reindeer carcasses from the mountains down to the villages below.
Sadly, this poor horse was obviously unable to complete its appointed task.