This double grave from the Viking era at Grimsta in south-eastern Sweden was exhumed in 1974. It contained skeletons of two persons who had been decapitated. One of the skulls lies at the foot end at the left of the picture. Many experts think these two buried here were slaves.(Photo: Ove Hemmendorf, 1974/Swedish National Heritage Board)
The Vikings in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland had slaves, or thralls. These thralls probably held multiple roles, serving their masters in many ways in Viking society a thousand years ago.
They could also be given the ultimate rough assignment when important Vikings died.
Some followed their masters into the grave.
Few contemporary descriptions of Viking burials exist. But the Arab explorer Ibn Fadlān witnessed one such ritual when a Viking chieftain died. Fadlān had met the Eastern Vikings, also called Rūsiyyah, in what is now Russia:Read the rest of this article...