• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
Danish or Norwegian? Teeth hold the answer. Photo: Vegard Strømsodd/Explico / NTB scanpix

Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?

NTB/The Local · 2 Mar 2016, 11:49

Published: 02 Mar 2016 11:49 GMT+01:00

Norwegian researchers opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
 
“We have worked on investigating this for about seven years, so to finally obtain material that we can test for DNA is huge,” historian Sturla Ellingvåg told NTB. 
 
Rollo was the founder and first ruler of Normandy, the Count of Rouen and the great-great-great grandfather of William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England. While Norwegian-Icelandic history holds that Rollo is the same man also known as Ganger Hrólf and hails from Norway, some Danish historians claim that Rollo is from Denmark. 
 
In January, French officials granted a Norwegian application to open the tomb of Rollo’s grandson and great-grandson, Richard I of Normandy (also known as Richard the Fearless) and Richard II, also called Richard the Good. 
 
When researchers opened the tomb, a sarcophagus in the floor of a Fécamp monastery, on Monday they found Richard the Good’s lower jaw with eight teeth. A DNA analysis is likely to be completed by the autumn and will be presented in cooperation with the French authorities. 
 
“Finding teeth is key, because DNA can be found there even after this many years. Two forensic experts from Norway and Denmark took five teeth that will now be sent to the University of Oslo and the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen for analysis,” Ole Bjørn Fausa, the founder of one of the project’s sponsors, the Samlerhuset Group, said. 
 
Only when the analysis is complete will Danish and Norwegian historians be able to settle their conflicting claims on Rollo. 
 
Fausa said that Fécamp sarcophagus at first glance looked like it was only large enough to hold the remains of a toddler. 
 
“When they were buried in the floor, it was a matter of space. The most important thing was to preserve the skeleton. We don’t know for certain how it was done in this case, but it was common to either cut the bodies into pieces or boil them so the meat would come off the bones. Thus, the sarcophagus needn’t be any longer than a femur, the longest bone in the body,” he said. 
 
He described the atmosphere surrounding Monday’s opening as an amazing experience. 
Story continues below…
 
“As far as we know, this is only the second time since the war that a king’s tomb has been opened in France. Just to be a part of it and find the skeletons in there was exciting and unreal at the same time,” he said. 
 
Fausa said that if Rollo is confirmed to be Ganger Hrólf, it will have great historical significance. 
 
“If the British royal family originates from the northern part of Western Norway, it will change the perception that the Norwegian royal family is relatively young with origins from the British and Danish royal houses,” he said. 

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

NTB/The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Denmark’s asylum numbers at five-year low
Refugees and immigrants at a 'welcome party' earlier this month. Photo: Uffe Weng/Scanpix

Fewer than 300 people sought asylum in August, according to new figures released by the Immigration Ministry.

Police cameras in Pusher Street promptly torn down
Two police video cameras were installed in Christiania on Friday and more will come, police said. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Copenhagen Police on Friday installed surveillance cameras in the infamous stretch of Christiania, but they lasted only a few hours.

Denmark leads effort to stop money flow to Isis
File photo of children next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Isis in Mosul, Iraq . Photo: Stringer/Reuters/Scanpix

A former head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) has been tapped to dry up the terror group's finances.

Meet Denmark's new anti-immigration party
Nye Borgerlige's Pernille Vermund and Peter Seier Christensen held a press conference on Thursday after qualifying for the next election. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix 2016)

A new political party that promises a stricter immigration policy than the Danish People’s Party combined with a libertarian economic outlook will be on the ballot the next time Denmark holds an election.

A.P. Moller Maersk to split into transport and energy divisions
Photo: Michal Kooren/Scanpix

The Danish oil and shipping conglomerate will split into separate businesses for transport and energy as it faces headwinds in both sectors.

Iraqi may face expulsion from Denmark over Facebook post
The man was sentenced Wednesday at Copenhagen City Court. Photo: Colourbox

The man will be kicked out of the country if he commits any additional crimes.

Danish museum forced to pay Elvis Presley heirs
Elvis and Priscilla Presley with newborn daughter Lisa Marie in February 1968. Photo: Public Domain

A Randers museum will have to fork over 500,000 kroner ($75,000, €67,000) to the estate of American icon Elvis Presley.

Falsely-accused Dane accepts settlement from New York
Malthe Thomsen, shown at a previous court appearance in New York. Photo: BRENDAN MCDERMID/Scanpix

The Danish man who was cleared of sexual abuse charges reached a compensation agreement on Tuesday that was far below the $7 million he had sought from the State of New York.

Denmark eyes looming skills shortage as economy picks up
Denmark is seeing fewer and fewer people interested in, and qualified for, manufacturing and transport jobs. Photo: Iris

After a lacklustre recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, Denmark's central bank has warned that the labour market faces a squeeze as unemployment falls, the population ages and young people shun vocational jobs.

Can Danish technology save us from airport security hell?
The Danish company has developed a system that would allow hand luggage to be scanned in one go. Photo: Exruptive

A Danish company thinks it can essentially eliminate airport security queues with its scannable ‘intelligent trolley’.

Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
International
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Copenhagen declared world's most livable city - again!
Record number of Danes leave the church
Society
Record number of Danes leave the church
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
National
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Society
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
National
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Analysis & Opinion
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
National
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
National
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Society
Expats: Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Business & Money
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
2,246
jobs available