‘Vikings’: Where Is Ragnar Lothbrok Buried & Was His Body Ever Found?

Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok before and after death
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“How the little piggies will grunt when they hear how the old boar suffered.” These are the famous last words of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), referenced by both historical sources and the famous TV series Vikings. The horrific scene of his death was sad to watch, but interestingly, his sons never found his remains in the pit when they came to avenge him, leading many fans to wonder whether Ragnar Lothbrok really died in the snake pit and where he is buried.

The fate of Ragnar’s body is not revealed in Vikings Season 4 after he died in King Aelle’s pit of vipers. Many historical sources, including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, also agree that Ragnar died in England, most likely in the pit of snakes, but his burial site has never been located. Therefore, where or how Ragnar was buried remains a mystery, but we have an intelligent guess.

Legendary as Ragnar Lothbrok’s tales are, very little is known about his real life, with some historians even disputing his very existence. However, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other reliable historical sources all speak of him. These sources also agree on the possibility of his death at the hands of King Aelle’s snakes. However, Ragnar wasn’t a popular man in England, so he definitely didn’t get a spot in a royal crypt, but let’s see where else his body could have ended up.

What happened to Ragnar Lothbrok in Vikings?

King Aelle and Ragnar before throwing him in the snake pit

In ‘All His Angels’ (S04E15), Ragnar is thrown into a pit full of poisonous snakes and bitten, presumably to his death. Although King Aelle of Northumbria orders this harsh execution, King Ecbert of Wessex is behind it all because he captures Ragnar and hands him over to Aelle to be killed.

Although Ecbert decides that Ragnar has to die for his crimes against the Saxons, he lets Aelle take the credit for his execution, hoping that Ragnar’s sons will spare Wessex when they come to avenge their father as Aelle will be blamed for his death. However, Ragnar already told Ivar to inform his brothers that Ecbert wasn’t innocent of their father’s blood.

Having lost his sons’ support, Ragnar chose to sail to England one last time, knowing he would be killed. His fame as the warrior king of Kattegat had significantly declined by this time, especially after his defeat in Frankia at the hands of his brother, Rollo.

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After learning about his death, Ragnar’s sons led the Great Heathen Army into England and attacked both Wessex and Northumbria, defeating both armies easily. However, when they force King Aelle to show them the place where Ragnar died, the pit doesn’t have any remains of their father.

They still proceed to execute King Aelle using the terrifying Blood Eagle execution. Unlike Ragnar, who bravely took his execution, Aelle screams and begs for mercy before Bjorn kills him, proving that despite his arrogance while ordering Ragnar’s execution, he is a coward.

Unlike Aelle, to whom they perform the Blood Eagle, Ragnar’s sons allow Ecbert to choose his own death out of respect for being their father’s friend. Ecbert, having signed over his crown to his son, cheats Ragnar’s sons by giving them land, knowing it is meaningless because he has no authority, and then chooses to cut his wrists and die painlessly in his bath.

Why was Ragnar’s body not in the pit in Vikings?

Ragnars sons at their fathers death pit

In Vikings, Ragnar doesn’t receive any formal burial ceremony, nor do his sons get to bury his remains. Our working theory is that King Ecbert organized a funeral for him after he secretly attended the execution and watched as Ragnar was thrown into the pit.

Despite agreeing to Ragnar’s execution, Ecbert truly admired the Viking and felt sorry for him as he suffered before his death. When Ragnar shouts that he isn’t afraid of dying and that Odin is preparing a feast for him, Ecbert looks relieved. Ecbert understands that despite their political differences, Ragnar is a good person.

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Some fan theories have suggested that Ragnar didn’t actually die from the snake bites. However, we believe he died because his death in the pit agrees with most aspects of historical accounts about Ragnar.

As for a burial, Ragnar would have received a formal Viking burial by having his body burned on a sailing boat, like other Viking burials in the show, if he had died in Kattegat or if his remains were sent back to his homeland. Sadly, having died in Northumbria, surrounded by Saxons, a Viking burial doesn’t sound likely.

The most likely scenario is that his body was buried in an unnamed grave somewhere in Northumbria because King Aelle never saw Ragnar as anything more than a heathen. He could still have been buried with some respect in a formal Crypt somewhere in Wessex or Mercia if King Ecbert intervened because he had mutual respect for Ragnar.

Where was Ragnar buried in real life?

Historical sources differ on exactly where Ragnar died, so his burial place remains unknown. However, a mass grave containing bones of over 300 Vikings was discovered in Repton, Derbyshire, England, in the 1980s, and it may hold the clues to where Ragnar was buried. The site is located in what was Mercia at the time of Ragnar’s death.

The grave is located at the site of a 7th-century monastery, which means it was in place by the time of Ragnar’s death between 852 AD and 862 AD. The crypt next to the mass grave is believed to carry the remains of former Mercian nobles and some Viking warriors.

The Vikings took over the monastery and then buried their loved ones there. Multiple Viking graves have since been discovered at the site, including a mass grave for over 300 Vikings in a garden next to the monastery, who are believed to have died and been buried somewhere else before being moved there.

While none of these remains have been directly identified as Ragnar Lothbrok, we believe it is the most likely resting place for Ragnar’s fellow Viking warriors, and he could be one of them. However, considering the circumstances of his death, his remains may never be identified.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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