Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Oldest Danish town possibly older


If you thought Ribe was the oldest town in Denmark, you're still right, but now a new study from Aarhus University shows the town may be almost 100 years older than originally thought.
Archaeologists previously believed that Ribe was established in the late 700s, but new research points to its establishment being in the earlier part of the same century, reports Videnskab.
Ribe, in southwest Jutland, is not only Denmark's oldest town, but is Scandinavia's oldest town as well.
”Ribe is the place urbanisation started in Scandinavia,” Sarah Croix, the study's author, told Videnskab. ”If Ribe began as a city in the early 700s, then it was long before the Vikings and thus casts new light on our understanding of this period.”
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Think again about the pillaging Viking warriors - it wasn't just the men who raided Britain


Viking colonisations of Europe may have been more like romantic getaways than drunken stag weekends, according to a study of Norse DNA showing the importance of women in the Scandinavian subjugation of the British Isles during the Middle Ages.

Scientists have found that Viking men took significant numbers of women with them in their longboats when they sailed to places such as the Scottish mainland, Shetland, Orkney and Iceland – contradicting the stereotype of male-only raiding parties with an unhealthy appetite for rape and pillage.

Researchers who analysed the genetic material – maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA extracted from 80 Viking skeletons unearthed in Norway – found that Norse women played a central role in the Viking settlements established in Britain and other parts of the North Atlantic.

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Beer, Beef and Politics: Findings at Viking Archaeological Site Show Power Trumping Practicality


Vikings are stereotyped as raiders and traders, but those who settled in Iceland centuries ago spent more time producing and consuming booze and beef — in part to achieve political ambitions in an environment very different from their Scandinavian homeland, says a Baylor University archaeologist.

The seafaring warriors wanted to sustain the “big man” society of Scandinavia — a political economy in which chieftains hosted huge feasts of beer and beef served in great halls, says Davide Zori, Ph.D., a Denmark native and archeological field director in Iceland, who conducted National Science Foundation-funded research in archeology and medieval Viking literature.

But instead, what Zori and his team discovered is what happened when the Vikings spent too long living too high on the hog — or, in this case, the bovine.

"It was somewhat like the barbecue here. You wanted a big steak on the grill,” said Zori, assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, who co-edited the book Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaelogical Project with Jesse Byock, Ph.D., professor of Old Norse and medieval Scandinavian studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Major Viking Hall Identified in Sweden


A Viking feasting hall measuring almost 50 metres in length has been identified near Vadstena in Sweden. Archaeologists from Stockholm University and Umeå University used ground-penetrating radar, a non-invasive geophysical method, to locate and map the house foundation. The study was published today in the journal Archaeological Prospection.

The Aska barrow, where the hall has been found, was long seen as a burial mound. But archaeologists have now revealed that it is a foundation platform for a large building, most likely dating from the Viking Period. The hall was probably the home of a royal family whose rich graves have previously been excavated nearby.
“Parallels are known from several of the era's elite sites, such as Fornsigtuna near Stockholm and Lejre near Roskilde. The closest similarities are however seen in a recently excavated feasting hall at Old Uppsala near Stockholm. Such close correspondences suggest intensive communication between the two sites”, says Martin Rundkvist of Umeå University
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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gardener unearths Anglo-Saxon carving in job lot of rockery stone


Looking for some natural stone for a rockery in his garden, John Wyatt thought he had found a bargain when he saw a job lot advertised for £50.
He was more right than he knew. For when he took the ton and a half of rock home he discovered that it contained an ancient stone carving worth thousands of pounds.
Mr Wyatt, 32, was cleaning mud and moss off the pieces when he spotted one with a Celtic cross carved on one side and a mythical birdlike beast on the other.
He had the 21 by 15in piece examined by an expert, who told him it dated from Anglo-Saxon times.
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Monday, 1 December 2014

EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland and the Isle of Skye


EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland 
and the Isle of Skye
2 - 8 April 2015

The 2015 EMAS Easter Study Tour is to the North of Scotland, including one day on the Isle of Skye.

We will travel from London Embankment by coach, staying overnight at Carlisle on the 2nd and 7th April.

We shall be based at a hotel in Inverness, which is a very good central point from which to explore the region.

The itinerary includes a wide range of prehistoric and medieval sites, including some of the famous Pictish symbol stones.



Saxon skeleton among discoveries in Aylesham

A Saxon skeleton, Bronze Age urns and Roman domestic objects were unearthed during a dramatic excavation in Aylesham this week. 

The Saxon skeleton was unearthed in Aylesham  [Credit: Canterbury Times] 

The discoveries, some of which are likely to date back more than 2,000 years, were made by archaeologists at the building site of the Aylesham expansion. 

A well-preserved skeleton thought to be from the Saxon era - therefore up to 1,500 years old - was lifted from an ancient burial ground by experts. 

Also found were middle Bronze Age cremation urns and Roman ditches full of domestic items.

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Sword’s Secrets Revealed


The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon sword this summer was cause for great excitement at the Barrow Clumpexcavation. We were keen to learn as much as possible about this 6th-century weapon, although the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that we would need to use an x-ray machine to do so. 

Being 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities here at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot. Transportation of the sword was closely supervised by our Conservator, Lynn Wootten, and the Project Manager for Barrow Clump, Phil Andrews. 

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

HAS ONE OF HARALD BLUETOOTH’S FORTRESSES COME TO LIGHT?


In September 2014, archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University announced the discovery of a Viking fortress in a field belonging to Vallø Manor, located west of Køge on the east coast of Sealand. This was the first discovery of its kind in Denmark in over 60 years. Since then, archaeologists have been waiting impatiently for the results of the dating of the fortress. Now the first results are available, and they will be presented at a seminar at Aarhus University on 18 November.

“When the discovery was published back in September, we were certain that we had found a Viking ring fortress, but since then there have been intense discussions online and amongst archaeologists about whether we were right. Now we know without doubt that we have found a fortress from the 10th century,” says archaeologist Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre.

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X-rays reveal secrets of Anglo-Saxon sword


Archaeologists have used an army field hospital’s x-ray machine to examine a corroded steel sword, confirming the pattern of the weapon alongside a spearhead and shield core found at a burial site on Salisbury Plain. 


Archaeologists have enlisted the help of the army to x-ray a sword found in Salisbury  during the summer [Credit: © Wessex Archaeology] 

The 85 centimetre blade was found with the grave goods at Barrow Clump, a 40-metre cemetery where 27 bodies – including the remains of Anglo-Saxon warriors – were discovered in 2012. 

“The sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities,” reflects Laura Joyner, of Wessex Archaeology, who says the sword caused “great excitement” at the excavation.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Anglo Saxon graves found during excavation of Burwell Road, Exning


Twenty one skeletons of Anglo Saxon people have been found – just one foot under the ground – during an archaeological dig in Exning.
The skeletons were found on land at Burwell Road in Exning, alongside a spear, a glass bowl, gold plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger, some of which is thought to have come from as early as 7AD.
The dig was carried out by Archaeological Solutions on behalf of Persimmon Homes, who have outline permission to build 120 homes on the site.
Andrew Peachey, post excavation manager for Archaeological Solutions, said: “The focus of the dig was of 20 Saxon graves. In those, we found 21 remains with one being a double burial.
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A peek inside a Viking piggybank: CT scans of treasure chest reveal hidden brooches, gold ingots and ivory beads


Derek McLennan found more than 100 objects in Dumfries in September
In addition to the pot, hoard includes jewellery, arm bands and silver ingots
The pot was investigated using a CT scanner at Borders General Hospital
It revealed silver broaches, gold ingots and ivory beads 
Location of the find isn't being revealed until excavations have taken place

The mystery surrounding the contents of a Viking pot has been solved after researchers carried out a CT scan on the ancient artefact.
Archaeologists had been unable to open the pot to see what was inside, but its weight suggested it was full of treasure.  
After undergoing a series of scans, the 1,200-year-old pot was found to contain up to at least five silver brooches and an ornate bead. 

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Scanning the Viking Hoard




The recently discovered Viking Hoard in Dumfries is arguably the most significant archaeological find in Scotland in the last 100 years. Watch as we get the first glimpses of a pot which has lain undisturbed for over 1,000 years, courtesy of a CT scanning machine.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Treasure hunter finds Viking hoard


A metal detector enthusiast blessed with “a magic touch” has discovered one of the most significant Viking hoards of the past century in southwest Scotland, his third outstanding find in less than a year.
Derek McLennan, 47, from Hollybush, Ayrshire, said he was stunned by his latest success, despite a track record which has seen him unearth hundreds of medieval coins at two separate sites.
This time, working in a pasture owned by the Church of Scotland, he pulled out an arm ring with a distinctive Viking pattern.
That initial find at a site in Dumfries and Galloway was made last month. In the hours and days that followed, Mr McLennan and the county archaeologist unearthed more than 100 objects, including a silver Christian cross inlaid in gold, probably from Dublin, and a large Carolingian pot complete with its lid, one of only three of its kind known in Britain.

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Monday, 29 September 2014

Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?


A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.

This illustration shows the stereotype of Viking marauders wreaking mayhem, even on clergy. The scene depicts the monastery at Clonmacnoise, Ireland.

The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the city's cathedral. "The heathens mowed down the entire multitude of priest, clerics, and laity," according to one witness account. Among the slain, allegedly killed while celebrating the Mass, was a bishop who later was granted sainthood.
To modern readers the attack seems monstrous, even by the standards of medieval warfare. But the witness account contains more than a touch of hyperbole, writes Anders Winroth, a Yale history professor and author of the book The Age of the Vikings, a sweeping new survey. What's more, he says, such exaggeration was often a feature of European writings about the Vikings.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Viking Blacksmith’s Grave Uncovered in Norway

The weapons and tools from the grave

The spectacular remains of what appears to be a Viking grave, most likely belonging to a blacksmith, has been uncovered in Sogndalsdalen, Norway (as reported by NRK). The grave was found by Mr Leif Arne Norberg, under a series of stone slabs in his back garden. Mr Norberg had been carrying out landscaping works when he suddenly spotted a blacksmith’s tongs, followed soon afterwards by a bent sword. On closer examination it quickly became apparent that he had stumbled upon a remarkable Viking Age find. Archaeologists from Bergen University and the County’s Cultural Department were called to the scene and the remains were subsequently excavated. The finds recovered from the grave suggest that it probably dates from the 8th or 9th century AD. They included various pieces of metalwork, a tongs, a sword and an axe, all of which will be conserved before being put on display at the University Museum of Bergen. Personally I can’t wait to find out more information about this exciting discovery.

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Gold coin may be key to solve Sweden's 'Pompeii'


    Archaeologists found the coin on Monday at a site on the island of Öland that's been compared to Italy's Pompeii
    A small team of archaeologists at Kalmar County museum, in collaboration with Lund University, has been digging at the site for the past three years. The team is studying the Migration Period in Scandinavian history, from about 400 to 550 AD, centuries before the Viking Age.
    Read the rest of this article...

    Saturday, 9 August 2014

    Archaeology: Fifth century Christian basilica found in Bulgaria’s Bourgas


    Archaeologists working in the Kraimorie area of Bourgas on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast have found a Christian basilica said to date from the fifth century.

    The discovery of the early Christian basilica is a rare one for Bulgaria, according to Milen Nikolov, leader of the Bourgas Regional History Museum team that made the find.

    The church building is 19.5 metres long and 15 metres wide.

    At the site, the archaeological team found a chamber for storing relics and a holy water vessel.

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    Archaeologist try to unlock secrets of Pictish stone


    Archaeologists have released details on what they have described as the most important Pictish stone find to have been made in Moray in decades. 


    The Dandaleith Stone [Credit: Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service] 

    Weighing more than a ton and stretching to 1.7m, the Dandaleith Stone dates from the 6th to 8th Centuries and was uncovered during the ploughing of a field near Craigellachie in May 2013. 

    Because of sensitivities around the location as well as the issue of having to work out how to remove a stone of its size - and where to move it to - archaeologists have revealed little about the find until now. 

    The stone was removed from the field in April this year and taken to the Graciela Ainsworth Sculpture Conservation workshop in Leith for assessment. 

    Once this work is completed, the stone will be put on display at Elgin Museum, possibly next year.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Friday, 8 August 2014

    Excavation of ancient well yields insight into Etruscan, Roman and medieval times

    Caption: This image shows Nancy de Grummond and her team. Clockwise from top: Florida State University Department of Classics alumni Nat Coombes, Tyler Haynes and Ellie Margadant; Nancy de Grummond, the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics at Florida State; and Cheryl Sowder, professor of art history at Jacksonville University.
    Credit: Florida State University

    During a four-year excavation of an Etruscan well at the ancient Italian settlement of Cetamura del Chianti, a team led by a Florida State University archaeologist and art historian unearthed artifacts spanning more than 15 centuries of Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilization in Tuscany.

    "The total haul from the well is a bonanza," said Nancy de Grummond, the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics at Florida State. De Grummond, who has performed work at the site since 1983, is one of the nation's leading scholars of Etruscan studies.

    "This rich assemblage of materials in bronze, silver, lead and iron, along with the abundant ceramics and remarkable evidence of organic remains, create an unparalleled opportunity for the study of culture, religion and daily life in Chianti and the surrounding region," she said of the well excavation that began in 2011, which is part of a larger dig encompassing the entire Cetamura settlement.

    A July 4 news conference at Italy's National Archaeological Museum in Siena drew a standing-room-only crowd as de Grummond and her team reported on their findings from the well excavation over the past four years. Among the most notable finds: 14 Roman and Etruscan bronze vessels, nearly 500 waterlogged grape seeds and an enormous amount of rare waterlogged wood from both Roman and Etruscan times.

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    "Truly unexpected" pink granite boulder of ancient Scottish Picts revealed in Moray


    A symbol stone of the Picts who occupied Scotland centuries ago could be unique, say archaeologists in Moray

    A huge pink granite boulder from the Picts who lived in the north and east of Scotland hundreds of years ago, incised with a large eagle and a mirror case in a “truly unexpected” set of symbols, has been revealed to the public more than a year after it broke a farmer’s plough near Craigellachie.

    Spanning more than 1.7 metres and weighing more than a ton, the Dandaleith Stone was originally reported as a “rather large stone with some sort of carving” by the landowner, who reported the solid relic to Aberdeenshire Council's Archaeology Service in May 2013.


    Read the rest of this article...

    Sunday, 3 August 2014

    Elite Turkic warrior burial discovered in Kazakhstan

    Horse remains. Photo courtesy of "Akmola Media Ortalygy".

    An archeological expedition in Zhaksy District of Akmola Oblast has discovered a burial of a warrior of the Turkic period belonging to 6-7 centuries AD.
    The international expedition worked on the site on the territory of Zaporizhzhya rural district, near the village of Novochudnoye from 7 to 20 July, Tengrinews reports citing Akmola Media Ortalygy.

    There were two mounds and the archeologists fully excavated both of them on July 18. One of them, in the north-western part of the burial, contained the remains of a warrior, who was enveloped in birch bark. During the examination of the burial, remains of arrowheads made of iron, weapons and a bronze earring were discovered. 


    For more information see:http://en.tengrinews.kz/science/Elite-Turkic-warrior-burial-discovered-in-Kazakhstan-255136/
    Use of the Tengrinews English materials must be accompanied by a hyperlink to en.Tengrinews.kz
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    Friday, 1 August 2014

    Une nécropole mérovingienne complète mise au jour à Évrecy, dans le Calvados


    Une équipe de l'Inrap intervient sur prescription de l’État à Évrecy, sur le site de Saint-Aubin-des-Champs, dans le cadre de l’aménagement d’une zone résidentielle par la société Edifidès. En 2013, un diagnostic avait préalablement permis de détecter la présence inédite d’une nécropole datée entre la fin de l’Antiquité tardive et le haut Moyen Âge, soit des Ve, VIet VIIe siècles. La fouille, débutée depuis la mi-mars, confirme l’intérêt de cette découverte avec la mise au jour d’une nécropole complète de plus de 300 sépultures dont certaines contiennent un riche mobilier. L’étude de ce site fait intervenir plusieurs spécialistes, dont des anthropologues, des céramologues, des spécialistes du verre et du mobilier métallique. 

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    Viking warriors and treasures are buried beneath Dublin

    There are a great number of Viking warriors buried beneath Dublin say archaeologists.

    A massive research project, 15 years in the making, has revealed that beneath Dublin’s modern streets lies a trove of buried Viking warriors and artifacts.
    Archaeologists say the number of Viking warrior burials in Dublin is astounding. A project cataloguing these burials was began in 1999. Now nearing its conclusion, the project will result in the publication of an 800-page tome titled ‘Viking Graves and Grave Goods in Ireland.’
    “As a result of our new research, Kilmainham-Islandbridge is now demonstrably the largest burial complex of its type in western Europe, Scandinavia excluded,” says Stephen Harrison, who co-wrote the catalogue with Raghnall Ó Floinn, the director of the National Museum of Ireland. The museum houses a Viking exhibition, which includes a ninth century Viking skeleton with sword and spearhead, found in the War Memorial Park, Islandbridge in 1934.
    Read the rest of this article...

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    'Hammer of Thor' unearthed on the Danish Island


    Danish archaeologists have solved the mystery over the significance of the Mjöllnir amulets worn by the Vikings. Indeed, they represented Thor’s hammer, the researchers said. 


    The rune-inscribed Mjöllnir amulet [Credit: National Museum of Denmark] 

    More than 1,000 intricately carved pendants shaped like hammers have been found across Northern Europe since the first millennium A.D. 

    Although it was widely believed these amulets were hammers, a debate remained over their true meaning. The objects’s unusual shape, featuring a short handle and a symmetrical head, raised doubts whether they represented something else entirely. 

    Now a 10th-century Viking amulet unearthed in Købelev, on the Danish island of Lolland, has provided a definitive answer.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Thursday, 10 July 2014

    Golden Middle Ages


    This many-faceted exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities will change the gloomy image of the early Middle Ages once and for all. It is an exhibition for young and old, with new stories about the Netherlands during the Merovingian dynasty, AD 400–700. We now know that these were not dark days at all, but a golden age!

    Top Dutch archaeological finds and Merovingian glass

    Golden Middle Ages will show how life was in this part of the world some 1,500 years ago and what role the Netherlands played in the worldwide trade networks of early medieval Europe. One gallery will be dedicated entirely to the little-known beauty of Merovingian glass. Of course, the exhibition will also feature top archaeological finds from the period, such as the Rijnsburg buckle, gold neck-rings from Olst, the glass bell beaker of Bergeijk, and a new trove of medieval coins.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Dutch archaeologists find 1,300 year old silver bowl


    On an excavation site in Oegstgeest, in the western Netherlands, Leiden University archaeologists discovered a very rare silver bowl from the first half of the seventh century. The bowl is decorated with gold-plated representations of animals and plants and inlaid with semi-precious stones. The discovery suggests the existence of an elite with a wide international network in Oegstgeest. 


    The gold ornamental plate in the bowl [Credit: Restaura, Haelen] 

    Rare and exceptional 

    Researchers are assuming that the bowl, which is 21 centimetres wide and 11 centimetres high, was buried as part of a ritual sacrifice. Such gilded discoveries are extremely rare. This one is exceptional because such bowls were usually made of bronze. In addition, they were not, as a rule, lavishly decorated with gold leaf. This means that we are dealing with an artefact that is unique, not only for the Netherlands, but for all of Western Europe. (Until the discovery of this bowl there were no indications of the presence of a local or regional elite on the Oegstgeest settlement. It may be that in this period some members of the elite lived on ‘simple’ farms.) 

    Read the rest of this article...

    Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’


    A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

    Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.
    The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.
    Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough.
    They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired.
    It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh.
    Read the rest of this article...

    Colosseum was bustling bazaar in Dark Ages


    Its gory past as an arena for gladiatorial battles and gruesome public executions is well known, but archaeologists have discovered that the Colosseum later fulfilled a very different role - as a bustling medieval bazaar full of houses, stables and workshops. 


    Archaeologists have found the foundations of homes, terracotta sewage pipes  and shards of crockery [Credit Gabrielli / Toiati] 

    As the glory of Rome faded and the empire crumbled in the face of barbarian invasions in the fifth century, the giant arena was colonised by ordinary Romans, who constructed dwellings and shops within its massive stone walls. 

    Archaeologists have dug beneath some of the 80 arched entrances that lead into the Colosseum and have found the foundations of homes, terracotta sewage pipes and shards of crockery, dating from the ninth century AD.

    Read the rest of this article...

    UNIQUE 7TH CENTURY SILVER BOWL FOUND IN SOUTH HOLLAND


    On an excavation site in Oegstgeest (South Holland), Leiden University archaeologists discovered a silver bowl dating to the first half of the seventh century. The bowl is decorated with gold-plated representations of animals and plants and inlaid with semi-precious stones. The discovery suggests the existence of an Oegstgeest elite with a wide international network.

    Researchers believe that the bowl, which is 21 centimetres wide and 11 centimetres high, was buried as part of a ritual sacrifice. Such gilded discoveries are extremely rare. This one is exceptional because such bowls were usually made of bronze and were not, as a rule, lavishly decorated with gold leaf, making this is a unique artefact for the whole of Western Europe. Until the discovery of this bowl there were no indications of the presence of a local or regional elite on the Oegstgeest settlement.

    Composite symbols

    The bowl, which may have been used as a drinking vessel or washbasin, is composed of a number of elements dating from different periods. The oldest element, the bowl itself, probably dates from the Late Roman Empire and the figures seem to indicate that the bowl originated in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East. The other decorations date from the first half of the seventh century and show signs of German cultural influences, while the bowl’s suspension rings are characteristic of England and Scandinavia. Together, these elements symbolise the international position of the Netherlands fifteen hundred years ago.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Tuesday, 24 June 2014

    Major dig planned at Battle of Hastings sites


    One of the world’s top battlefield archaeologists is to lead an ambitious project which aims to finally unearth remains from the Battle of Hastings. 


    Battle of Hastings re-enactment, Battle Abbey [Credit: Steve Hunnisett] 

    Although the current site at Battle Abbey has been accepted as the correct location for the bloody clash for centuries, no archaeological evidence associated with the battle has ever been found on the site. 

    Now English Heritage has asked Dr Glenn Foard, of Huddersfield University, to develop a project proposal with the hope of carrying out a major dig on the site. 

    Read the rest of this article...

    Tuesday, 17 June 2014

    MIGRATION PERIOD CREMATIONS UNEARTHED IN POLAND


    Dozens of cremation graves dating to around 400 AD; the start of the Great Migration period, are being studied at Łężany, northeastern Poland, by a team from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.
    “A large number of graves with their unique contents shed a new light on the cultural image of the region during the Roman and Migration period” - explained Agnieszka Jaremek of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.

    Cremated remains

    The burial ground was discovered accidentally in Autumn 2012 during forestry work with the initial excavations starting last year.
    The necropolis consisted of single graves with exclusively cremated human remains, the ashes were interred directly in the ground in either shallow scoops or in earthenware burial urns.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Monday, 16 June 2014

    Preserving the Battle of Hastings from contamination


    The Battle of Hastings is regularly fought all over again by enthusiastic re-enactors, before large crowds of spectators. The problem is that they are depositing material that could compromise the archaeology of the historic site. But now the University of Huddersfield's Dr Glenn Foard -- one of the world's leading battlefield archaeologists -- is developing a unique project designed to unearth whatever genuine material survives from 1066. 


    The East Sussex 1066 site gets the vote as one of the world's 10 best historical re-enactments.  Hastings is described as "the most-remembered armed conflict in British history" and  the re-enactments every year now involve thousands of participants and spectators  around the world [Credit: University of Huddersfield] 

    The first stage, likely to take place in spring 2015, would be to spend a week machining away the top layers of soil at a substantial area of the battlefield, in order to eliminate modern artefacts. Then there would be a search for genuine remains from the battle of 1066. 

    An important dimension of the project would be public involvement. Trained archaeologists would carry out the actual survey, but there would be parallel sessions nearby, partly aimed at children and parents, which would provide insights into archaeology, including the use of metal detectors to survey a site.

    Read the rest of this article...

    Monday, 9 June 2014

    VIKING AGE REVNINGE WOMAN: AN EXCEPTIONAL FIND


    newly discovered female figurine amulet from Revninge in the east of Denmark represents a very interesting find due to her remarkably detailed Viking Age dress.
    On April 22, 2014, Paul Uniacke had started to explore a field near Revninge with his metal detector – several items had already been recovered when to his astonishment a small fine figurine appeared. He instantly recognised it as Viking Age and immediately contacted Østfyns Museums, who confirmed his thoughts and started the process of conservation.

    New knowledge

    It is not always easy to imagine how people of the Viking age really looked. However, the discovery of this small gilt silver figurine contains a wealth of detail giving new knowledge about costume and jewellery of the period.
    Archaeologist Claus Feveile, Department of Landscape & Archaeology at Østfyns Museums, explained, “Small characters from the Viking period are extremely rare and Revninge-woman’s dress is incredibly detailed which will contribute to the discussion on the appearance of clothes and how they might have been worn.”

    Read the rest of this article...

    Monday, 2 June 2014

    East Lothian skeleton may be 10th Century Irish Viking king

    Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with part of the East Lothian skeleton which historians believe could be an Irish Viking king

    A skeleton discovered on an archaeological dig in East Lothian may be a 10th Century Irish Viking who was king of Dublin and Northumbria.
    King Olaf Guthfrithsson led raids on Auldhame and nearby Tyninghame shortly before his death in 941.
    The remains excavated from Auldhame in 2005 are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank.
    They include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland.
    The find has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that the skeleton could be that of King Olaf or one of his entourage.
    Read the rest of this article...

    Wednesday, 28 May 2014

    Decoding Anglo-Saxon art

    Silver-gilt square-headed brooch from Grave 22, Chessell Down, Isle of Wight. Early Anglo-Saxon, early 6th century AD

    One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye.
    The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multi-layered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to ‘read’ the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art.
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    Friday, 23 May 2014

    Skeleton executed by sword blows to head poses questions on Norman Conquest

    A potentially groundbreaking discovery has been announced as part of the 750th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Lewes in Sussex
    © Courtesy Sussex Archaeological Society

    An unusual set of battlefield burials have led to the skeleton of the first ever human discovery directly related to the 11th century Norman Conquest

    A brutally-murdered man, executed by six sword blows to the back of the skull during a vicious 11th century battle on hospital grounds in Sussex, is compelling archaeologists to reconsider Norman war burials after becoming the first ever skeleton to be related to the 1066 invasion.

    Originally discovered during a dig at a former medieval hospital more than 20 years ago, the individual has been carbon dated to within 28 years of 1063.

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    Monday, 19 May 2014

    Possible Viking settlement in the Ålands found


    According to archaeologists aerial infrared images suggest the existence of a late Iron Age settlement, possibly the largest such find ever in the Åland Islands or all of mainland Finland. 


    The highest point of Åland Islands: summit of Orrdalsklint, in Saltvik 
    [Credit: RainoL/Panoramio] 

    The aerial imaging highlighted a depression 40 metres deep and 12 metres wide which might have been the site of a massive hall used to host gatherings of ancient Vikings. No other similar find of this size has ever been discovered in the Åland of on the Finnish mainland. 

    The imaging project followed observations of depressions which resembled the outlines of late Iron Age structures from other parts of Scandinavia. Once the images revealed the outline of the hall, cautious excavation turned up personal ornaments cast in silver and bronze, and which point to the site as an important location in the Viking world.

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    Friday, 16 May 2014

    The Vandals: victims of a bad press?


    Copper 42 nummi coin showing a Vandal warrior. Although it does not carry a king’s name, it is possible that this coin was made during the time of Gelimer (AD 530-3), and thus he may be the intended identity of the cloaked figure with a spear. The reverse shows the mark of value in Roman numerals (including the long-tailed L (=50) typical of Latin inscriptions in Vandal Africa, and also seen on Gelimer’s silver coinage). Above is the fine image of a horse’s head, the traditional emblem of Carthage since Punic times. TC,p241.2.Car

    The name of the Vandals is synonymous today with wanton violence and destruction. But it seems to me that, just like the Vikings, the Vandals have suffered from a bad press. The surviving accounts of their sack of Rome in AD 455, of their further piratical raids around the Mediterranean, and of their persecution of the Catholic inhabitants of North Africa are all presented through the eyes of their enemies and opponents: the Roman and Byzantine Empires and the established Church. Clearly, the Vandals were regarded as the ‘bad guys’ of the day and we, too have been led into thinking of them as wild barbarians, intent on the destruction of Rome and its civilisation.
    But how balanced a picture do we get from the contemporary accounts? We do not, after all, have the Vandal side of the story, although we should probably discount the suggestion that they were invited into North Africa, their final home, in support of the Roman governor. He may have been made a scapegoat later for the Vandal conquest of the region.
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