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

Friday, 18 December 2015

Rare Viking hoard found by detectorist in Oxfordshire


A rare Viking hoard of arm rings, coins and silver ingots has been unearthed in Oxfordshire. The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the "Last Kingdom". 


The hoard includes rare coins, jewellery and silver ingots
[Credit: Trustees of the British Museum]

This was when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of the Vikings, which was to lead to the unification of England. 

Archaeologists have called the hoard a "nationally significant find". The hoard was discovered by 60-year-old metal detectorist James Mather.

He said: "I hope these amazing artefacts can be displayed by a local museum to be enjoyed by generations to come." 

The find in October was lifted in a block of soil and brought to the British Museum, where it was excavated and studied by experts from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

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The Viking Phenomena


Neil Price, Professor at the Institution for Archaeology at the University in Uppsala has been granted 50 mill SEK (5.4 mill EUR/5,9 Mill USD) to study “Vikingafenomenet” – The Viking Phenomena.

“The Viking Phenomena” is an umbrella programme that shelters several sub-strands, with a principle focus on the polities of eastern Scandinavia in the mid-eighth century.
A primary objective is the final, full publication of the Vallsgärde cemetery – Uppsala’s most prominent archaeological excavation over the years – to be undertaken by a team coordinated under the direction of Neil Price. This will be supported by an international collaborative arm with an Estonian team, conducting detailed post-excavation research on the extraordinary twin boat graves discovered at Salme on Saaremaa, which seem to represent the casualties of a raid on Estonia launched from Swedish Uppland, perhaps even by the Valsgärde people themselves.
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Staffordshire Hoard Newsletter: Conservation Update


The conservation team have been busy with reconstruction of the fragments of silver and silver gilt objects recently. Alongside the conservation work the team have been busy presenting the hoard project at conferences, including the European Archaeological Association conference in Glasgow and Monumental Treasures conference in Helsinki. 

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New find could change our understanding of an Irish national treasure


Fragments of a mediaeval manuscript hidden in the spine of a book for hundreds of years could shed new light on Ireland's greatest cultural treasure, 'The Book of Kells'.
The pieces, discovered in a German library, bear “remarkable similarities” to the Irish national icon and could even pre-date ‘The Book of Kells’.
‘The Book of Kells’ is thought by scholars to have been produced on the island of Iona, in Gaelic Scotland, around AD 800, although conflicting views have suggested that its origins could lie in English Northumbria or in Pictland in eastern Scotland.
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Archaeologists Discover Elite 6th Century AD Cavalryman With Unique Foot Prosthesis


6th century AD male skeleton with prosthesis in situ during archaeological excavation at Hemmaberg, Austria. Right: Evidence of amputation of the left foot and ankle. 
(Images courtesy OEAI, the Austrian Archaeological Institute.)

In Hemmaberg, Austria, archaeologists excavating a cemetery associated with an early Medieval church discovered the remains of a middle-aged man whose left foot had been amputated. In its place, a unique foot prosthesis was found. Through analysis of the burial and the bones, the researchers tried to figure out who this man was and whether his foot was amputated for medical reasons, accidentally, or as punishment for a crime.

Heavily occupied in the Late Roman to Early Medieval periods, Hemmaberg was a site of early Christian pilgrimage due to its abundance of churches. Archaeological excavation of graves near the Church of St. Hemma and Dorothea revealed early Christian burial practices as well: east-west aligned pits with few grave goods and little evidence of clothing. But one grave in particular piqued researchers’ interest. Situated close to the church, buried with a short sword and an ornate brooch, was a man who likely died during the Frankish reign in the area, the mid- to late-6th century AD, but who had clearly survived a foot amputation.

The analysis of the skeleton, which will be published in the March issue of the International Journal of Paleopathology, was led by bioarchaeologist Michaela Binder of the Austrian Archaeological Institute (OEAI). She and her team pored over the bony evidence, and also x-rayed and CT scanned the remains, in order to learn as much as possible about this man’s life and injury. His name is lost to history, but his bones provide a wealth of information.

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Monday, 14 December 2015

Viking hoard found in field sheds light on England's origins


 A trove of Viking jewelry and Saxon coins unearthed by an amateur treasure-hunter in a farmer's field may help rescue an English king from obscurity.
The Watlington Hoard, a collection of silver bands, ingots and 186 coins unveiled at the British Museum Thursday, dates from a tumultuous period. The coins were minted during the reign of Alfred the Great, ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, who battled a "great heathen army" of Viking invaders during the 9th century.
By coincidence, discovery of the hoard coincides with the broadcast of "The Last Kingdom," a big-budget BBC drama series that has boosted popular interest in the conflict between Alfred and the Vikings.
Alfred is renowned as the ruler whose victories helped create a unified England, but some of the coins in the hoard also bear the name of the far more obscure King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, a neighboring kingdom to Wessex.
"Poor Ceolwulf gets a very bad press in Anglo Saxon history," said museum coins curator Gareth Williams. What little is known of him was written at Alfred's court and paints Ceolwulf as "a puppet of the Vikings."

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Viking hoard discovery reveals little-known king 'airbrushed from history'


A hoard of Viking coins could change our understanding of English history, after showing how Alfred the Great 'airbrushed' out a rival king

A rare coin showing King Alfred ‘the Great’ of Wessex (r.871-99) and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-79)

A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great “airbrushed” a rival king from history.
Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an “unwise King’s thane”.
But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals.
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Monday, 30 November 2015

Byzantine mosaics of the Great Palace to be restored


Multiple 1,500-year-old mosaics discovered on the floors of the Byzantine Empire's Great Palace of Constantinople in 1932 will undergo conservation work for the first time in 28 years. The work will be carried out by experts from the Istanbul Restoration and Conservation Laboratory. As a part of the project, the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, which displays the mosaics, will be restored for a modern exhibition. 


Dating back 1,500 years, the mosaics of the Great Palace of Constantinople, which  were discovered in 1932, will finally undergo detailed restoration for better  preservation and display
[Credit: Daily Sabah] 

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Harullah Cengiz, the director of Hagia Sophia Museum with which the Great Palace Mosaic Museum is affiliated said the Grand Palace mosaics are the first and only historical artifacts that are being displayed at the site where they were originally discovered. The museum welcomes about 100,000 tourists annually, and that number increases every year, indicating how much the museum is recognized at home and abroad.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVISIT ENGLAND’S LEGENDARY GLASTONBURY ABBEY


The real history of Glastonbury Abbey, renowned for its links to the legendary King Arthur, has finally been uncovered thanks to ground-breaking new research from the University of Reading.
The four-year project reassessed and reinterpreted all known archaeological records from excavations at the Abbey between 1904 and 1979, none of which have ever been published. Analysis revealed that some of the Abbey’s best known archaeological 'facts’ are themselves myths - many of these perpetuated by excavators influenced by the fabled Abbey’s legends.
Research revealed that the site was occupied 200 years earlier than previously estimated - fragments of ceramic wine jars imported from the Mediterranean evidence of a ‘Dark Age’ settlement. The analysis also showed how the medieval monks spin-doctored the Abbey’s mythical links to make Glastonbury one of the richest monasteries in the country.
Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset holds a special place in popular culture. It was renowned in the early middle ages as the reputed burial place of the legendary King Arthur and the site of the earliest Church in Britain, thought to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea.
The project, conducted with partners Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, involved a team of 31 specialists.

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Monday, 16 November 2015

Byzantine 'flat-pack' church to be reconstructed in Oxford after spending 1,000 years on the seabed


Centuries before the Swedes started flat-packing their furniture, the Holy Roman Emperor Justinian had his own version, sending self-assembly churches to newly conquered parts of his empire. 
Now one of the “Ikea-style” churches, which spent more than 1,000 years on a seabed after the ship carrying it sank, is to be reconstructed for the first time in Oxford.
The Byzantine church will be on display at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology as part of the exhibition Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas, opening in June.
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Viking link to the North East of Scotland


Their exploits are more linked to the Northern Isles and the west coast of Scotland, with monastries raided, islanders murdered and gold and silver plundered. But new research - and a clutch of archaeological finds - has now suggested that the North East may not have escaped the fury of the Norsemen afterall. 


Vikings in Scotland have been more associated with the Northern Isles and the west coast, but research suggests they may have had a foothold in the north east too  [Credit: The Scotsman] 

Academics at Aberdeen University have been working to fill the “blank space” of Viking activity in Aberdeenshire and Moray, with written history barely touching on the area so far. Using finds recorded through the Treasure Trove system and the input a team of metal detectors in the North East, a picture of possible Viking activity in the old Pictish Kingdom of Fortriu during the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries is now emerging. 

Dr Karen Milek, senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “We tend to think of Viking activity in Scotland as linked to the Northern Isles or the raids on monasteries such as Iona. We have such a good understanding of Norse culture from the Atlantic coast but no one has been talking about the North East.”

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Explore 4,500 British Museum artifacts with Google's help


The British Museum in London holds an array of beautiful and historically significant artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, which helped historians to understand the ancient hieroglyphics used in Egypt. Today, the organisation is teaming up with Google to bring its various collections online as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The search giant has been developing this resource for years by continually visiting and archiving exhibits around the world. With the British Museum, an extra 4,500 objects and artworks are being added to its collection, complete with detailed photos and descriptions.
The most important addition is arguably the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese text which dates back to the 6th-century. The piece is incredibly fragile, so it's only visible in the museum for a few months each year. Through the Cultural Institute, you can take a peek whenever you like -- and because it's been captured at "gigapixel" resolution you can zoom in to see some extraordinary details. All of the objects are searchable on Google's site, along with a couple of curated collections about ancient Egypt and Celtic life in the British Iron Age.
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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Detectorist finds hoard of 5,000 Anglo-Saxon coins


A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what may be a unique penny. The discovery, near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire is said to be the biggest hoard of coins in modern times. 



A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what  may be a unique coin. The 5,248 coins were found by Paul Coleman on  December 21 last year [Credit: Kerry Davies/INS News Agency Ltd] 


It includes a uniquely-stamped coin which may be the results of a mix-up at the mint, more than 1,000 years ago. No valuation has officially been placed on the coins, which have formerly been declared as treasure trove, but some experts believe they could be worth more than £1 million. 

The 5,248 coins were found by metal detector enthusiast Paul Coleman on December 21 last year. He almost decided not to dig the site when his metal detector beeped, believing he had come across a hidden manhole cover.

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Viking longhouse discovered in East Iceland


Archeological excavations have pointed to the discovery of a Viking longhouse from the age of settlement in Iceland in Stöð, Stöðvarfjörður in East Iceland. 
On the local website, Fjarðarbyggð, it says that clues about extremely important archeological findings had appeared. An archeologist at the site says that all conclusions point to the fact that the longhouse is the settlement longhouse mentioned in the ancient Landnáma, the medieval book of settlement. The farm at Stöð is thought to be the first settlement longhouse in East Iceland.
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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Amateur archaeologist finds Viking treasure on Danish island

It’s very rare to have found so many Harald Bluetooth coins (photo: Museum Vestsjælland)

A Danish amateur archaeologist has made a stunning find on the island of Omø just off the coast of southern Zealand.
The discovery – which consists of rare silver treasure dating back to the Viking era – was made when Robert Hemming Poulsen paid a work trip to Omø to lay fibre optic cables. He brought his metal detector along and hunted for buried treasure after work.
“A treasure like this is found once every 10-15 years,” said Hugo Hvid Sørensen, a curator from Museum Vestsjælland, where the treasure is now on display. “It contains many items and is extremely well kept because it has been buried in sandy earth.”
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Hiker stumbles upon ‘extraordinary’ 1,200-year-old Viking sword


After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age

Viking sword found by a hiker in Hordaland, Norway. Photograph: Hordaland County Counci

Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

1,200-year-old Viking sword discovered by hiker

This sword dating from c. 750 AD was discovered by a hiker in Norway. An archaeologist said the artifact was an important example of the Viking age.

A sword is probably the last thing you'd expect to find on a hike -- especially one that's more than a millennium old.
But that's what happened to a man in Norway who recently stumbled across a 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient route.
The find, which dates from approximately 750 A.D. and is in exceptionally good condition, was announced by Hordaland County Council.
County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd described the discovery as "quite extraordinary."
"It's quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved ... it might be used today if you sharpened the edge," he told CNN.
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Lyon paléochrétien : fouille du cimetière de Saint-Just et Saint-Irénée


Dans le cadre du projet de complexe immobilier Lugdunum implanté le long de la Montée de Choulans, près de la place Wernert dans le 5earrondissement de Lyon, une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap fouille sur une emprise de plus de 2 400 m² jusqu’à fin 2015. Effectuées sur prescription de l’État (Drac Rhône-Alpes), ces recherches font suite à un diagnostic archéologique qui a révélé un vaste espace funéraire, établi entre les deux églises paléochrétiennes de Saint-Irénée et de Saint-Just entre le IVe et le VIIe siècle. 

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UK buyer sought to keep Anglo-Saxon brooch in country


An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it.
The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women.
Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
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Friday, 23 October 2015

76 skeletons discovered at Saxon Woolwich


Saxon remains have been found by archaeologists excavating Berkeley Homes development site on the Royal Arsenal Riverside site. 


Saxon burial being excavated [Credit: South London Press] 

Oxford Archaeology have uncovered evidence of nearly 3000 years of human activity on the west side of the site which in ancient times would have been a gravel peninsula surrounded by marshlands. 

Surprisingly a burial site with 76 skeletons have been found which have been radio carbon dated to the late 7th or early 8th century meaning they are former inhabitants of Saxon Woolwich. 

Project manager David Score said ‘It is amazing to find such a large number of relatively well preserved skeletons, despite all the later building on the site over the years. They seem to represent a mixed population with males and females, children and adults present. Only one possible knife was recorded as a probable grave deposit so it seems that the burials do represent an early Christian tradition’.

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Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway


A hiker travelling the ancient route between western and eastern Norway found a 1,200-year-old Viking sword after sitting down to rest after a short fishing trip. 


The sword is in such good condition it could be used today  [Credit: Hordaland Country Council] 

The sword, found at Haukeli in central southern Norway will be sent for conservation at the The University Museum of Bergen. 

Jostein Aksdal, an archeologist with Hordaland County said that the sword was in such good condition that if it was given a new grip and a polish, it could be used today. 

“The sword was found in very good condition. It is very special to get into a sword that is merely lacking its grip,” he said.

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Early Medieval Church at Seydisfjordur in Iceland


How to envisage the conversion to Christianity in Iceland? This is the question raised by archaeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir in a recent article presenting the early medieval Þórarinsstaðir church in Iceland

The early Christian church site at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, is an example of how religious buildings and their belongings reflect both ecclesiastical and worldly contacts in early medieval Europe.
The site was excavated in 1998–1999 and revealed, for what was then the first time in Iceland, a timber-constructed church building of two phases, dated to the early and late 11th century (Kristjánsdóttir 2004, pp. 84–95). Interestingly, the church buildings at Þórarinsstaðir appeared to be of the same form of construction as that characterizing many of the earliest churches found in Viking settlement areas in Northern Europe: an early type of stave church, here called a post church, notably one built of timber with earth-dug corner posts
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Monday, 12 October 2015

“Princely Grave” Unearthed in Czech Republic


rchaeologists from Poland’s University of Rzeszów have uncovered the 2,000-year-old stone-lined grave of a young man in a cemetery discovered in 2010 by metal detectorists conducting an illegal search. The young man, thought to have been a member of the Marcomanni aristocracy, had been wearing a leather belt with a buckle, and buried in a wooden coffin that may have been a hollowed tree trunk. The Germanic Marcomanni eventually had political and trade relationships with Rome. “Evidence of these contacts and the formation of elites in barbarian societies are the rich tombs with objects from the areas of the Empire,” head of excavations Agnieszka Půlpánová-Reszczyńska told Science & Scholarship in Poland. Two vessels, one of clay and one of bronze, were found at the young man’s head. Similar tombs have also contained bronze vessels at the foot of the dead, but this one may have been robbed, since the foot of the tomb was empty and the stones around it were more loosely arranged. Geophysical surveys of the area suggest that the team will find additional Marcomanni tombs. To read about Rome's rise to power, go to "Rome's Imperial Port."

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EMAS Field Trip: Four Anglo-Saxon Churches in Hampshire


EMAS Field Trip to Headborne Worthy; Tichborne; Corhamton

and Boarhunt Anglo-Saxon Churches

Saturday, 7 November 2015

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You can find more EMAS events here...

Archaeologists to uncover secrets of Viking fortress


When archaeologists found the first Viking Age fortress in Denmark for 60 years last September, it was hailed as a fantastic archaeological discovery.
Now the time has come for the archaeologists to unearth the hidden secrets and legacy of the fortress, located near Køge just south of Copenhagen. A 20 million kroner grant from the AP Møller Fund and 4.5 million kroner from Køge Municipality has helped make that possible.
“With the grant, the Danish Castle Centre – a division of Museum Southeast Denmark and Aarhus University – has worked out a unique research project seeking to explore the secrets Borgring is hiding beneath Danish soil,” the Danish Castle Centre said.
“With the use of modern archaeological methods the scientists and archaeologists will investigate how the fortresses were used, how they were organised, how quickly they were built, their age and what environment, landscape and geography they were a part of.”
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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Could Cramond hold the secret of Scotland during Dark Ages?


A two-year investigation into the mystery of an Edinburgh crypt has cast important new light on the turbulent history of the Dark Ages.

The mass burial in Cramond, believed to be the oldest occupied village in Scotland, was uncovered in 1975 during an excavation of a Roman Bathhouse found at the site of a car park. Forty years later, a team led by the City of Edinburgh Council has embraced modern science to examine the remains of nine individuals found in the grave with fascinating results.

The evidence has disproved an early theory that the bodies were victims of the bubonic plague, instead dating the individuals back another 800 years to the 6th Century AD. Thanks to state-of-the-art computer programming, researchers were able to create lifelike facial representations for the 1,500 year old skeletons.

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Quand Poitiers s'appelait Limonum


L’archéologie urbaine étudie l’histoire des villes. Fouilles après fouilles, elle accumule les informations qui permettent de comprendre comment ces villes sont nées, comment elles ont évolué. Ce dossier vous invite à découvrir ce que l’on sait de Limonum pendant l’Antiquité, de la fin de l’époque gauloise à l’arrivée des Francs.

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Lewis chessmen might be Icelandic in origin


Carbon dating of walrus bones found in Snæfellsnes peninsula indicates that the bones are at least 2000 years old. A large number of walrus skulls and walrus tusks have been found around Garðafjara beach on the south coast Snæfellsnes. The first skull was discovered 1884. All in all the bones of 50 walruses have been found, most in the past 50 years. Biologists argue this indicates Snæfellsnes was the home of a sizable walrus colony prior to the settlement of Iceland. 


The Lewis Chessmen: A ferocius berserker (rook), a stern king  and a contemplative queen 
[Credit: WikiCommons] 

A previous theory, explaining the concentration of bone discoveries, speculated they came from the wreck of a ship which had been carrying walrus bones to Europe. However, the existence of a large walrus colony in Iceland would have meant the accumulation of walrus skeletons and skulls which would have been discovered by the Viking age settlers of Iceland. 

Hilmar J. Malmquist, the chief of the Icelandic Natural History Museum points out in an interview with the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that such graveyards of walrus bones could also explain references to walruses in Icelandic place names, shedding light on the possible use of walrus ivory by the early settlers of Iceland who could have had access to domestic ivory found in such bone yards.

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Mystery of medieval child grave in Frankfurt


More than 20 years ago, archaeologists found two children buried deep under Frankfurt's cathedral – and two decades of research have left them with more questions than answers about the medieval history of Germany's financial capital. 


Frankfurt's St. Bartholomäus Cathedral added one more milestone to its 1,300-year  history this month. An archaeological team revealed that a mysterious grave  - the focus of over 20 years of research - contained not one, but two children believed  to have noble roots. They also revised the year of death from roughly the  year 850 to more than a century earlier, at some point before 730  [Credit: Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt] 

The 1992 find of a double grave during excavations at the Bartholomaeuskirche – generally known as the Frankfurt cathedral – wowed historians. Two children around four years old, one dressed and bejewelled in the style of Merovingian nobility – the kings who ruled the Franks (Germanic tribes) of western Europe in the early Middle Ages – and one cremated in a bearskin according to Scandinavian custom, were found buried in a single coffin under the cathedral. Twenty years later, archaeologists have released the results of their scientific investigation of the remains and the grave site.

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Mystery of medieval child grave in Frankfurt


The 1992 find of a double grave during excavations at the Bartholomaeuskirche – generally known as the Frankfurt cathedral – wowed historians.
Two children around four years old, one dressed and bejewelled in the style of Merovingian nobility – the kings who ruled the Franks (Germanic tribes) of western Europe in the early Middle Ages – and one cremated in a bearskin according to Scandinavian custom, were found buried in a single coffin under the cathedral.
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Monday, 14 September 2015

Hunt for Anglo-Saxon abbey wall at Peterborough Cathedral


Archaeologists surveying a cathedral's precincts are hoping to uncover the location of its walled Anglo-Saxon predecessor. 


Ground penetrating radar is being used to survey the cathedral grounds [Credit: Peterborough Cathedral] Peterborough Cathedral was built by the Normans after the 10th Century abbey burned to the ground in 1116. 

Cathedral archaeologist Jackie Hall said the aim was to learn more about the Anglo-Saxon monastery because "we don't know enough about that". 

It is more than 30 years since a dig discovered a small area of wall. 

Dr Hall said: "They found the bottom of the wall, which was built out of bright yellow mortar and stone.

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Viking treasure hoard unearthed in Wales


A hoard of historic Viking treasure has been unearthed near Caernarfon in Gwynedd, Wales. The haul, which includes ancient ingots and fragments of coins dating back almost a thousand years to the time of King Cnut the Great, was found by treasure hunter Walter Hanks from Llanllyfni using a metal detector in Llandwrog back in March. 


Part of the hoard of Viking silver found near Caernarfon  [Credit: Robin Maggs] A total of fourteen silver pennies produced at Dublin under the Hiberno-Scandinavian ruler Sihtric Anlafsson (989-1036), which archeologists say are rarely found on the British mainland, also make up part of the find. Eight of the coins date back to A.D. 995 while the other six were believed to have been produced in A.D 1018. 

Experts believe that the hoard was purposely buried in the ground between 1020 and 1030 in a bid to store the silver - and could even have been used as part of a burial ritual. Earlier today, the astonishing discovery was officially declared treasure by the North West Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones during an inquest at Caernarfon.

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

New research on the causes of the Viking Age


The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century. 


The Vale of York Cup - a Christian vessel from northern mainland Europe that was  probably held by Scandinavians for some time after its capture, before finishing  its life as the receptacle for a large silver hoard buried in Yorkshire  [Credit : York Museums Trust] 

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity. 

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage. 

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Friday, 31 July 2015

Earliest Pictish fort yet discovered was situated on sea stack


An inhospitable sea stack on the Aberdeenshire coast has been confirmed as the site of the earliest Pictish Fort and pre-dates the iconic Dunnottar Castle, carbon dating has revealed. The sea stack to the south of Stonehaven, known as Dunnicaer, was excavated by archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen in April.

With the help of experienced mountaineers they scaled the rocky outcrop, which measures at most 20 by 12 metres and is surrounded by sheer drops on all side.
Despite its small size, the team led by Dr Gordon Noble, believed it would yield important archaeological finds. Their initial surveys found evidence of ramparts, floors and a hearth and now samples found in the excavation trenches have been carbon dated.
This suggests the site dates from the 3rd or 4th century – making it the oldest Pictish fort ever discovered.
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Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover 11th Century Rakia Distillation Vessel

Fragment of a distillation vessel used for the production of rakia, which is dated back to the 11th century. Photo: National Historical Museum (NIM)

Bulgarian archaeologists recently discovered an 11th century fragment of a distillationvessel used for the production of the country's traditional fruit brandy, which is known as rakia.

The fragment was uncovered during the excavation works, which are being conducted by the National Historical Museum (NIM) at the medieval Lyutitsa fortress.

The fortress is situated on a hill above the town of Ivaylovgrad and the find was discovered by the team of archaeologist Filip Petrunov, press statement of NIM informs.

This is the second vessel for the distillation of rakia to be uncovered at the fortress and the third one in Bulgaria.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

New research on the causes of the Viking Age


The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century.

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity.

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage.

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Sunday, 19 July 2015

The last Viking and his 'magical' sword?


Have you held the sword? Have you felt its weight? Have you felt how sharp and strong the blade is?


 Langeidsverdet helfigur 
[Credit: Ellen C. Holthe, Museum  of Cultural History, University of Oslo]

 A deadly weapon and symbol of power -- jewellery for a man, with magical properties. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior's strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword. 

This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now, when it is being displayed for the first time in the exhibition 'Take It Personally' at the Historical Museum in Oslo. 

The sword must have belonged to a wealthy man in the late Viking Age. But who was he and what magic inscriptions are set into the decoration -- in gold? Was the owner of the sword in the Danish King Canute's army when it attacked England in 1014-15?

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Viking-age hut found in Reykjavik


Archaeologists digging on Lækjargata in central Reykjavik were looking for traces of a farm cottage built in 1799 – and found a Viking longhouse from some 900 years earlier.

The longhouse is at least 20 m long at 5.5m wide at it widest point. The ‘long fire’ in the centre of the hut is one of the largest ever found in Iceland, which visible traces suggesting it was over 5.2 m long.

“This find came as a great surprise for everybody,” says Þor­steinn Bergs­son, Managing Director of Minja­vernd, an independent association working for the preservation of old buildings in Iceland. “This rewrites the history of Reykjavik.”

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

You(r) Archaeology – portraying the past


“You(r) Archaeology – portraying the past” - A European competition to express your view.

What is archaeology? An adventure? A pain in the neck? The appeal of the past, the magic of marvellous sites, the boredom of a dusty museum? Probably all of these together, and still more.

Up until July 31st 2015, all European citizens can answer the question and tell us about their idea of archaeology by entering a drawing, painting, photo or video in the European competition “You(r) Archaeology”.

Further details...

Monday, 29 June 2015

Rare Viking relic discovered at Perthshire dig


ARCHAEOLOGISTS delving into Scottish history believe they have discovered a rare object at a Viking-age longhouse in Perthshire

The small circular stone, with a central hole - thought to be a spindle whorl - was found by Diana McIntyre, who was on a dig with Glenshee Archaelogy Project at Lair in Glenshee.

A spindle whorl, was a weight fitted to a spindle while hand spinning textiles to increase and maintain the speed of the spin.

The stone, which is only around 5cm in diameter, has been carefully shaped to be symmetrical, but what has interested the team are the symbols and designs carved onto one surface.

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Dundee experts recreate face of Saxon man at Lincoln Castle


Facial reconstruction experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of a Saxon man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church at Lincoln Castle.
On Monday 8th June, the new-look castle will be officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal. On that day, a new exhibition will be revealed in the Victorian Prison, sharing some of the archaeological finds unearthed during the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.
As part of the exhibition, experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of an Anglo Scandinavian man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church within the castle grounds. The skeleton was one of ten sets of remains discovered.
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