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

Monday, 26 June 2017

1,000 year old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

Is this Denmark’s oldest toilet? Here you can see the various preserved layers. The lowest dark layer is human waste 
[Credit: Anna S Beck]

In a Viking settlement on Stevns in Denmark, archaeologists have excavated a two metre deep hole. But it is not just any old hole. This hole, it seems, may be the oldest toilet in Denmark.

Radiocarbon dating of the faeces layer dates back to the Viking Age, making it quite possibly the oldest toilet in Denmark.

“It was a totally random find. We were looking for pit houses—semi-subterrenean workshop huts—and it really looked like that from the surface. But we soon realised that it was something totally different,” says PhD student Anna Beck from the Museum Southeast Denmark.

Apart from representing Denmark’s oldest toilet, the discovery goes against archaeologists’ theories surrounding people’s toilet habits through time, says Beck. Not least because it was discovered in an area of Viking countryside and not in a Viking city.

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Viking shield, spear points and human bones recovered from Viking boat burial in N. Iceland

THE DYSNES SITE The exploration of the site has barely begun. Photo/Auðunn

Archeologists working at a dig in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland have announced they have discovered a shield, human bones and two spear points from two of the boat burials. Previously they had uncovered the bones of what appears to be a Viking chief who was buried with his sword and dog at the site. The dig has barely started. Four of the graves have yet to be explored at all, and more could still be discovered at the site.

According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service the artifacts found today came from two separate boat burials. The spear points were recovered from a burial which has been badly eroded by the ocean. The waves have already washed away half of the boat, and any items it might have contained.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Brewing Viking Beer — With Stones


When archaeologist Geir Grønnesby dug test pits at 24 different farms in central Norway, he nearly always found thick layers of fire-cracked stones dating from the Viking Age and earlier. Carbon-14 dating of this evidence tells us that ago, Norwegians brewed beer using stones.

There’s nothing archaeologists like better than piles of centuries-old rubbish. Ancient bones and stones from trash heaps can tell complex stories. And in central Norway, at least, the story seems to be that Vikings and their descendants brewed beer by tossing hot rocks into wooden kettles.

“There are a lot of these stones, and they are found at most of the farmyards on old, named farms,” says Geir Grønnesby, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.

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Archaeologists in N. Iceland discover Viking age chief buried in ship with his sword and dog

AT THE SITE Archaeologists at work excavating the Dysnes site. Dysnes translates as "Burial-ness". Photo/Auðunn

Yesterday archeologists, who are working at a large burial site in Eyjafjörður fjord in north Iceland, announced that they had discovered the remains of a ship burial dating back to the Viking age. A wealthy chieftain seems to have been buried in one of his boats along with some of his worldly possessions, including a sword and his dog. More unexplored burial sites are believed to be located at the site.

The grave is believed to date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. The sword, which was found close to the surface is in very poor condition. The archeologists expect to remove the sword from the ground today.
A site of regional significance during Viking Age 
The archeological dig takes place north of the town of Akureyri at a site which is believed to have been of enormous local importance during the Viking age. A few hundred meters south of the burial site is Gáseyri, which was the primary trading post in Eyjafjörður fjord during the Viking age.   
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Second Viking Age ship burial found at archaeological site in N. Iceland


Yesterday archaeologists discovered a second boat burial at an archaeological site at Dysnes ness in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland. On Tuesday a burial site where a Viking age chief was buried in his boat, along with his sword and dog had been discovered. Two other graves dating to the Viking Age have been found at the site. Archaeologists working at the site are optimistic to find more, as the dig has only just started.

Undisturbed graves

Neither boat burial has been disturbed by grave robbers, as many Viking age burial sites have been. Most Viking Age burial sites seem to have been opened up relatively early, only decades after the burial, and valuables, especially swords, removed. The reasons for such grave robbing are not known.

Archaeologists working at Dysnes have now found four different Viking age graves at the site. Two were boat burials. An archaeologist working at the dig told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that they expected to find more. "Everywhere we stick a shovel into the ground we seem to find something". 


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Sunday, 4 June 2017

Millions needed to save priceless archaeological remains from coastal erosion


WAVES The advancing seas are eroding beaches along Iceland's coasts and imperiling archeological remains that have not yet been researched. Photo/Vísir.

Archeological remains of great cultural value are in danger of being washed away by coastal erosion on many of Iceland's shores, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. An MP for the Left Green Movement warns of an impending "cultural disaster" due to a lack of financing for their preservation. Documenting and preserving the remains might cost hundreds of millions of ISK, according to an official estimate. 

Only a quarter of known remains has been documented

In a written response to questions from MPs in the Icelandic parliament, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, said that the ministry was aware of a number of places around the country where valuable remains were in danger of being lost. However, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland has only documented around a quarter of the remains that are protected by law due to their age.

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

‘Agricultural Revolution’ In Anglo-Saxon England Sheds New Light On Medieval Land Use

Researchers from the University of Leicester will be shedding new light on how an ‘agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England fueled the growth of towns and markets as part of a new project investigating medieval farming habits.


University of Leicester academics work with University of Oxford in project to examine how historical farming methods changed England’s landscape [Credit: University of Leicester]

The project, titled ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England (FeedSax): The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution’, which is funded by the European Research Council, is led by the University of Oxford working with colleagues from the University of Leicester.

The period between c 800 – 1200 AD saw dramatic changes in farming practices across large parts of Europe, enabling an increase in cereal production so great that it has been described as an ‘agricultural revolution’. 

This ‘cerealisation’ allowed post-Roman populations not only to recover, but to boom, fueling the growth of towns and markets.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Historians reveal AMAZING details about massive Viking Camp found in Lincolnshire

Torksey AD 872/873

A 1,100-year-old camp the Viking Great Army at Torksey has been brought to life in stunning virtual reality based on the latest research.

Heralded as the most realistic immersive experience ever created of the Viking world, the exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum in York runs from May 19 to November 5.

Three dimensional images and soundscape reveal what life was like in the camp of the Viking army on the banks of the River Trent at Torksey, near Gainsborough, in the winter of AD 872-873, as thousands of Vikings prepared to conquer vast swathes of England.

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Ten of the Viking treasures on show in York for Viking – Rediscover the Legend

The Ormside Bowl. Photography Anthony Chappell Ross. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust (Yorkshire Museum).

A major new exhibition by the Yorkshire Museum in partnership with the British Museum explores the world of the Vikings. Here are some of the treasures about to be revealed in Viking – Rediscover the Legend

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Viking army camp uncovered by archaeologists in England

A huge camp which was home to thousands of Vikings as they prepared to conquer England in the late ninth century has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Established in Torksey, on the banks of the River Trent in Lincolnshire, the camp was used as the Vikings' defensive and strategic position during the winter months.

The research, conducted by archaeologists at the Universities of Sheffield and York, has revealed how the camp was used by thousands of Viking warriors, women and children who lived there temporarily in tented accommodation.

They also used the site as a base to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, manufacture, trade and play games.

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Medieval People Reopened Graves To Honour Family

Cemetery next to a medieval church in Elham, Kent (England) 
[Credit: Shutterstock]

In the early Middle Ages (450 - 800 AD), dead people were often buried with valuable items such as jewellery, weapons and earthenware pots. Martine van Haperen discovered that the people who reopened the graves certainly did not take everything. They mainly took the objects with an important symbolic significance, such as swords and shields from the male graves and jewellery from female graves. These were possibly viewed as the carriers of mythical and ancestral powers.

The archaeologist from Leiden University investigated more than 1300 graves from 11 mediaeval cemeteries in the Netherlands and Belgium. More than 40 percent of the graves had been reopened. According to Van Haperen, this probably happened when the cemeteries were still in use and in half of the cases, this was even within a single generation after the funeral.


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Virtual reality brings ninth century Viking invaders' camp to life


VR exhibition is based on many finds from the Vikings’ camp.
Photograph: Dalya Alberge

Exhibition to feature scenes and artefacts from large-scale winter base where soldiers prepared to conquer Anglo-Saxons in 872

The Viking armies that invaded Britain in the ninth century were far larger than had previously been realised, according to academic research that forms the basis for a groundbreaking virtual reality project.

A major exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum, staged in partnership with the British Museum, draws on new research by the universities of York and Sheffield. According to Professor Dawn Hadley, one of the co-directors of the universities’ project at the site of a Viking winter camp, archeologists and historians had thought that the invading Viking armies numbered in the low hundreds. But archeological work at the camp on the river Trent at Torksey, Lincolnshire, suggested otherwise.

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Holy chickens: Did Medieval religious rules drive domestic chicken evolution?

A baby chick. Could Medieval religious rules have increased the demand for poultry and thereby altered chicken evolution?
Credit: © Anatolii / Fotolia

Chickens were domesticated from Asian jungle fowl around 6000 years ago. Since domestication they have acquired a number of traits that are valuable to humans, including those concerning appearance, reduced aggression and faster egg-laying, although it is not known when and why these traits evolved.

Now, an international team of scientists has combined DNA data from archaeological chicken bones with statistical modeling to pinpoint when these traits started to increase in frequency in Europe.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

Saint Edmund, the Saxon king, may be buried under town's tennis courts, experts believe


Experts are set to start digging for another missing English king.

After Richard III was found buried under a car park in Leicester, details have emerged of other unusual possible resting places famous monarchs.

Now, Bury St Edmunds believes it may have the remains of Saint Edmund, a Saxon monarch, buried beneath one of its tennis courts. 

St Edmund was a Saxon king who ruled in the ninth century. As a saint, his remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds.

At the time of the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey, during Henry VIII's reign, the remains were lost.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Iron-age Viking longhouses were burned and buried in funerals


From the Bronze Age until the Viking Age, burial mounds could be placed on top of the remains of three-aisled longhouses. The internal posts that served as roof-supporting beams were sometimes removed before the house was set on fire. Once the house had burned to the ground, one or more burial mounds were placed on top of its remains.
Marianne Hem Eriksen is a postdoc at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History. In an article in the European Journal of Archaeology, she investigates the causes of this practice.
'I studied seven different house burials from the Iron Age in Scandinavia, in five different locations: Högom in Sweden; Ullandhaug in Rogaland; Brista in Uppland, Sweden; Jarlsberg in Vestfold; and Engelaug in Hedmark,' Eriksen tells us.
The custom of setting houses on fire and placing burial mounds over of the house remains may be reminiscent of a cremation. Eriksen argues that the burial mounds may equally well mark the cremation and burial of a house – not necessarily a human being.
'In some cases we have been unable to find human remains, even in places where we could expect such remains to have been preserved. Nevertheless, archaeologists have more or less implicitly assumed that somewhere or other, there must be a deceased individual.'
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Friday, 7 April 2017

Why you should take your kids to Britain's smelliest attraction


Scent is the most underrated element of travel. Consider: lavender-infused Provencal fields or sulphuric water in Iceland. Each smell evokes a fundamental aspect of its place of origin. And, if you are under the age of 12, or know someone who is, consider this particular whiff: rotting flesh, with more than a hint of human excrement.

Nothing brings history alive like the scent of a turd, particularly when accompanied by a fossilised version, which you will find on display in a new case at Jorvik Viking Centre, which re-opens this weekend, 17 months after floods destroyed one of York’s most memorable attractions.

Vikings are heroes for my children’s generation thanks, in part, to How to Train Your Dragon, the historical drama Vikings and the Scandi clothing invasion, which features cheerful bearded Nordic faces on just about anything.

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Monday, 3 April 2017

Tiller the Hun? Farmers in Roman Empire converted to Hun lifestyle -- and vice versa

New archaeological analysis suggests people of Western Roman Empire switched between Hunnic nomadism and settled farming over a lifetime. Findings may be evidence of tribal encroachment that undermined Roman Empire during 5th century AD, contributing to its fall.


Example of a modified skull, a practice assumed to be Hunnic that may have been appropriated by local farmers within the bounds of the
Credit: Susanne Hakenbeck

Marauding hordes of barbarian Huns, under their ferocious leader Attila, are often credited with triggering the fall of one of history's greatest empires: Rome.

Historians believe Hunnic incursions into Roman provinces bordering the Danube during the 5th century AD opened the floodgates for nomadic tribes to encroach on the empire. This caused a destabilisation that contributed to collapse of Roman power in the West.


According to Roman accounts, the Huns brought only terror and destruction. However, research from the University of Cambridge on gravesite remains in the Roman frontier region of Pannonia (now Hungary) has revealed for the first time how ordinary people may have dealt with the arrival of the Huns.

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Medieval villagers mutilated the dead to stop them rising, study finds

The Wharram Percy excavation area as it looks today. 
Photograph: Pete Horne/Historic England/PA

A study by archaeologists has revealed certain people in medieval Yorkshire were so afraid of the dead they chopped, smashed and burned their skeletons to make sure they stayed in their graves.

The research published by Historic England and the University of Southampton may represent the first scientific evidence in England of attempts to prevent the dead from walking and harming the living – still common in folklore in many parts of the world.

The archaeologists who studied a collection of human bones – including the remains of adults, teenagers and children excavated more than half a century ago, and dated back to the period between the 11th and 14th century – rejected gruesome possibilities including cannibalism in times of famine, or the massacre of outsiders. The cut marks were in the wrong place for butchery, and isotope analysis of the teeth showed that the people came from the same area as the villagers of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire – a once flourishing village which had been completely deserted by the early 16th century.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Fregerslev Viking From Outside Hørning


Sensational find of chamber graves from the later part of the Viking Age at Fregerslev south of Hørning in Jutland in Denmark will hopefully witness to the ethos of the Viking warriors in the 10th century.

Fregerslev is a small settlement located a few km south of Hørning in the midst of Jutland near the town of Skanderborg. It lies down to a lake at an old crossing point. At the periphery of Hørning close to the road towards Fregerslev, a Viking burial ground was discovered in 2012, consisting of two inhumation graves and a tomb with two (or maybe three) chambers. While the two inhumation graves have been excavated, the chamber graves were left in situ for later excavation. However, intensive studies carried out using metal detectors as well as electromagnetic surveying left the archaeologists with tantalising glimpses of what might be a very rich picking ground for future excavations. Also, a magnificent headgear for a horse gave an inkling of what hopefully lies beneath. During the next years funding was sought while the find was kept hidden for fear of “night-owls”. Now, However, the time has come.

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Archaeologists make sensational Viking discovery in Denmark

One of the beautiful, gilded fittings (photo: Museum of Skanderborg)

In what is being described as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Denmark in recent times, archaeologists have uncovered several chamber-graves in the hamlet of Hørning near Skanderborg in Jutland.

What is of particular interest is that one of the chamber-graves contains the remains of a high-level person from the early Viking Age, as well as a number of spectacular items that confirm the individual’s high standing. He has been dubbed the ‘Fregerslev Viking’.

“The artefacts that we’ve already found are exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle. This type of bridle would only be available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age, and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from the king,” said Merethe Schifter Bagge, a project manager and archaeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Immigration to Denmark is nothing new … just ask the Vikings

A Viking grave in Randers shows evidence of early globalisation



Ernst Stidsing, an archaeologist and the curator at East Jutland Museum, has discovered that the body of a woman buried in a Viking grave in Randers was born in Norway.

The remains of her teeth were subjected to a strontium analysis, which can show where a person is born and grew up. The results of the analysis, together with jewellery found with the body, pointed to the fact that she grew up in southern Norway.

Ernst Stidsing added that people have always travelled and emigrated. However, the exact circumstances of her coming to Denmark are unknown. It isn’t clear whether she came of her own free will, was a party in an arranged marriage, or if there was another reason for her presence in Denmark.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Norwegian theme park wants to be ‘Viking capital of the world’


Theme park Thors Rike (Thor’s Kingdom) wants to attract Viking enthusiasts from all over the world.
The theme park, in the western Norwegian county of Hordaland, aims to become a traditional theme park with a difference – the carousels and rollercoasters will be supplemented by “infotainment” to educate visitors about Vikings and Viking history.

“There is much talk of rollercoasters and rides, but Viking experiences and a Viking ship will also be built. The aim is to take visitors a thousand years back in time while retaining the theme park aspect,” Terje Devold, project leader for the new amusement park, told broadcaster NRK.

Devold said that he envisaged the final result as a “theme park in Viking costume”.

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How to Fight Like a Viking

Courage, camaraderie, and a lack of chivalry made the Norse fearsome fighters.



From the day in 793 when Viking warriors descended on an isolated monastery in the north of England, the Norsemen became an object of fascination and terror for medieval Europeans. “Never before,” an English monk later wrote, “has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race.”

How did the Vikings come to inspire such fear in the hearts of their opponents? Archaeological excavations of Viking graves and battlefields show they used the same chain mail shirts, long spears, and sharp, double-edged swords as other well equipped warriors all across Europe.

Their reputation, experts say, came not so much from their weapons or armor as from their innovative tactics and high morale.

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Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish?

Newly discovered evidence is upending our understanding of how early settlers made a life on the island — and why they suddenly disappeared


On the grassy slope of a fjord near the southernmost tip of Greenland stand the ruins of a church built by Viking settlers more than a century before Columbus sailed to the Americas. The thick granite-block walls remain intact, as do the 20-foot-high gables. The wooden roof, rafters and doors collapsed and rotted away long ago. Now sheep come and go at will, munching wild thyme where devout Norse Christian converts once knelt in prayer.

The Vikings called this fjord Hvalsey, which means “Whale Island” in Old Norse. It was here that Sigrid Bjornsdottir wed Thorstein Olafsson on Sunday, September 16, 1408. The couple had been sailing from Norway to Iceland when they were blown off course; they ended up settling in Greenland, which by then had been a Viking colony for some 400 years. Their marriage was mentioned in three letters written between 1409 and 1424, and was then recorded for posterity by medieval Icelandic scribes. Another record from the period noted that one person had been burned at the stake at Hvalsey for witchcraft.

But the documents are most remarkable—and baffling—for what they don’t contain: any hint of hardship or imminent catastrophe for the Viking settlers in Greenland, who’d been living at the very edge of the known world ever since a renegade Icelander named Erik the Red arrived in a fleet of 14 longships in 985. For those letters were the last anyone ever heard from the Norse Greenlanders.

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Exhibition reveals hidden history of Colosseum after the fall of Rome, from medieval fortresses to slaughterhouses

An artist's impression of the timber walkway used by soldiers guarding the medieval fortress that was built into the side of the Colosseum CREDIT: COLOSSEUM EXHIBITION

Archaeologists in Rome have discovered the remains of a timber walkway used by soldiers guarding a fortress built into the remains of the Colosseum during the Middle Ages.
Gladiatorial contests and other spectacles held in the massive amphitheatre ground to a halt by the sixth century AD with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the arena was gradually appropriated for other uses in succeeding centuries. 
By the 12th century a powerful baronial family, the Frangipane, had commandeered the Colosseum and built a formidable fortress into its southern flank. The walkway was built on the top tier of the amphitheatre, enabling the clan’s soldiers to watch out for enemy forces.  The Frangipane were at war with another family of Roman nobles, the Annibaldi.
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Monday, 6 March 2017

How to Eat Like a Viking


It's no surprise that the fearsome raiders relished wild boar meat. But yogurt?



Participants at the Slav and Viking Festival in Wolin, Poland tend to be sticklers for authenticity. Many adorn their bodies with tattoos, and some adopt a Viking diet, slaughtering and roasting game. 
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID GUTTENFELDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

All that marauding must have left the Vikings famished. It’s easy to envision a group of them around a table, ravenous after a long day of ransacking, devouring giant hunks of meat and hoisting horns-full of ale.

But that wouldn’t quite be fair, or accurate.

As tempting as it is to assume that Viking meals were crude and carnivorous, the truth is that everyday Viking fare included a range of foods that a health-minded modern person would applaud.

Picture, for example, that burly, bearded warrior throwing down his sword to enjoy a tart treat similar to yogurt, or refuel with a tangle of fresh greens.

“The Vikings had a wide range of food and wild herbs available to make tasty and nutritious dishes,” says Diana Bertelsen, who helped research and develop recipes for Denmark’s Ribe Viking Center—a reconstructed Viking settlement where visitors can immerse themselves in just about every aspect of Viking culture, including what and how they ate.

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The toy boat that sailed the seas of time

Some child likely played with this carved wooden boat a thousand years ago. It was found in an abandoned well during an extensive archaeological dig at the Ørland Main Air Station, on the coast west of Trondheim.
Credit: Åge Hojem, NTNU University

A thousand years ago, for reasons we will never know, the residents of a tiny farmstead on the coast of central Norway filled an old well with dirt.

Maybe the water dried up, or maybe it became foul. But when archaeologists found the old well and dug it up in the summer of 2016, they discovered an unexpected surprise: a carefully carved toy, a wooden boat with a raised prow like a proud Viking ship, and a hole in the middle where a mast could have been stepped.

"This toy boat says something about the people who lived here," said Ulf Fransson, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) University Museum and one of two field leaders for the Ørland Main Air Station dig, where the well and the boat were found.

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Introducing Rosemarkie Man: A Pictish Period Cave Burial on the Black Isle


The Pictish period skeletal remains, c . 430 – 630 AD, of a robust young man with severe cranial and facial injuries was found by archaeologists in a cave on the Black Isle in 2016. As has been widely reported, a facial reconstruction of the man was later produced by Dame Sue Black and her team at the University of Dundee. This is an account of the story from a digger’s perspective.


The Rosemarkie Caves Project (RCP), founded and led by Simon Gunn as a part of NOSAS, has since 2006 investigated the archaeological potential of a range of 19 caves on a 2.5 mile stretch of coast north of Rosemarkie. Activities have included comprehensive surveys, test pitting and fuller excavations (see our earlier blog post for an introduction).
In September 2016 it was decided that a full two week excavation would be carried out at “Cave 2B” where previous test pitting results had been revealing some interesting results. Here animal bone and charcoal excavated from depth of over one metre had yielded calibrated radio carbon dates of 600 – 770 AD, which is generally regarded as the Pictish period in Scotland. In addition this particular cave also had an unusual built wall structure spanning its entrance. It was felt by the RCP Committee that these factors made it a prime site for more detailed excavation.

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England

The Danish Viking King Sweyn Forkbeard conquered what is modern day England in 1013. But very little trace of the Danish Vikings is found in modern day Britons’ DNA, concluded DNA scientists in 2015. This conclusion has now come under fire from archaeologists. (Illustration: Wikipedia)

The Vikings plundered, raided, and eventually reigned over a large part of what is modern day England. But exactly how many Danish Vikings migrated west and settled down in the British Isles?
In 2015, a large DNA study sparked a row between DNA scientists and archaeologists after concluding that the Danish Vikings had a “relatively limited” influence on the British—a direct contradiction to archaeological remains and historical documents.
“We see no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation and control of a large part of England,” write DNA scientists in a study published in the scientific journal Nature in 2015.
new study has reignited the debate by claiming that somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 Vikings relocated to England.
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Danish Vikings could have been economic migrants to Britain


The Viking invasion of Britain in the ninth century may have been the result of economic migration, a study has found.
Jane Kershaw, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London,  believes that they crossed the seas find a better life, the Local reported.
She told the told the Danish magazine Videnskab that their motivation was little different from migrants arriving in the United Kingdom and Denmark today.
"At that time, there may not have been enough resources in the Vikings' homeland, but in eastern England the Vikings found an agriculturally rich area," she said.    "We are currently living in a time of large-scale migration,” she added. 
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Monday, 20 February 2017

Facial reconstruction made of 'brutally-killed' Pictish man


The face of a Pictish man who was "brutally killed" 1,400 years ago has been reconstructed by Dundee University researchers.
Archaeologists found the man's skeleton buried in a recess of a cave in the Black Isle, Ross-shire.
Forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black and her team at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) have now detailed the man's injuries.
He was found in a cross-legged position with stones holding down his limbs.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Viking VIP: Grave Belonging to 'Warrior of High Status' Uncovered

Archaeologists found several grave goods within the Viking burial, including a sword (top),
the remains of fabric that was wrapped around the blade of the sword (lower right)
and the decoration on the pommel of the sword (bottom left).
Credit: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology
About 1,000 years ago, Vikings dug a grave for a "warrior of high status" and buried him in a boat that was overflowing with grave goods, including a hefty sword and a broad-bladed ax, according to a new study.
The Viking warrior was buried in western Scotland's Swordle Bay, far from his home in Scandinavia. But, the artifacts found in his grave are Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish in origin, the researchers found.
The rare finding provides insights into how the peoples of western Scotland lived and interacted during the 10th century, when this Viking was buried, the researchers said. [Images: Viking Jewelry Revealed in Sparkling Photos]
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Revealed: the secrets of rare Viking boat burial uncovered in Swordle Bay on Ardnamurchan peninsula


IT was the first intact Viking ship burial to be unearthed on the UK mainland, with two teeth the only remains of the person who was laid to rest there more than 1,000 years ago.
Now the first report on the rare archaeological find, discovered on the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland, has raised the intriguing possibility it may have held the body of a female warrior, rather than a male Viking chieftain as previously assumed.
Researchers believe the person was a warrior of high status, with weapons such as a spear, shield, sword and axe also found buried in the small rowing boat – but there were an assortment of other artefacts including a large iron ladle, a sickle and part of a drinking horn.
An analysis of chemical elements known as isotopes found in the two teeth suggest the Viking may have grown up in a coastal village in Norway.
While there are few clues as to why their elaborate burial site is on the remote Scottish peninsula, one theory is it could have taken place to mark the first settlement of the area by Vikings.
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Neue Erkenntnisse zu den Verwandtschaftverhältnissen auf frühmittelalterlichen Gräberfeldern


In einem gemeinsamen Projekt des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege und der Staatssammlung für Anthropologie und Paläoanatomie München wurden menschliche Skelette aus frühmittelalterlichen Steinplattengräbern in Bayern erstmals genetisch untersucht. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass hier überwiegend Verwandte bestattet wurden.

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Face of Orkney's St Magnus reconstructed


Forensic artist Hew Morrison used specialist computer software for his 
reconstruction of St Magnus

A facial reconstruction has been made of Orkney's St Magnus to help mark the 900th anniversary of his death.
Forensic artist Hew Morrison's research included studies of photographs taken in the 1920s of what is said to be the skull of the 12th Century Norse earl.
Before sainthood, Magnus Erlendsson shared the earldom of Orkney with his cousin, Hakon.
Hakon's jealousy of his cousin's popularity on the islands led to Magnus being put to death.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Shetland celebrates the Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival


The annual Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival has been celebrated in Shetland.
Some 60 "Vikings" paraded through Lerwick, trailed by more than 900 torchbearers known as "guizers".
The celebration culminated in the traditional burning of a galley. Mike Grundon reports from Lerwick.

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Monday, 30 January 2017

How Much Viking Lore Is True?


Archaeologists have confirmed key details in Norse oral histories (but not the dragons, elves, and trolls).



In TV series from Vikings to Game of Thrones, the icy wastes of the north provide the backdrop to dramatic, often violent, stories of kings and warriors, dragons and trolls. The source for many of these dramas is the Icelandic sagas. In her new book, Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the world of the sagas, teasing fact from fiction to show that there was much more to the Norse peoples than rape and pillage. (Find out whether the Vikings deserved their terrible reputation.)
Speaking from her home in Durham, England, she explains how the United States should really celebrate Leif the Lucky, not Columbus, why the Soviets hated the idea that Russia had been founded by the Vikings, and how the gruesome Viking torture known as the Blood Eagle may have been more poetic conceit than historical practice. (Did Vikings make the modern world possible?)

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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Spectacular Viking manor discovered near Birka


A large Viking manor has been found near the ancient town of Birka in Lake Mälaren.
Birka, on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren, 40 kilometres from Stockholm, is thought to be Sweden's oldest town and has been the site of excavations since the 17th century.
But there is still plenty left to be discovered on the island, as Swedish and German researchers' latest find proves.

Thanks to high-resolution geophysical surveys carried out in September 2016, researchers now believe they have located one of the most important Viking halls of the era, situated in the harbour bay of Korshamn, outside of Birka's town boundaries. They believe that it can be dated to the period after 810 AD.

“This kind of Viking period high status manors has previously only been identified at a few places in southern Scandinavia, for instance at Tissø and Lejre in Denmark,” said Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm county museum, in a statement.
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Vast Ancient Necropolis In Southern France Reveals The Path To Christianity Was Slow


A necropolis from the time of the late Antiquity has been discovered in southern France. More than 300 tombs have been unearthed, and the objects recovered suggest that the path towards Christianity was gradual in the region.


After finding objects from the Neolithic Period, the archaeologists discovered a necropolis 
[Credit: Bernard Sillano, Inrap]

Before construction work could take place to build houses, the French state had mandated archaeological surveys on the land, located in the town of the Bouc-Bel-Air.

A team from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) began excavating the 21,900 metre square area, quickly finding fossils from the Neolithic Era (from approx. 10,000BC to 3,000BC).

Small pits in the ground were holding objects including ceramic remains and rudimentary tools


A row of holes in the ground indicates the location of where a wooden structure would have been standing, although it is not known what its purpose was.

However, the site was hiding many more secrets. The archaeologists also discovered that the land had later been used as a necropolis, just before medieval times. A total of 315 tombs were identified, with a great variety of funerary practices documented at the site.

Most of the tombs had simply been covered with tiles but others held the remains of people who had also been placed in wooden or lead coffins. A number of amphora burials – wherein remains of infants or fetuses are put in large jars – were also recovered.


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