Category Archives: NORSE/VIKINGS

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

Uncovered Viking Funeral Ship In Scotland Contains Treasure Trove Of Ancient Relics

A boat which for 1,000 years served as the grave of a high-status Viking has revealed some of its secrets, according to the first detailed report of the iconic discovery.

The tomb, originally unearthed in 2011 on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in western Scotland, contained a rich assemblage of grave goods. It represents the first undisturbed Viking boat burial found on the British mainland.

Viking boat burials have been documented in Scandinavian countries, but are fairly rare. They involve using the boat as a coffin for the body. Archaeologists estimate the boat used to bury the deceased dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century, at a time when Vikings were still exploring and trading along the British Isles.

An in-depth investigation, published in the journal Antiquity, has revealed much of the Viking funerary rite involved in the burial at this remote part of Scotland. However, some mystery remains. The ship rotted into the soil long ago, like the bones of the interred individual.

Only two teeth (both molars) remain of the human. The absence of a body which researchers can biologically sex might raise the compelling, albeit remote, possibility that it was a female boat grave.

“The burial is probably that of a man — but as we only have the two teeth surviving, it is impossible to be definitive. So it is possible, but not likely, that this was the burial of a woman,” Oliver Harris, co-director of the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project (ATP) at the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, told Seeker.

Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.
Some finds recovered from the grave (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and hammer and tongs.

The funerary rite began with cutting a boat-shaped depression into a natural mound of small, rounded beach stones. The boat was then inserted and the body was placed inside, surrounded by a variety of artifacts including a sword, an axe, a drinking horn vessel, a shield boss, a ladle, a sickle, and a ringed pin.

“There is nothing female per se in the grave, though of course there are lots of objects — sickle, the ladle, the knife, the ringed pin — that are not male either,” Harris said.

The grave was filled to the top with stones which may have been taken from a nearby Neolithic burial cairn (a human-made pile of stones).”The final artifacts found in the boat, the spear and shield boss, were higher in the burial, deposited as part of the closure of the monument,” the researchers wrote.

The spearhead was deliberately broken before being deposited, indicating some form of ritual associated with the burial process. The archaeologists also recovered 213 of the boat’s rivets. From the outline of the boat impressed into the soil, they established the boat measured 16 feet in length and would have been a small rowing boat, probably accompanying a larger ship.

Isotopic analysis of the teeth suggests the deceased likely grew up in Scandinavia. It also showed that between the age of 3 and 5 the person’s diet switched for about a year from meat to fish, an unusual food supply at that time.”The switch in the diet probably shows there was some shortage of food for a period of time leading people to eat more fish,” Harris said.

Most importantly, the Viking boat burial reveals the growing relationship between Scotland and the Viking world at that time. It brings together multiple geographic connections, as shown by the grave goods.

A whetstone, used to cut and sharpen tools, was made from a rock that is found in Norway, while the bronze ring pin, likely used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud, appears to come from Ireland.”The burial evokes the mundane and the exotic, past and present, as well as local, national and international identities,” the researchers wrote.

According to Colleen Batey, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Glasgow, the grave goods within the find are very significant.”A sword with shield boss, spearhead and ax are a complete weapon set — which is not so common. And the ladle is an exceptional and uncommon find,” she told Seeker. She added that there is nothing in the burial boat which would support the identification of the interred individual being a female.

However, Viking female boat burials have been excavated in the past. Batey has just published details about a boat grave from Shetland, in the Scottish Islands, which may well have been for a female, or at least one of the occupants may have been a woman, buried with her oval brooch.

One of the most famous Viking ship burials was excavated in 1945 in the Isle of Man at Balladoole. This boat burial contained a man, as well as a woman who had been sacrificed in order to be added to the grave.

Source: allthatsinteresting

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

Saga with the sword.
Saga with the sword. 

An 8- year – old girl on vacation with her family discovered a  pre – Viking Era Sword in a Swedish lake, leading to locals jokingly naming her the “Queen of Sweden.”

The ancient artifact was found by Swedish – American Saga Vanecek while playing in Vidöstern lake near her family’s holiday home.

Museum experts estimate that the sword is about 1,500 years old. A museum expert said that the sword is about 33 inches long and “exceptionally well preserved.”

It even has a sheath made of wood and leather.“I like to walk around finding rocks and sticks in the water and then I usually walk around with my hands and knees in the water and in the sand,” Saga told Radio Sweden in an interview.

As she was exploring the lake, she felt something “odd” beneath her hand and knee.“I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty.I held it up in the air, and I said ‘Daddy, I found a sword!’ ”

“I’m not sure you should be touching it anymore,” her father responded. “It looks fragile.”

The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old.
The sword found in Lake Vidöstern is estimated to be around 1,500 years old. 

The sword was initially reported to be 1,000 years old, but experts at the local museum now believe it may date to around 1,500 years ago, said the BBC.

“It’s not every day that you step on a sword in the lake,” said Mikael Nordstrom, head of the cultural heritage department at the Jönköpings County Museum.

Officials believe that no one found the sword until now because a drought lowered the level of the water.

Saga’s discovery led the museum and local council to carry out further excavations at the site.

They asked the family not to tell anyone about the discovery until they’d checked to see if there were other items of historical interest.

The finding of the sword was made public in the first week of October.

Anyone hoping to see the sword will have to wait at least a year, Nordström told The Local, explaining: “The conservation process takes quite a long time because it’s a complicated environment with wood and leather, so they have several steps to make sure it’s preserved for the future.”“Why it has come to be there, we don’t know,” he continued.

“When we searched a couple of weeks ago, we found another prehistoric object; a brooch from around the same period as the sword, so that means – we don’t know yet – but perhaps it’s a place of sacrifice.

At first, we thought it could be graves situated nearby the lake, but we don’t think that anymore.”

After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found.
After a further search of the lake an Iron Age brooch was also found. 

The sword prompted teams, which included museum staff, to carry out more searches, though none have resulted in such an important find.

The first led to the discovery of the brooch but the oldest object found in the second search was a coin from the 18th century.

Saga’s father said in an interview with The Local that several friends in the community joked that this discovery made Saga the new Queen of Sweden. The press soon took up the anointing of Saga.

On social media, the news has led to people posting things like “She’s the chosen one!” and “Well that’s it then, she’s the new ruler. We all must pledge our fealty.”

In Arthurian legend, only the king could draw a sword from the stone — and later the Lady in the Lake gives Arthur his sacred sword: Excalibur.As for Saga, she said this discovery hasn’t made her want to pursue a career in archaeology.

She said instead she hopes to be a doctor, vet, or an actress in Paris, although she does enjoy learning about “old stuff.”

Source: thelocal

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior

Salisbury plains on a stormy summers day, Wiltshire, England.

Salisbury Plain is a large, open land area in Wiltshire, England covering approximately 300 square miles (775 square km).

In addition to being the British Army’s largest training ground, Stonehenge is also home to one of the UK’s most famous sites.

But Salisbury Plain also bears many other ancient sites, including Barrow Clump, which recently found the remains of ancient inhabitants.

About 3.5 miles from Amesbury, Barrow Clump is only one of what were once several barrows that made up what is called a bowl barrow.

It was built in the Bronze Age but was later re-used as an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the 6th century. Barrow Clump is the only surviving barrow, the others having long since been ploughed over.

Saxon spear from the burial.
Saxon spear from the burial. 

Recently, an archaeological dig was conducted in the area. What makes this dig particularly interesting is that is was done as a part of Operation Nightingale – an initiative by the military that uses archaeology to assist in the recovery of service personnel who were injured in recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.

Salisbury Plain is an important ecosystem, but also an incredibly significant historic site, and Wessex Archaeology has been working with the Defence Infrastructure Organization to protect it.

One of the major threats to the archaeological remains on the plain is not necessarily military exercises, however; it is burrowing animals, of which there are many, especially badgers.

This was the case at Barrow Clump, where the burrowing of these animals was bringing bones and grave items to the surface, and which would eventually lead to the destruction of the site altogether.

Wessex Archaeology was invited by the Defence Infrastructure Organization to oversee an excavation at the burial ground, the aim of which was to record and recover the Anglo-Saxon burials that were at risk, and investigate what Bronze Age burials were still there.

30 military personnel were involved in the dig, and 75 Anglo-Saxon graves were excavated – including that of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, found on the last day of excavation.

A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.
A skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain.

It was evident immediately that the remains were those of a warrior. He was found with a spear by his side, and a sword in his arms, which was actually still in one piece and included traces of the wood and leather scabbard.

His possessions included a belt buckle, knife, and tweezers, which were in a rather good condition despite having been underneath a military pathway. Also found with him were pattern-welded swords, which were indicative of the warrior once having a high status among his people.

Those who found him – participants in Operation Nightingale – were moved, as they felt they might have had some shared experiences.

According to Richard Osgood, senior archaeologist with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, “It was a classic last day of the dig find – there was such a buzz across the site, the soldiers definitely had a sense of kinship.”The warrior was found by using a metal detector for a final sweep of the site and gave off an unusually strong signal.

Osgood has stated that the site was generally better preserved than the ploughed fields outside of the army area: “We found one grave directly below the track, and the skull, only five centimeters down, hadn’t even been cracked – so from a curatorial point of view that was very reassuring.”

Remains of a young boy
Remains of a young boy

Together with the warrior, the excavation uncovered many other Saxon burials, including men, situated around the edges of the site, with women and children in the center.

Grave goods were also recovered, including weaponry, jewelry, and a large amber bead, buried with a young girl.

One of the graves without any other items simply and poignantly contained the remains of a young boy, curled up as if sleeping.

Osgood believes those buried at the site came from a settlement in a nearby valley: “It’s that Saxon thing of looking up the hill and knowing your ancestors are up there on a site that was already ancient and special.”Operation Nightingale has been so successful that several of its veterans have retrained as professional archaeologists.

The finds from the dig have been taken by Wessex Archaeology for more study and conservation, and will eventually find homes in the Wiltshire Museum in nearby Devizes. The Badgers are, according to Osgoode, “happily back in residence in the barrow now.”

Source: realmofhistory

Mass grave of Viking army contained slaughtered children to help dead reach afterlife, experts believe

Mass grave of Viking army contained slaughtered children to help dead reach afterlife, experts believe

The grave of the four youngsters who may have been killed in a burial ritual  PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

The grave of the four youngsters who may have been killed in a burial ritual  PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL 

A mass grave of Viking warriors found in Derbyshire was accompanied by slaughtered children in a burial ritual enacted to help the dead reach the afterlife, archaeologists believe.

Experts from the University of Bristol have reexamined a huge pit of bones uncovered in the 1970s and 80s in Repton.

Examinations at the time suggested the grave spanned centuries, but new radiocarbon analysis has revealed the skeletons actually belong to soldiers from the Great Viking Army, which drove Burgred, the king of Mercia into exile in 873AD.

The excavators also found four youngsters aged between eight and 18 buried together in a single grave with a sheep jaw at their feet, which they dated to the same period. At least two showed signs of traumatic injury suggesting they may have been sacrificed in a ritual to accompany the dead.

Bristol archaeologist Cat Jarman said: “The grave is very unusual. I don’t know of any examples of four young people buried in a single grave like this from anywhere else in England in this period.

“They are also placed in unusual positions – two of them back-to-back – and they have a sheep jaw placed at their feet.

“There are historical accounts from elsewhere in the Viking worlds suggesting human sacrifice may have formed part of Viking funeral.”

In the 10th century, an Arab Muslim writer named Ahmad ibn Fadlan described the funeral of  Swedish chieftain, in which a female servant volunteered to join him in the afterlife. She was given ‘intoxicating drinks’ before being stabbed to death and laid to rest by her master.

The Great Viking Army, which was known to the Anglo-Saxons as The Great Heathen Army, was a coalition of warriors from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway who came together to invade the four kingdoms of England in 865AD.

They landed in East Anglia where they made peace with Edmund the Martyr in return for horses, before marching north to take York the following year.

Over the next decade, the Viking army spread to Wessex, where they were paid to leave by Alfred the Great, before marching on London and Northumbria.

By 873AD they had reached Mercia and overwintered at Repton where they drove King Burgred out of the country and installed Cleowulf to govern the kingdom.

The grave contained the bodies of hundreds of men and women PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

The grave containing 300 people was first found by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle at St Wystan’s Church in Repton underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.

Among the bones were Viking weapons and artifacts, including an ax, several knives, and five silver pennies dating to the period 872-875 AD. 80 percent of the remains were men, mostly aged 18 to 45, with several showing signs of violent injury.

Nearby a second double grave from the site contained two men, the older of whom was buried with Thor’s hammer pendant and a Viking sword. He had received numerous fatal injuries including a large cut to his left femur.

A boar’s tusk had been placed between his legs, and it has been suggested that the injury may have severed his penis or testicles, and the tust positioned to replace what he had lost in preparation for the afterworld.

The body of a warrior holding a Viking sword and wearing a Thor pendant was also found PIC CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
The body of a warrior holding a Viking sword and wearing a Thor pendant was also found PIC CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

But despite the evidence of Viking artifacts, initial radiocarbon dates suggested the bones spanned several centuries and so could not have been the remains of the army.

However, it turned out that the Viking’s high fish diet was responsible for the misleading results.

Mrs. Jarman added: “The previous radiocarbon dates from this site were all affected by something called marine reservoir effects, which is what made them seem too old.

“When we eat fish or other marine foods, we incorporate carbon into our bones that is much older than in terrestrial foods.”This confuses radiocarbon dates from archaeological bone material and we need to correct for it by estimating how much seafood each individual ate.”

Source: dailymail