Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Up Helly Aa, longship burning festival – in pictures


Hundreds of costumed people carried flaming torches as they took to the streets of Shetland, in Scotland, during the annual Up Helly Aa festival to celebrate the island’s Norse heritage

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)

Mon 26 Jan to Fri 17 Apr 2015

University of Oxford 

Department of Continuing Education

Further details...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Viking blacksmith found buried with his tools


A well-stocked grave of a blacksmith from the Viking Age is one of the best finds in Norway last year, according to Norwegian archeologists. 


This was one of the tools found in the blacksmith's grave. The archeologists think  his contemporaries wanted to show how talented and versatile the blacksmith  was in his craft [Credit: Howell Roberts/University Museum of Bergen] 

Leif Arne Nordheim, who lives in Sogndalsdalen on Norway’s west coast, decided to do something about some flagstones in his garden that irritatingly refused to lie flat. When he removed the stones he caught sight of something made of iron. 

Brushing some of the objects off, he recognised them as a blacksmith’s hammer and tongs. 

Nordheim contacted the regional culture authorities but had not dreamed that the artefacts dated back to the early Viking Age.

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Viking Artefacts


Viking Artefacts is an interesting blog run by Thomas Kamphaus.

He describes his interest as follows: 

"Why interested in vikings ?"

Well, I guess every man approching it's 40-ies has a right for developing a strange hobby. It thrills me more than the collecting of sugar sackets. 

Seriously: I have always been attached to history, and in general the period from 500 - 1200. The Frankish/merovingian period and then the viking period. Collecting artefacts just have seemed to pop up out of the blue . The viking craftmanship in several to considered styles I find very acctractive. Compared to the number of Roman artefacts p.e. the vikings - although excavated intensively the last 25/35 years - always stayed a sort of elusive and mysterious to us what sets them apart of other cultures.

You can find the blog here...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Mid-Norway Vikings among the first to sail to British Isles

Circular brooch from a woman’s grave in Nes, Bjung municipality. (Photo: Per Fredriksen, NTNU University Museum)

Archaeological findings show that Vikings from mid- and western Norway were among the first to make the trip to the British Isles.


Vikings living in Trøndelag, a region in the middle part of Norway, were among the first in Scandinavia to travel west. A new analysis of burial sites in Trøndelag from the year 800 and later undertaken by researchers at the NTNU University Museum is giving us a clearer image of who decided to stay in Norway, and who left to travel to the British Isles.
The burials sites examined contained a lot more foreign artefacts than previously believed, many of which coincide the first known Viking raids in Lindisfarne, England in 793.
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Oldest Danish town possibly older


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

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


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

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

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

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Monday, 8 December 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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Major Viking Hall Identified in Sweden


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

The Aska barrow, where the hall has been found, was long seen as a burial mound. But archaeologists have now revealed that it is a foundation platform for a large building, most likely dating from the Viking Period. The hall was probably the home of a royal family whose rich graves have previously been excavated nearby.
“Parallels are known from several of the era's elite sites, such as Fornsigtuna near Stockholm and Lejre near Roskilde. The closest similarities are however seen in a recently excavated feasting hall at Old Uppsala near Stockholm. Such close correspondences suggest intensive communication between the two sites”, says Martin Rundkvist of Umeå University
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Monday, 1 December 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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



Friday, 28 November 2014

Sword’s Secrets Revealed


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

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

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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


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

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

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Recreating clothes from Norway's Iron Age


A few years ago, the oldest known piece of clothing ever discovered in Norway, a tunic dating from the Iron Age, was found on a glacier in Breheimen. Now about to be reconstructed using Iron Age textile techniques, it is hoped the tunic will inspire Norwegian fashion designers. 


One of our aims in reconstructing the tunic is to learn more about how the textile  was made, how time-consuming it was to make, and how the wool was used,  explains Marianne Vedeler [Credit: Yngve Vogt] 

Excitement 

There was huge excitement among archaeologists when, three years ago, the oldest piece of clothing ever discovered in Norway – a woollen tunic – was found by an archaeological expedition to the Lendbreen glacier in Breheimen National Park. As a result of climate change, the Lendbreen glacier, just like other glaciers throughout Norway, has in the past few years been retreating. The melting of the glaciers is constantly revealing ancient artifacts.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

A peek inside a Viking piggybank: CT scans of treasure chest reveal hidden brooches, gold ingots and ivory beads


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

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

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Scanning the Viking Hoard




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

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

14th century birch bark scrolls preserved in mud tell Novgorod’s story


Anote, from father to son in 14th century Russia was etched into the bark of a birch tree and curled into a scroll. The scroll and a dozen others like it were among the finds from this year’s digging season.
These scrolls will be added to a collection of more than 1,000 birch-bark documents uncovered in the Russian city of Novgorod, after being preserved for hundreds of years in the mud.
Send me a shirt, towel, trousers, reins, and, for my sister, send fabric,” the father, whose name was Onus, wrote to his son, Danilo, the block letters of Old Novgorod language, a precursor to Russian, neatly carved into the wood with a stylus. Onus ended with a bit of humour. “If I am alive,” he wrote, “I will pay for it.”
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Monday, 13 October 2014

Treasure hunter finds Viking hoard


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

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Monday, 29 September 2014

Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?


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

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

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

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Viking Ireland - the Videos


In order to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, the National Museum of Ireland have produced a superb set of videos depicting various aspects of Viking Age Ireland.

You can find the Museum’s Website for these videos here…

Or you can find the individual videos on Youtube:
Viking Ireland 1 – Weapons – The Axe

Viking Ireland 2 – Weapons – The Sword


Viking Ireland 3 – Viking Wealth and Trade


Viking Ireland 4 – Viking Women in Ireland


Viking Ireland 5 – Arrival of Vikings and Beliefs


Viking Ireland 6 – The Irish and the Vikings


Viking Ireland 7 – Daily Life in Viking Ireland


Viking Ireland 8 – Legacy of the Vikings in Ireland


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Viking Blacksmith’s Grave Uncovered in Norway

The weapons and tools from the grave

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

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Friday, 1 August 2014

Viking warriors and treasures are buried beneath Dublin

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

A massive research project, 15 years in the making, has revealed that beneath Dublin’s modern streets lies a trove of buried Viking warriors and artifacts.
Archaeologists say the number of Viking warrior burials in Dublin is astounding. A project cataloguing these burials was began in 1999. Now nearing its conclusion, the project will result in the publication of an 800-page tome titled ‘Viking Graves and Grave Goods in Ireland.’
“As a result of our new research, Kilmainham-Islandbridge is now demonstrably the largest burial complex of its type in western Europe, Scandinavia excluded,” says Stephen Harrison, who co-wrote the catalogue with Raghnall Ó Floinn, the director of the National Museum of Ireland. The museum houses a Viking exhibition, which includes a ninth century Viking skeleton with sword and spearhead, found in the War Memorial Park, Islandbridge in 1934.
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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

'Hammer of Thor' unearthed on the Danish Island


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


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

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

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

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

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’


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

Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.
The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.
Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough.
They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired.
It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh.
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Monday, 16 June 2014

Preserving the Battle of Hastings from contamination


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


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

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

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

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Monday, 9 June 2014

VIKING AGE REVNINGE WOMAN: AN EXCEPTIONAL FIND


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

New knowledge

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

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

East Lothian skeleton may be 10th Century Irish Viking king

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

A skeleton discovered on an archaeological dig in East Lothian may be a 10th Century Irish Viking who was king of Dublin and Northumbria.
King Olaf Guthfrithsson led raids on Auldhame and nearby Tyninghame shortly before his death in 941.
The remains excavated from Auldhame in 2005 are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank.
They include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland.
The find has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that the skeleton could be that of King Olaf or one of his entourage.
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Possible Viking settlement in the Ålands found


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


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

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

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

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Friday, 16 May 2014

The Vandals: victims of a bad press?


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

The name of the Vandals is synonymous today with wanton violence and destruction. But it seems to me that, just like the Vikings, the Vandals have suffered from a bad press. The surviving accounts of their sack of Rome in AD 455, of their further piratical raids around the Mediterranean, and of their persecution of the Catholic inhabitants of North Africa are all presented through the eyes of their enemies and opponents: the Roman and Byzantine Empires and the established Church. Clearly, the Vandals were regarded as the ‘bad guys’ of the day and we, too have been led into thinking of them as wild barbarians, intent on the destruction of Rome and its civilisation.
But how balanced a picture do we get from the contemporary accounts? We do not, after all, have the Vandal side of the story, although we should probably discount the suggestion that they were invited into North Africa, their final home, in support of the Roman governor. He may have been made a scapegoat later for the Vandal conquest of the region.
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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

DORSET VIKING AGE MASS BURIAL PUBLICATION


In 2009 during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology made one of the most exciting, and disturbing, archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years. Around 50 skeletons, predominantly of young adult males, were found in an old quarry pit. All had been decapitated. Their bodies were thrown into the grave, while their heads were placed in a pile located at one edge.

Archaeologists knew they had found something special as they uncovered the tangle of human bones, but it was only as the scientific analysis of the skeletons progressed that the full international significance of the discovery became clear. What the archaeologists had found was a mass grave of executed Vikings.

Rare find

Oxford Archaeology Project Manager David Score said: “To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development. Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual.”
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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Did the Vikings Travel to Madeira?


MADEIRA, MACARONESIA—Dates for a sample of fossilized bone from a house mouse suggest that the rodents were carried to the island of Madeira by European colonists before 1036, or 400 earlier than previously thought. (The Portuguese took possession of Madeira in 1419.) “Current populations of house mice on Madeira show similarities in mitochondrial DNA with those in Scandinavia and northern Germany, but not with those in Portugal,” Josep Antoni Alcover of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies told Phys.org. Could the mice have traveled to the island with the Vikings? Further morphologic and genetic studies of the fossils are needed. “There are no historical references so far about the Vikings traveling to Macaronesia,” Alcover added.

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Man landing on Madeira could be four centuries prior to its colonization by the Portuguese


According to the results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, house mice may have landed on the island before 1036, most likely transported by a ship. The article suggests that the introduction of this species would result in an ecological disaster.
Until now, the arrival of the man to Macaronesia was documented in two waves: one being aboriginal, limited to the Canary Islands about two millenniums ago; and the other colonial, from the 14th century onwards, which took place in every island of the archipelago. According to historical data, the Portuguese took official possession of Madeira in 1949, when the colonization was started.
The team of researchers, which is also composed of scientists from Germany and the University of La Laguna (Canary Islands, Spain), has analyzed two samples of bones found in Ponta de São Lourenço. The tiny size of the first sample has made impossible to date it, but the second sample has been dated between 900 and 1030, which leads to the earliest evidence for the presence of mice on Madeira Island.
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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Vikings Online Course


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers 

12 May to 25 July 2014


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers is an online archaeology course run by the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education.
The course runs for ten weeks and successful completion carries an award of ten CATS points. Students write two short assignments as part of the course.
Online forums for each unit enable students to discuss the topic being studied, and help from the online tutor is always available
You can find more details here...
You can find details of other online archaeology courses here...

Metal detectorists unearth Viking gold


After hours of searching through the mud with metal detectors, treasure hunters Frank Pelle and Bent Gregersen made the discovery of their lives on a ploughed field in the Danish island of Bornholm earlier in April. 




X-ray scans revealed 250 gold and silver coins dating back to Viking days 
[Credit: Bornholms Museum] 

The two lucky gold-diggers found an ancient Viking gold treasure hidden in the ground. 

"It was an amazing feeling, for we had searched for hundreds of hours without luck," Pelle told Ekstra Bladet. 

After studying x-rays of collected earth samples, Bornholms Museum, the local archaeological museum, estimated that the treasure of 250 gold and silver coins was buried in the ground in the 1080s.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Skeletons of foetus, heavily pregnant woman and crammed men found at York church

The foetal skeleton found at All Saints in York © Courtesy All Saints Church

The bones of a foetus and its heavily pregnant mother have been found in a chamber of All Saints church in York, where three men were found “shoved” into a tomb with grave markings designed to ward off evil spirits during the early 13th century.

Ancient serviceable drains, pottery fragments dating from Roman times to the 18th century, entrenched Viking pottery and Anglian pieces with possible links to the baptism of St Edwin, the 7th century King of Northumbria, have also been discovered in the Lady Chapel, where a medieval-style tile pavement has been laid in an English parish church for the first time in 500 years.


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Medieval account of Irish battle borrowed from the Iliad


As Ireland marks the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf – portrayed as a heroic encounter between Irish and Vikings which defined the nation’s identity - new research argues that our main source for what happened may be more literary history than historical fact. 


An 1826 painting of the Battle of Clontarf by the Irish artist, Hugh Frazer 
[Credit: Isaacs Art Centre/Wikimedia Commons] 

The standard account of the Battle of Clontarf – a defining moment in Irish history which happened 1,000 years ago this week – was partly a “pseudo-history” borrowed from the tale of Troy, new research suggests. 

The findings, which are to be published in a forthcoming book about the intellectual culture of medieval Ireland, coincide with extensive celebrations in Dublin marking the millennium of Clontarf, which was fought on Good Friday, April 23, 1014.

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Swedes open coffin of 850 year old king


Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. 


Legend has it the bone damage was a fatal blow from when he was killed on ascension in 1160 
[Credit: Bertil Ericson/TT] 

"This was a very special occasion, especially considering the importance of Saint Erik religiously in Sweden," Uppsala Cathedral Chaplain Lars Åstrand told The Local. 

The casket contained the bones of King Erik, who was later made a saint, together with a gilded copper crown decorated with semi-precious stones. 

"The crown is unique - there's nothing as old as this of its kind in Sweden. It's certainly the oldest medieval royal crown in the country," Åstrand said.

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Monday, 28 April 2014

Vikings Live: bringing our shared history to the cinema screen

Vikings Live presenter Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes, historian, author and broadcaster, presenter of Vikings Live from the British Museum
When you’re about to handle an archaeological artefact, interesting things happen to your body. In anticipation of the pleasure to come, your heart starts to race a little faster, the hair on the back of your neck might begin to rise, palms can become sticky. And of course there is the nagging knowledge that the security of that unique, precious – sometimes priceless – traveller in time is, physically, in your hands.
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Vikings Live on the horizon

Vikings Live presenters, from left: Michael Wood, Bettany Hughes and Gareth Williams

Michael Wood, historian and broadcaster, presenter of Vikings Live from the British Museum
Hotfoot back from Shanghai where I am filming The Story of China, and now very excited about tomorrow night at the British Museum! We had a production meeting yesterday going through the script and suddenly the spine-tingling ‘liveness’ of it all felt very immediate. Vikings Live is now really coming together, with a series of very exciting scenes and a team of terrific contributors. Gareth, the exhibition curator, will even be sweltering in full Viking war-gear to explain the ethos of a warrior society. A string of inspiring experts will be your guides through the glitter and violence of the age, led by everybody’s favourite museum director / magician, Neil MacGregor, who has now turned his hand to A History of the Viking World in a Thousand Objects!
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Building a Viking boat today


Mike Selwood, Assistant Boat Manager, National Maritime Museum Cornwall
In September 2013, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall was approached by the British Museum and asked if we would produce something Viking to be filmed for theirVikings Live cinema broadcast, after seeing the Bronze Age boat replica that we had built and launched in March 2013.
Of course, we said yes. After plenty of chats with Gareth Williams, the curator of the BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend and Patricia Wheatley, Executive Producer of Vikings Live, our boat restoration team started to build the stem section of a Viking-style boat, to be constructed using traditional methods.
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Friday, 11 April 2014

Log boat dating back 4,500 years found in Lough Corrib


A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib, along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons.
The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts.
Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who was informed of the finds recently, has described them as “exceptional”.
The three Viking-style battle axes recovered from one of the vessels will be a centrepiece in the National Museum’s Battle of Clontarf commemorative exhibition, which is due to open later this month.
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