Monday, 12 August 2019

Unearthed Viking ‘drinking hall’ offers ‘unparalleled’ opportunity to study Norse history


A Viking "drinking hall" that may have been used by a high-ranking chieftain 800 years ago has been unearthed in Orkney, archaeologists have said.

The site, which is believed to have been a high-status Norse hall from as far back as the 10th century, was discovered at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay.

Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga - a historical narrative of the archipelago - as the home of Sigurd, a powerful 12th century chieftain.

Researchers said the area offers an “unparalleled” opportunity to study eating habits in the region over a millennia. 

The discovery is the culmination of years of work by a team from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to find the building.

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Archaeologists find 'Viking drinking hall' during Orkney dig

The site was explored for a number of years before the discovery
Image copyrightPA MEDIA

Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.

The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.

Stone walls, benches, pottery and a fragment of a Norse bone comb were found during the excavation.

It is hoped the site could reveal much about diet, farming and fishing from the Norse period to the 19th Century.

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Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Norse Hall Discovered at Skaill, Rousay, Orkney

kaill farmstead looking towards St Marys kirk and Midhowe Broch. Photo: Bobby Friel @Takethehighview

A large Norse hall has been discovered during excavations at Skaill Farmstead, on the island of Rousay, Orkney. The hall probably dates to the 10th to 12th centuries AD and was discovered below a more recent farmstead.

A team of archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Rousay residents and students have been digging at the site for a number of years, investigating the later stages of the farm complex and its middens (waste heaps), with a particular focus on past diet, farming and fishing practices.

Project co-director Dr Ingrid Mainland said “We have recovered a millenia of middens which will allow us an unparalleled opportunity to look at changing dietary traditions, farming and fishing practices from the Norse period up until the 19th century.”

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Were the Vikings Smoking Pot While Exploring Newfoundland?

The L'Anse aux Meadows archaeological site is the only confirmed Viking settlement in Newfoundland.
Credit: Yves Marcoux/First Light/Getty Images Plus

The discovery of cannabis pollen near a Viking settlement in Newfoundland raises the question of whether the Vikings were smoking or eating pot while exploring North America.

The researchers also found evidence the Vikings occupied this outpost for more than a century, way longer than previously believed.

Located in northern Newfoundland, the site of L'Anse aux Meadows was founded by Vikings around A.D. 1000. Until now, archaeologists believed that the site was occupied for only a brief period. The new research, published today (July 15) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the Vikings lived there possibly into the 12th or even the 13th century.

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Thursday, 18 July 2019

Orkney - an archaeologist's paradise

Make your way all the way to the very top of Scotland, and you’ll find John O’Groats. Keep going and you’ll reach Orkney, a collection of 70 small islands and home to some of the most gorgeous scenery in the British Isles.

The islands also have a rich Scandinavian heritage: settled by the Vikings in the ninth century, Orkney is, says Dr Jane Harrison, Lecturer in Archaeology at OUDCE, ‘an archaeologist’s paradise’. Dr Harrison began working on a dig in the islands in 2004, with Dr David Griffiths, Associate Professor in Archaeology at OUDCE, who directed the Birsay-Skaill Landscape Archaeology Project, and Dr Michael Athanson, an archaeologist and map specialist at the Bodleian. The three have just published a major book about the work, Beside the Ocean: Coastal Landscapes at the Bay of Skaill, Marwick, and Birsay Bay, Orkney: Archaeological Research 2003-18 (Oxbow Books, 2019).

The dig location, at the Bay of Skaill on Orkney’s west coast, is ‘stunning’ says Dr Harrison, though often windy: ‘It can be a bit rough but very beautiful.’ From an archaeologist’s point of view, what makes Orkney so interesting is that ‘a lot of the sites are in rural areas that haven’t been touched by development’. Orkney was one of the first areas to be settled by the Vikings when they moved out of Scandinavia, but until the OUDCE team started work, only a small number of their settlement sites had been scientifically investigated. This meant there was a very rich history waiting to be discovered.

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Monday, 15 July 2019

A Man, a Horse And a Dog Found in Extremely Rare Boat Burial Unearthed in Sweden


Not one, but two incredibly rare boat burials have been excavated in Uppsala, Sweden. One of these was still intact, with remains inside of not just a human, but also a dog and even a horse, all in good condition. According to archaeologists, it is a remarkable find, and indicates the burial of a high-status male.

"This is a unique excavation," said archaeologist Anton Seiler of Swedish archaeology firm The Archaeologists. "The last excavation of this grave type in Old Uppsala was almost 50 years ago."

Ship burials are found all across Europe, particularly in Scandinavian countries, but that doesn't mean they were common. They seemed to have been reserved for the upper echelons of society, those of the very highest status. These elite individuals were interred inside a ship, or a smaller boat, often loaded with rich grave goods.

The addition of horses, dogs, and hunting birds was also not uncommon.

"It is a small group of people who were buried in this way," Seiler explained. "You can suspect that they were distinguished people in the society of the time since burial ships in general are very rare."


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Climate change threatens Greenland's archaeological sites: study

Students and scientists investigate materials found at the Norse site Iffiartarfik
[Credit: Roberto Fortuna, National Museum of Denmark]

In Greenland, climate change isn't just a danger to ecosystems but also a threat to history, as global warming is affecting archaeological remains, according to a study published Thursday.

There are more than 180,000 archaeological sites across the Arctic, some dating back thousands of years, and previously these were protected by the characteristics of the soil.

"Because the degradation rate is directly controlled by the soil temperature and moisture content, rising air temperatures and changes in precipitation during the frost-free season may lead to a loss of organic key elements such as archaeological wood, bone and ancient DNA," the report, published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, stated.

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Sunday, 7 July 2019

Viking Burial Ships Uncovered in 'Sensational' Archaeological Find


Archaeologists have discovered two Viking burial ships in the Swedish municipality of Uppsala.

A find of this type is rare in the country. In fact, only around ten discoveries of this kind have been made to date in the Scandinavian nation, according to researchers.

"This is a unique excavation, the last burial ship was examined 50 years ago," Anton Seiler, an archeologist who works with several Swedish museums, told The Local.

The two vessels—which Saeiler describes as a "sensational" find—were excavated near the grounds of a vicarage in the village of Gamla Uppsala last fall.

These types of burials, where individuals were placed in full-sized boats, were not available to the common folk. They are thought to have been reserved for individuals with high status.

"It is a small group of people who were buried in this way," Seiler said. "You can suspect that they were distinguished people in the society of the time since burial shiaps in general are very rare."


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Viking Grave Discovery In Sweden Leaves Archaeologists Stunned

A member of the Arckeologerna team at the grave site in Sweden.

Arckeologerna, National Historical Museums

Swedish authorities have announced the first viking boat grave discoveries in the country in more than fifty years. Archaeologists taking part in a routine dig in Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), 46 miles (74km) north of Stockholm, were shocked as they unearthed the viking boat graves that included human remains.

There are only a handful of known burial sites of this kind in the country. While rare in Sweden, discoveries of viking burial sites have become more frequent elsewhere in Scandinavia. Last year, Norwegian archaeologists found remains of longhouses and at least one ship lying just below the topsoil near Halden in the south-east of Norway. Just months later, another ship discovery was made on the shores of the Oslofjord at the Midgard Viking Center in Horten.


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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Viking men were buried with cooking gear


Scientists often imagine that men’s and women’s roles during the Viking Age were clearly differentiated, archaeologist Marianne Moen says. “The illustrations show women making food and holding children, while men were active, in battle,” she says. But maybe this wasn’t the way things were. The illustration is from “Vikinger i vest” (Vikings in the West), published in 2009. 
(Illustration: Peter Duun)

What were gender roles like during Viking times? A Norwegian archaeologist thinks we often misinterpret the past based on our current cultural assumptions.
Marianne Moen says that gender roles during Viking times weren’t nearly as differentiated as we might think.

“I think we need to move away from distinguishing between men’s and women’s roles during the Viking times,” she said. Moen has completed her PhD on Viking Age gender roles at the University of Oslo. Her research shows that upper-class men and women generally were buried with the same types of items — including cooking gear.

Moen went through the contents of 218 Viking graves in Vestfold, a county on the southwest side of Oslo Fjord, and sorted the artefacts she found according to type. Many of the graves were richly equipped with everything from cups and plates to horses and other livestock.

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Monday, 3 June 2019

Long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family's drawer


A medieval chess piece that was missing for almost 200 years had been unknowingly kept in a drawer by an Edinburgh family.

They had no idea that the object was one of the long-lost Lewis Chessmen - which could now fetch £1m at auction.

The chessmen were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 but the whereabouts of five pieces have remained a mystery.

The Edinburgh family's grandfather, an antiques dealer, had bought the chess piece for £5 in 1964.

He had no idea of the significance of the 8.8cm piece (3.5in), made from walrus ivory, which he passed down to his family.

They have looked after it for 55 years without realising its importance, before taking it to Sotheby's auction house in London.

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Lewis chessmen piece bought for £5 in 1964 could sell for £1m

The newly discovered medieval Lewis warder chess piece was missing for almost 200 years. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Sotheby's/PA

A small walrus tusk warrior figure bought for £5 in 1964 – which, for years, was stored in a household drawer – is a missing piece from one of the true wonders of the medieval world, it has been revealed.

The Lewis chessmen were found in 1831 in the Outer Hebrides and became beloved museum collections in London and Edinburgh. They have also become well known in popular culture from Noggin the Nog to Harry Potter.

But of the 93 pieces found, five were known to be missing. Until now. On Monday the auction house Sotheby’s announced it had authenticated a missing piece and would sell it in July with an estimated value of between £600,000 and £1m.

The missing piece, measuring 8.8cm in height, is a Lewis warder and – 55 years ago – was purchased for £5, about £100 in today’s money.

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Monday, 27 May 2019

Sensasjonell runestein funnet i Østfold

Karoline Kjesrud jobber for å identifisere runene på den slitte runesteinen. 
(Foto: Kulturhistorisk museum, Universitetet i Oslo)

Arkeologer har funnet en runestein som stammer fra 400-tallet, i Øverby i Rakkestad.

Det er uvanlig å finne runesteiner, og så gamle runesteiner er oppsiktsvekkende, mener Danmarks ledende ekspert på runer, Lisbeth Imer.

Den eldste danske runesteinen er fra starten av 700-tallet.

– Det er litt av en sensasjon. Vi er grønne av misunnelse her i Danmark, sier Imer, som er seniorforsker ved det danske Nationalmuseet.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

A gold serpent pendant from Viking Age Denmark

Photo: Southwest Jutland Museums.

This beautiful serpent pendant was recently discovered near Gørding in Denmark by Jean Stokholm and Doris Birch Mathiesen. Fashioned out of gold and decorated using the filigree technique, it most likely dates from the the 10th century AD.

It was originally suspended via a loop formed out of gold wire that was ornamented with a pair of green glass beads. Serpent pendants such as this one are known from across Viking Age Scandinavia and it has been suggested that they may have been associated with fertility or the god Odin (see Graslund, p. 126). This new find now forms part of the Southwest Jutland Museums.

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Sunday, 19 May 2019

The riddle of Winchester Cathedral's skeletons

A reconstruction of Queen Emma's bones is on display but her skull is not completely intact making it too difficult to create a 3D model of her
Image copyright WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL

For centuries bones believed to be the remains of Anglo-Saxon and early Norman rulers and bishops have been kept in mortuary chests in Winchester Cathedral.

Over the years the skeletal remains have been mixed up and moved around, resulting in some confusion over whose they are.

Fresh research has now dated the contents of the chests and established that the only bones from a mature female are likely to be those of Queen Emma of Normandy.

But that is only the first piece in a puzzle researchers from the University of Bristol are now trying to solve.

They will use DNA extracted from the bones to try to establish the identity of the other 22 people whose remains were in the wooden caskets.

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Friday, 17 May 2019

'Queen's bones' found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests

The six chests have been found to hold the remains of at least 23 individuals
JOHN CROOK / WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL

Bones held in mortuary chests in Winchester Cathedral could include those of an early English queen, researchers have found.

The contents of six chests have been analysed and radiocarbon-dated.

University of Bristol biological anthropologists found they contained the remains of at least 23 individuals - several more than originally thought.

One is believed to be that of Queen Emma who was married to kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut.

Although the chests, originally placed near the high altar, had inscriptions stating who was supposed to be within them, it was known the names bore no relation to the actual contents.

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Bones unidentified for centuries may belong to one of England’s most historically important queens

Anglo-Saxon bones dating back 1,000 years ( Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral )

Early England’s forgotten monarchs are set for a high-profile comeback – more than 1,000 years after they died.

Scientists are investigating the remains of up to 18 Anglo-Saxon kings and queens to try to determine their identities, potentially including the pivotal figure of Queen Emma. Emma of Normandy was the wife of two kings and the mother of two others, and one of the most significant figures of late Anglo-Saxon England.

The trove is believed to be the largest assemblage of medieval royal skeletal material ever scientifically analysed anywhere in the world.

For hundreds of years, some 1,300 royal and other high status bones have been kept in elaborate wooden caskets in what was, back in Anglo-Saxon times, England’s de facto capital city, Winchester.

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Arctic Vikings Field School- Igaliku, South Greenland


Arctic Vikings Field School- Igaliku, South Greenland
Institute for Field Research
June 22 to July 23 2019
This field school is a four-week adventure in a rugged environment that will provide students with a crash course in Arctic Archaeology. Participants will learn how to identify sites and features through landscape survey, perform “keyhole” excavations, and learn how to document their observations quickly and efficiently. Students will not only learn about archaeological field methods but will also have the chance to interact with the local community and gain insight into emerging issues regarding the impact of global climate change on cultural resources in the Arctic. Due to the ongoing issues surrounding the loss of organic deposits in South Greenland, emphasis will be placed on rapid and efficient intervention techniques in the field. This program is RPA certified (Register of Professional Archaeologists) and will benefit students who plan to pursue cultural resource management work in the future.

Further Details...

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Archeologists believe Norway find is rare Viking ship burial

This handout picture released on March 25, 2019 by Vestfold Fylkeskommune shows Funnplass, 
where a ship's grave probably originated from the Viking Age has been discovered on a plain among the burial mounds in Borreparken in Vestfold, eastern Norway

Archeologists believe they have found a rare Viking ship burial site in a region of Norway known for its Viking-era treasures, Norwegian officials said Monday.

Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), experts found a ship-shaped anomaly near other Viking burial mounds in the Borre Park in Vestfold county, southeast of Oslo.

"The GPR data clearly show the shape of a ship, and we can see weak traces of a circular depression around the vessel. This could point to the existence of a mound that was later removed," Terje Gansum, leader of the department for cultural heritage management in Vestfold county, said in a statement.

He said researchers would carry out further investigations to try and assess the size of the preserved find.

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Norway finds another Viking ship


The fields and forests of Borre in Vestfold run along the west side of the Oslo Fjord, in a county that has produced Norway’s other famed Viking ships. 
PHOTO: Vestfold fylkeskommune


On an open field along the Oslo Fjord, among grave mounds from the Viking Age, archaeologists have found what they believe is another buried Viking ship. The discovery was made with the help of georadar that shows a ship-shaped object.

The ship’s form was actually first spotted nearly two years ago, but many examinations were needed in order to confirm that it’s another Viking ship. Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s government minister in charge of climate and the environment, announced the discovery on Monday along with the local Vestfold County Governor Rune Hogsnes.

“It’s not every day we find a new Viking ship, so this is really exciting,” Hogsnes told reporters at a press conference Monday morning. “For us locals it’s no surprise. A lot of treasures from the Viking times are hidden under the turf in our county.”

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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Home of 7th Century princess unearthed in Coldingham

The dig concentrated on ground around Coldingham Priory in the Borders
DIGVENTURES/AERIAL-CAM

Archaeologists believe they have found remains of the long-lost home of a 7th Century princess in the Borders.

A monastery was founded near the village of Coldingham by Princess Æbbe nearly 1,400 years ago.

It was destroyed by Viking raiders in the 9th Century and previous attempts to pinpoint its location have failed.

However, excavations led by DigVentures have found traces of a large, narrow ditch which they believe was the boundary of the religious settlement.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Yes, That Viking Warrior Buried with Weapons Really Was a Woman

An illustration of what the female warrior may have looked like.
Credit: Drawing by Tancredi Valeri; Copyright Antiquity Publications Ltd.

The ancient warrior was given a prestigious Viking burial, complete with deadly Viking weapons, a bag of gaming pieces (possibly to represent military command) and two horses, one bridled for riding. This mighty warrior — long thought to be be a man — made headlines in 2017 when researchers in Sweden announced that the individual was, in fact, a woman.

The intense scrutiny that followed caught the researchers by surprise.

The barrage of questions from the public and other scientists was unrelenting: Were the researchers sure they had analyzed the right bones? Was there more than one body in the burial, of which one was surely a man? And if the warrior's sex was indeed female, is it possible they were a transgender man? [See Images of the Viking Woman Warrior's Burial]

Now, in a new study published online yesterday (Feb. 19) in the journal Antiquity, the researchers of the original study have reaffirmed their conclusion that this mighty individual was a woman. The new study addresses all the questions people raised, and more.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Archaeologists Make 'Very Special' Viking Era Discovery in Norway


Gjellestad, Norway: The site of the discovery
ERICH NAU, NIKU


Almost one thousand years after the end of the Viking Age, Norwegian archaeologists have made a sensational find near Halden in the south-east of Norway. The burial mound and adjacent field harbour several longhouses and at least one ship burial.

Digital data visualizations reveal the well-defined 20-meter-long ship-shaped structure, with indications that the lower part is well preserved. Incredibly, the ship lies just below the topsoil, with just 50cm separating it from the fresh air.

The discovery was made quite by accident when a local farmer wanted to dig ditches to solve an ongoing drainage problem in a boggy field. In previous years trenches in the area had turned up items of interest, so archaeologists from Østfold county decided to try a non-intrusive method of analysis before giving the work the go-ahead.

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Vikings Were Fearless. Except When It Was Too Cold

Aerial view of the Greenland ice sheet from a helicopter.
Credit G. Everett Lasher / Northwestern

Greenland was balmy when the Vikings invaded, a new study based on isotopes in flies has proven, and they left as the glaciers bore down

Vikings evoke many associations, none of which involve relaxing on the seaside and smelling flowers on a balmy evening. The Scandinavian warriors are more usually perceived as being roughnecks in horned helmets who laughed off subzero temperatures. And maybe they did, but a new study by Northwestern University, published this week in Geology, has proven the theory that when the Vikings braved the violent northern seas and conquered Greenland from auks in the 10th century, the island’s climate was less merciless and more Mediterranean.

Also, the Vikings suddenly disappeared from Greenland in the middle of the 15th century, just as the warm snap was ending and the glaciers were sweeping down. A combination of factors seems to have crushed the formerly prosperous settlement, but cold seems to have been key. They could either go native and become horn-helmeted Inuits, or leave. They left.

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Ancient DNA from Viking Graves Proves the Fierce Fighters Rode Male Horses

Modern Icelandic horses are likely descended from the horses that Vikings were buried with, 
more than 1,000 years ago.
Credit: Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Vikings who settled in Iceland more than 1,000 years ago valued their horses so much that the men were buried with their trusty steeds. And DNA analysis of these treasured animals recently proved that the horses consigned to the grave with their manly owners were males, too.
For decades, archaeologists have studied the contents of hundreds of Viking graves in Iceland. Many of these graves also contained the remains of horses that appeared to have been healthy adults when they died.
Because the horses seemed well cared for in life — before they were killed and buried, that is — they were considered to be important to the men whose remains lay nearby. Recently, scientists conducted the first ancient DNA analysis of bones from 19 horses in Viking graves, and found that nearly all of the animals were male, a tantalizing clue about vanished Viking culture
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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Archeologists find Viking sword in southern Turkey


Turkish archeologists uncover Viking sword from 9th-10th century in ancient city of Patara

Searching through the ancient city of Patara in Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkish archeologists uncovered a sword dating back to over a millennium.

Lead excavator Professor Havva Iskan Isik of Akdeniz University told Anadolu Agency that they identified a Viking sword from the ninth or 10th century.

Isik said they have been carrying out excavation works for 30 years and have discovered important archaeological evidence so far. 

"Finding a Viking sword in a harbor city in the Mediterranean area is of great importance," she said.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

How Industrial-Scale Tar Production Powered the Viking Age

“Viking Ships Before a Rocky Coast,” by Michael Zeno Diemer (1911)
Image: Wikimedia

Vikings acquired the capacity to produce tar at an industrial scale as early as the 8th century AD, according to new research. The protective black goo was applied to the planks and sails of ships, which the Vikings used for trade and launching raids. Without the ability to produce copious amounts of tar, this new study suggests, the Viking Age may have never happened.

Tar sounds like a relatively modern invention, but it’s actually been around for quite some time. By the 16th century, Europeans had developed a technique whereby piles of wood, placed in funnel-shaped pits, were burned slowly under an oxygen-constricting layer of an earth-clay mixture and charcoal. Dripping tar from the burning wood fell into an outlet pipe, from which the precious material was collected.

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The secret of Viking success? A good coat of tar…

Industrial pits led to waterproofed ships for epic pillaging raids


A replica Viking longboat in the Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands. The Norse warrior race dominated European seas in the 8th century. 
Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty

Vikings conquered Europe thanks to an unexpected technological innovation. They learned how to make tar on an industrial scale and used it to waterproof their longships so that they could undertake large-scale, lengthy pillaging trips around Europe – and across the Atlantic, say archaeologists. Norse raiders were the original Boys from the Blackstuff, it transpires.

The discovery is the work of Andreas Hennius, of Uppsala University. In Antiquity, he reports finding critical evidence that shows output from tar pits in Scandinavia increased dramatically just as Vikings began raiding other parts of Europe. These pits could have made up to 300 litres in a single production cycle, enough to waterproof large numbers of ships. “Tar production … developed from a small-scale activity … into large-scale production that relocated to forested outlands during the Viking period,” says Hennius. “This change … resulted from the increasing demand for tar driven by an evolving maritime culture.”

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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Norse World goes live!


And the Norse World resource goes live! Today, on 7 November the research infrastructure Norse World is being released with free access for researchers and the members of the public.
Norse World is an interactive spatial-temporal resource for research on spatiality and worldviews in medieval literature from Sweden and Denmark. Go to the map to see for yourself! Or find out more about the project and the Norse World infrastructure.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Do Canadian Carvings Depict Vikings? Removing Mammal Fat May Tell

Credit: Shutterstock

Carvings uncovered in the Canadian Arctic may be the earliest portraits of the Vikings created in the Americas. But archaeologists have been puzzling over whether the artwork really shows the infamous seafarers.

Now, scientists think a simple, flammable liquid called acetone could help solve this mystery by removing sea-mammal oil and fat from these artifacts and other artifacts found near them. Until now, those contaminants have prevented scientists from getting an accurate radiocarbon date, according to a paper published in the August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Oily problem
The Vikings, along with other peoples who lived in arctic or subarctic environments, used oils and fat from sea mammals for a variety of purposes, including preparing food and cooking. The substances interfere with radiocarbon dating, because rather than getting the date of the artifact, you may get the date for the oil and fat covering the object, study authors Michele Hayeur Smith, Kevin Smith and Gørill Nilsen wrote in the new paper.

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Extraordinary Viking Age Thor’s Hammer Amulet Discovered in Iceland

Photo: Fornleifastofnun Íslands/The Institute of Archaeology, Iceland

A sandstone Thor’s hammer amulet has been found at the Viking-era farmstead Bergsstaðir in Þjórsárdalur valley. The site was last occupied 900 years ago and the amulet is believed to be around the same age. Only one Thor’s hammer has ever been found in Iceland before.

“These are all objects from the Viking age,” said Ragnheiður Gylfadóttir, an archaeologist with Iceland’s Institute of Archaeology, speaking with ruv.is.

When the team arrived at the site, she said, they quickly found rocks that looked like they could have been foundations for longhouse walls. In addition, they found remnants of human habitation, such as an ash pile and burned bones.

“We found a so-called ‘heinarbrýni.’ It’s a type of whetstone that was usually kept on the belt, used to sharpen needles, for example,” continued Gylfadóttir. “And we found a fragment from a soapstone pot.”

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Archaeological find in Þjórsárdalur: Viking Age farm destroyed by 1104 Hekla eruption

STÖNG FARM The best known Viking Age farm to be abandoned in the catastrophic 
1104 eruption. Photo/Thomas Romst

A recent archeological find in Þjórsárdalur valley in South Iceland reminds us just how much of the history of Viking Age Iceland is still shrouded in mystery. Several items, including a Thor's Hammer amulet, were discovered at a previously unknown farmstead. The farm is believed to have been abandoned after an eruption in Hekla volcano.

Destroyed by Hekla​
A catastrophic eruption in Hekla in the year 1104 destroyed numerous farms in Þjórsárdalur valley. The thick ash and tephra deposited by the volcano left previously prosperous farmlands uninhabitable. Historians had knowledge of 20 different farms which were abandoned following the eruption. The number is up to 21 following the most recent find.

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Archaeologists discover Thor's Hammer amulet at previously unexplored site in S. Iceland

THOR'S HAMMER The small amulet was carved out of sandstone. 
Photo/Fornleifastofnun Íslands

Most major archeological finds in Iceland in recent years have come as complete accidents, or during construction work. The discovery of a large Viking longhouse in downtown Reykjavík in the summer of 2015, a large burial site in North Iceland in the summer of 2017, and the discovery of a Viking sword by hunters in the summer of 2016 come to mind.

The same applies to the latest archeological find dating back to the Viking Age. Archeologists who were registering sites in Þjórsárdalur valley in South Iceland last week found four items which have not been dated yet, but which are most likely from the first centuries of the settlement of Iceland. The items were found in a previously unexplored and unknown farmstead. 

The site was discovered by a local who directed the archeologists to the location. During the registration the archeologists found four objects lying in the surface soil: A whet, an iron pick, a buckle and a small stone amulet in the shape of Thor's Hammer.

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I pulled a 1,500-year-old sword out of a lake

Saga Vanecek: ‘I had to give the sword to the local museum.’ 
Photograph: Hilda Grahnat for the Guardian

People are saying I am the queen of Sweden because of the legend of King Arthur

Every summer, my parents, my six-year-old brother and I go to stay in a cabin by a lake called Vidöstern in Tånnö in southern Sweden, not far from where we live. I like to build sandcastles on the beach, or find rocks to skim across the water and see how many times I can make them bounce. Mamma says she used to play and swim in the lake when she was little, too.

On 15 July this year, I was playing on the beach with my friend, when Daddy told me to get a buoy from the cabin: he said the water level in the lake was very shallow and we had to warn any boats that might come along because it was dangerous. He said it had been the hottest summer for 260 years.

I waded into the water and it was very soft on my skin and refreshing, a little bit cool but not too cold. It was a nice feeling because the sun was shining and I was very hot. Daddy was begging me to rush so he could watch the World Cup final, but I like to take my time about things so I ignored him.

I was crawling along the bottom of the lake on my arms and knees, looking for stones to skim, when my hand and knee felt something long and hard buried in the clay and sand. I pulled it out and saw that it was different from the sticks or rocks I usually find. One end had a point, and the other had a handle, so I pointed it up to the sky, put my other hand on my hip and called out, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Georadar detects a Viking ship in Norway

The outline of the Viking ship can clearly be seen in this animation of the radar data 
[Credit: Lars Gustavsen, NIKU]

Archaeologists armed with a motorized high resolution georadar have found a Viking ship and a large number of burial mounds and longhouses in Østfold County in Norway.

The discoveries were made by archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) with technology developed by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro).

"We are certain that there is a ship there, but how much is preserved is hard to say before further investigation”, says Morten Hanisch, county conservator in Østfold.

"This find is incredibly exciting as we only know three well-preserved Viking ship finds in Norway excavated long time ago. This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance as it can be investigated with all modern means of archaeology”, says Dr. Knut Paasche, Head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU, and an expert on Viking ships.

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Enormous, rare Viking ship burial discovered by radar

Using ground-penetrating radar mounted on the front of an all-terrain vehicle, archaeologists in Norway peered below farm fields and discovered the outlines of a Viking ship and long houses.

Whoever was buried in the ship wasn’t alone. There are traces of at least eight other burial mounds in the field, some almost 90 feet across. Three large longhouses—one 150 feet long—are also visible underneath the site’s soil, together with a half-dozen smaller structures.

Archaeologists hope future excavations will help date the mounds and the longhouses, which may have been built at different times. “We can’t be sure the houses have the same age as the ship,” Paasche says.

Paasche plans to return to the site next spring to conduct more sophisticated scans, including surveying the site with a magnetometer and perhaps digging test trenches to see what condition the ship’s remains are in. If there is wood from the ship’s hull preserved beneath the ground, it could be used to date the find more precisely.

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Norway makes rare discovery of Viking ship traces

FOX News

Archaeologists said on Monday they have found what they believe are traces of a Viking ship buried in southeast Norway, a rare discovery that could shed light on the skilled navigators' expeditions in the Middle Ages. 

The boatlike shape was detected about 50 centimetres underground in a tumulus, a burial mound, with the use of a ground-penetrating radar in Halden, a municipality located southeast of Oslo.

"In the middle of the mound, we discovered what is called an anomaly, something that is different from the rest and clearly has the shapes and dimensions of a Viking ship," Knut Paasche, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), told AFP.

"What we cannot say for sure is the condition of the conservation. Yes there was a boat there, but it's hard to say how much wood is left," Paasche said.

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Norway makes rare discovery of Viking ship traces

This handout picture released on 15 October 2018, by Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) shows an Image generated from a georadar, showing what archaeologists believe is a viking ship buried near Halden, some 150km south of Oslo, Norway. — AFP pic

“In the middle of the mound, we discovered what is called an anomaly, something that is different from the rest and clearly has the shapes and dimensions of a Viking ship,” Knut Paasche, an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), told AFP.

“What we cannot say for sure is the condition of the conservation. Yes there was a boat there, but it’s hard to say how much wood is left,” Paasche said.

The Vikings, Northern European warriors and merchants who sailed the seas between the 8th and 11th century, would bury their kings and chiefs aboard a boat hoisted onshore and left under a mound of earth.

Only three Viking ships in good condition have been discovered in Norway in the past, including the well-preserved Oseberg ship discovered in 1903. All three of them are now exhibited in a museum near Oslo.

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Friday, 5 October 2018

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

Eight-year-old Saga and her sword. Photo: Andrew Vanecek
An eight-year-old Swedish-American girl came across an exciting find swimming at her local lake, when she pulled an ancient sword from its depths.
"It's not every day that one steps on a sword in the lake!" Mikael Nordström from Jönköpings Läns Museum said when explaining the significance of the find.

But that's exactly what happened to Saga Vanecek, who found the relic at the Vidöstern lake in Tånnö, Småland earlier this summer.

"I was outside in the water, throwing sticks and stones and stuff to see how far they skip, and then I found some kind of stick," Saga told The Local.

"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!' When he saw that it bent and was rusty, he came running up and took it," she continued.

The water at the lake by the family's summer house was low this year due to drought, which may have been part of the reason Saga was able to reach the sword. Because of this, the family was putting a buoy out in the lake to warn other boats of an underwater slab of concrete which was dangerous in the low water levels.
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Girl, 8, pulls a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake in Sweden

JONKOPING COUNTY MUSEUM

An eight-year-old found a pre-Viking-era sword while swimming in a lake in Sweden during the summer.
Saga Vanecek found the relic in the Vidostern lake while at her family's holiday home in Jonkoping County.
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.
"It's not every day that you step on a sword in the lake!" Mikael Nordstrom from the museum said.
The level of the water was extremely low at the time, owing to a drought, which is probably why Saga uncovered the ancient weapon.

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