Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Somerset skeletons are oldest evidence of monks found in UK


Carbon dating of remains unearthed in Beckery chapel near Glastonbury indicate monastic life dating back to fifth or early sixth centuries


Skeletons excavated at a site near Glastonbury are the oldest examples of monks ever found in the UK, carbon dating has proved.
The remains, unearthed at the medieval Beckery chapel in Somerset, said to have been visited by legendary figures such as King Arthur and St Bridget, indicate a monastic cemetery dating back to the fifth or early sixth centuries AD, before Somerset was conquered by the Saxon kings of Wessex in the seventh century.
Archaeologists first located an extensive cemetery of between 50 and 60 bodies during an excavation in the 1960s. The fact all were male – apart from one female, thought to have been a visitor, nun or patron, and two juveniles, who may have been novices – left little doubt this was a monastic graveyard.
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Monday, 28 November 2016

Altar of Miracle-Making Viking King Discovered in Norway

Archaeologists uncovered the foundations of a wooden church where the body of the Viking king Olaf Haraldsson may have been enshrined after he was declared a saint.
Credit: Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU);
Distributed Under a Creative Commons License

The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) announced Nov. 11 that its researchers had discovered the foundations of a wooden church where the body of King Olaf Haraldsson was taken immediately after he was declared a saint in 1031. St. Olaf, as he is now known, conquered and consolidated Norway in 1016 but held on to rule for a little more than a decade before his power was threatened by Canute I, king of Denmark and England. Olaf died in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.
Now, archaeologists say they've found a key location in the king's posthumous journey from martyr to Norway's patron saint. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

York to reopen Vikings of Jorvik attraction 16 months after floods


The December 2015 floods that forced the Vikings of Jorvik attraction to close. 
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

It’s almost a year since Sarah Maltby, sat comfortably at home on her sofa in the sleepy days after Christmas, got a phone call to warn her that the Vikings of Jorvik were up to their waists in water.
“The first I knew of it was a call from the staff on duty saying the centre was open, there were visitors inside, but water was starting to pour in and what should they do,” the director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust said. “There was only one answer. Get the visitors out and close immediately.”
Jorvik, the unique visitor attraction under the streets of York and built on an archaeology site that revealed the real everyday lives of its Viking residents, has been closed ever since. It has only just announced a reopening date in April 2017.
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Friday, 11 November 2016

Why did Greenland’s Vikings disappear?


In 1721, missionary Hans Egede sailed a ship called The Hope from Norway to Greenland, seeking Norse farmers whom Europeans hadn't heard from in 200 years in order to convert them to Protestantism. He explored iceberg-dotted fjords that gave way to gentle valleys, and silver lakes that shimmered below the massive ice cap. But when he asked the Inuit hunters he met about the Norse, they showed him crumbling stone church walls: the only remnants of 500 years of occupation. "What has been the fate of so many human beings, so long cut off from all intercourse with the more civilized world?" Egede wrote in an account of the journey. "Were they destroyed by an invasion of the natives … [or] perished by the inclemency of the climate, and the sterility of the soil?"

Archaeologists still wonder today. No chapter of Arctic history is more mysterious than the disappearance of these Norse settlements sometime in the 15th century. Theories for the colony's failure have included everything from sinister Basque pirates to the Black Plague. But historians have usually pinned most responsibility on the Norse themselves, arguing that they failed to adapt to a changing climate. The Norse settled Greenland from Iceland during a warm period around 1000 C.E. But even as a chilly era called the Little Ice Age set in, the story goes, they clung to raising livestock and church-building while squandering natural resources like soil and timber. Meanwhile, the seal-hunting, whale-eating Inuit survived in the very same environment.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Archaeologists discover a Viking toolbox



ScienceNordic journalist Charlotte Price Persson, became an archaeologist for the day as she helped excavate a 1,000 year-old Viking toolbox. She how she did in the video above. 
(Video: Kirstine Jacobsen, ScienceNordic)


It might sound incredulous, but the small lump of soil pictured above represents one of the most sensational discoveries made at Denmark’s fifth Viking ring fortress: Borgring.

The lump of soil was removed from the area around one of the fortress’ four gates and it contains the remains of a collection of tools, which probably once lay inside a Viking toolbox.

The toolbox is the first direct indication that people have lived in the fortress. There have been only a handful of similar discoveries around the world.

ScienceNordic was allowed to help archaeologist Nanna Holm excavate the toolbox as it was opened for the first time in 1,000 years.

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Monday, 7 November 2016

Danish archaeologist discovers new Viking fighting style


Shields were apparently used for much more than just protection

The famous round Viking shield may have been more useful than previously thought 
(photo: Wolfgang Sauber)

Danish archaeologist Rolf Warming has been working to discover the fighting skills that Vikings in all probability must have used during battle.

Warming’s research revealed that along with using their shields to defend themselves against attacks, the shields were also an active part of fighting.


“It turns out that the Vikings may have used their shields much more actively than previously thought,” Warming told Vindenskab.dk.

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Archaeologists Discover Viking Toolbox


The toolbox before Nanna Holm began to dig [Credit: Stine Jacobsen, Videnskab.dk]

The lump of soil was removed from the area around one of the fortress’ four gates and it contains the remains of a collection of tools, which probably once lay inside a Viking toolbox.

The toolbox is the first direct indication that people have lived in the fortress. There have been only a handful of similar discoveries around the world.

ScienceNordic was allowed to help archaeologist Nanna Holm excavate the toolbox as it was opened for the first time in 1,000 years.

Tools scanned at the hospital

The exciting find first came to the attention of Holm and her colleagues when a couple of amateur archaeologists with metal detectors found a signal near to the fortress’ east gate.

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Viking raiders were only trying to win their future wives' hearts

Viking raiders were proving their masculinity to try to win women's hearts  CREDIT:AFP/GETTY IMAGES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

When the Vikings landed at the holy island of Lindisfarne in 793AD, it marked the beginning of hundreds of years of terrifying raids, which would earn the Norsemen a fearsome reputation as murderers and pillagers throughout Europe.

But the reason why groups took to the seas in the first place continues to divide historians, some blaming over-population in Scandinavia, and others seeing it as a preemptive strike against the seemingly unstoppable march of Christianity.

Now a new theory suggests that the Vikings actually had matters of the heart on their minds.

Dr Mark Collard, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen and currently the Canada Research Chair at the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, along with colleague Ben Raffield and Neil Price, Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University , believes that changes in society had led to a desperate shortage of marriage partners.

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Missing Viking-era rune stone turns up in Sweden


A Viking-era rune stone that went missing for almost two centuries has been found after a Swedish archaeologist stumbled on it almost by chance.
The find took place during installation work of a lightning conductor at Hagby Church, west of the central Swedish university town of Uppsala. It was found underground a few metres from the building.
"We knew that there had been a medieval church there, but didn't know that this rune stone was in that exact location," Emelie Sunding, archaeologist at Uppland Museum, who was present during the construction project to preserve any historic remains discovered, told The Local on Wednesday.
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Viking arrowheads emerge from melting Norwegian glaciers

High up in the mountains, archaeologists are now discovering human traces dating as far back as the Stone age.



The oldest ice in this snowdrift glacier may have formed in the Stone Age. Now the ice is melting, and archaeologists have a golden opportunity to find ancient traces of human activity. 
(Photo: Lasse Biørnstad, forskning.no)

Julian Martinsen bends down and places a tape measure next to a small treasure located between two large rocks. He is the curator and archaeologist in Oppland County and has been  tasked with picking up and packing the artefacts that the team of archaeologists find.
“This is a rare specimen, a bird point,” says Martinsen, as he picks a mysterious arrowhead up off the ground. The arrow has a very special appearance. The point is split in half, like two knife blades facing each other.
According to Martinsen, it stems from the Viking Age, between 900 and 1050 CE. The dating is based on what kinds of arrows and building techniques people used in different time periods.
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Friday, 16 September 2016

New Viking graves discovered in Denmark


A new archaeological excavation in Denmark reveals the remains of graves and buildings that span the Stone Age, Bronze Age, the Vikings, and right up to the Middle Ages.



Archaeologists are busy unearthing the traces of three thousand years of activity at Silkeborg, west Denmark.
Excavations have already revealed pit-houses, which were typically used as workshops during the Viking era, and residential homes in the so-called Trelleborg style (see Fact Box), together with several graves.
At least two of the graves could have accommodated high-status Vikings.
“There’s been activity here at least since the Stone Age,” says one of the archaeologists involved in the dig, Maria Thiemke, from the Silkeborg Museum, Denmark.
“There’s at least 14 houses and five graves from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, right up until the Middle Ages,” says Thiemke.
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Major Archeological Find in Iceland


From the excavation site in Stöðvarfjörður. Photo: Screenshot from Stöð 2
A recent archeological find in Iceland suggests that the country may have been inhabited as early as the year 800, or 74 years earlier than its official settlement date, Vísir reports. Four weeks of excavation in Stöðvarfjörður, the East Fjords, under the direction of archeologist Bjarni F. Einarsson, have revealed some of the most interesting signs of human presence found i the country. They suggest a longhouse was built there shortly after 800, but until now, Iceland’s first permanent Nordic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, is said to have arrived in 874.
“The C-14 dating method shows a date shortly after the year 800,” Bjarni explained. “I have no reason to doubt that analysis.”
Signs of human presence from a similar time have been discovered before in Kvosin, Reykjavík, in Hafnir, Reyjanes, and in Húshólmi by Krýsuvík.
“We’ve started detecting a longhouse-shaped structure with thick floor layers,” Bjarni stated. The long-fire is missing, but a fireplace is coming into view by one of the gables, by the wall.
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Monday, 12 September 2016

Ancient Viking warrior blade unearthed by Icelandic goose hunters


© The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland

Hunters tracking geese in the wilds of southern Iceland have returned with an unexpected catch - an incredibly well-preserved 1,000 year old Viking sword.

The group of hunters fortuitously stumbled upon the weapon in Skaftárhreppur, south Iceland, a region badly hit by floods last year.

Pictures of the Viking weapon of war - a double edged sword - show it to be in remarkably good condition, save for the tip which has broken off.

The sword is slightly curved at the point and due to years of exposure the metal blade has partially corroded. But despite years out in the open, splinters of wood can still be observed around the handle.

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Tenth century Viking sword discovered in Iceland


A few friends hunting for geese accidentally discovered an impressive Viking sword this weekend which they handed over to the Cultural Heritage Centre of Iceland. 

The sword was found in Hrífunes, South Iceland. 

Only 20 such swords have been found in Iceland and this one is in a very good condition. 

Experts believe it dates from between 900 - 1000 AD and that it was placed in a pagan grave. 

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mighty Viking Ax Discovered in Tomb of Medieval 'Power Couple'


One of the largest Dane axes ever found, recovered by archaeologists from a 10th-century Viking tomb near Silkeborg in central Denmark.
Credit: Silkeborg Museum

Archaeologists have discovered one of the largest Viking axes ever found, in the tomb of a 10th-century "power couple" in Denmark.
Kirsten Nellemann Nielsen, an archaeologist at the Silkeborg Museum who is leading excavations at the site near the town of Haarup, said Danish axes like the one found in the tomb were the most feared weapons of the Viking Age.
"It's a bit extraordinary — it's much bigger and heavier than the other axes. It would have had a very long handle, and it took both hands to use it," Nielsen told Live Science. [See Photos of the 10th-Century Viking Tomb]
The simplicity of the mighty ax, without any decorations or inscriptions, suggests this fearsome weapon was not just for show. "It's not very luxurious," she said.  
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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Vikings abused and beheaded their slaves

This double grave from the Viking era at Grimsta in south-eastern Sweden was exhumed in 1974. It contained skeletons of two persons who had been decapitated. One of the skulls lies at the foot end at the left of the picture. Many experts think these two buried here were slaves.(Photo: Ove Hemmendorf, 1974/Swedish National Heritage Board)

The Vikings in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland had slaves, or thralls. These thralls probably held multiple roles, serving their masters in many ways in Viking society a thousand years ago. 
They could also be given the ultimate rough assignment when important Vikings died.
Some followed their masters into the grave.
Few contemporary descriptions of Viking burials exist. But the Arab explorer Ibn Fadlān witnessed one such ritual when a Viking chieftain died.  Fadlān had met the Eastern Vikings, also called Rūsiyyah, in what is now Russia:
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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Danish Viking grave reveals archaeological mysteries


New excavations in Scandinavia’s first city, Ribe, suggests rapid change at the end of the 9th century.


An excavation of burial grounds in Scandinavia’s first city, the Viking town of Ribe in Denmark, raises more questions than it answers. Why did the town suddenly start to build on top of the graveyard, and was it related to the fall of the Danish monarchy? 
(Photo: Museum of Southwest Jutland)

From the beginning of the 8th century up until the end of the 9th century, Viking graves in the town of Ribe in Denmark were largely reserved for the most holy of citizens. Ribe is considered the first city in Scandinavia and it developed into an important trade city. Graves were afforded a special place in the city--and left undisturbed as the town expanded around them.
But by the end of the 9th century something changed.
“While the marketplace expanded, they suddenly started to build on top of these graves. In some cases they built almost ostentatiously right on top of a grave, which was probably visible and marked,” says archaeologist and excavation leader Søren Sindbæk from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.
“Previously, people thought that Ribe had stopped developing as a city by the 900s, but the results of our grave excavations now suggest that this could be completely wrong. I think something dramatic happened,” says Sindbæk.
The excavations suggest that simultaneous with the construction above the graves, someone also built a fortress and a 700 metres long and 20 metres wide moat around the city.
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Monday, 4 July 2016

Danes to build new Viking museum in Oslo


    The firm’s circular design ‘Naust’ was chosen for the building on the Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo, it was announced on Friday.
     
    “This contribution provides a very good solution to a complicated task,” Synnøve Lyssand Sandberg of the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property (Statsbygg) said. 
     
    “The building has good functionality for the public. Those who want a short visit will be able to get a good overview and an experience of ships and collection. At the same time there will be ample opportunity for further study and exploration,” she added. 
     
    The existing Viking Ship Building from 1926 will be incorporated into the new circular design. 

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    Friday, 1 July 2016

    Danish cops now on a 1,000-year-old case


    Archaeologists involve the police after surmising that a fire at a 1,000-year-old castle was deliberately set

    Archaeologists have found what they call “clear evidence” that a fire at the recently discovered 1,000-year-old Viking castle Vallø Borgring near Køge was deliberately set.
    So they have asked police to supply a fire safety investigator to help them unearth clues to solve the 1,000-year mystery. The fire was set at the fortress’s eastern and northern gates.
    “All indications are that there has been a fire set at the gates of the castle,” archaeologist Jens Ulriksen, who is leading the excavation of the fortress, told DR Nyheder. “The outer posts of the east gate are completely charred, and there are signs of burning on the inside.”
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    1,400-Year Old Sledge Thawed Out of Norwegian Glacier


    In the most recent issue of theJournal of Glacial Archaeology (JGA), a team of Norwegian scientists from the Hordaland County Council and University Museum of Bergen announced their discovery of a prehistoric sledge freed from the ice.  The discovery, announced in the 2015 article, followed significant melting of the Vossaskavlen Glacier in western Norway.
    A team of Norwegian surveyors discovered the artifact, after they spotted what appeared to be poles marking a route over the glacier, approximately 50 meters from the ice edge at an altitude of 1500 meters.  Upon further examination, the team of archaeologists found 21 wooden fragments with signs of craftsmanship.
    Radiocarbon dating puts the age of the pine wood sledge fragments between 545-655 AD, or to the beginning of the Late Iron Age. This makes it the oldest sledge ever found in Norway.

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    Monday, 27 June 2016

    THE DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY 2016 WILL BE HELD ON FRIDAY 29 JULY!




    We are looking for people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate with us in a “Day of Archaeology” in July 2016. The resulting Day of Archaeology website will demonstrate the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and help to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world. We want anyone with a personal, professional or voluntary interest in archaeology to get involved, and help show the world why archaeology is vital to protect the past and inform our futures.

    Explore posts from previous years here...

    Unique Viking tomb contains remains of noble couple


    A Viking tomb in Denmark contains the rare remains of two men and a woman and offers more evidence of an international Viking culture.

    A tomb discovered as part of a large Viking burial ground in south west Denmark contains the remains of a Viking noble or at least a highly distinguished person.
    The grave was discovered in 2012 when engineers were building a highway, and it has since been identified as a unique Viking tomb known as a ‘dødehus’ [death house].  The building measures four by thirteen metres and contained three graves dating back to 950 CE.
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    Tuesday, 21 June 2016

    After 1,000 years, ‘forgotten’ Danish Viking fortress opens

    The 'forgotten' Viking fortress is one of five in Denmark. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix

    The historic discovery two years ago of a fifth Viking ring fortress was celebrated in grand style on Monday.

    After lying forgotten for over 1,000 years, archaeologists uncovered a circular Viking fortress just west of the Zealand town of Køge in a find that shook up popular knowledge of the Viking Age
     
    Researchers had long assumed that the four previously discovered Viking fortresses were all that remained in Denmark and the September 2014 find was the first of its kind in 60 years. 
     
    On Monday, Queen Margrethe officially unveiled the fortress, dubbed Borgring. It opens to the general public on Wednesday, June 1st and is expected to draw upwards of 30,000 visitors per year. 

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    Largest-ever Viking gold collection found in Denmark



    Six gold bracelets and a silver one represent the largest-ever Viking treasure trove uncovered in Denmark. Photo: Nick Schaadt, Museet på Sønderskov

    Three amateur archaeologists have uncovered the largest ever trove of Viking gold in Denmark.



    The three archaeologists, who call themselves Team Rainbow Power, found seven bracelets from the Viking Age in a field in Vejen Municipality in Jutland. The bracelets, six gold and one silver, date to around the year 900. 
    With a combined weight of around 900 grammes, the find is the largest ever discovery of Viking gold in Denmark. 
    Team Rainbow Power member Marie Aagaard Larsen said that she had only been on the field for around ten minutes before striking gold – literally. 

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    Monday, 20 June 2016

    Viking Gold Hoard Discovered In Denmark


    Denmark's main museum says amateur archaeologists have found seven bracelets - one of silver and six of gold - which are considered to be the largest Viking-era gold find in Denmark.
    Viking Gold Treasure found at Vejen in 2016 [Credit: Museum of Sønderskov/Nick Schadt]

    National Museum of Denmark spokesman Peter Pentz says finding one "is huge but it is something special to find seven."

    Pentz says the bracelets weighing a total of almost one kilogram (2.2. pounds) were discovered last week near Vejen in western Denmark by people using metal detectors.

    He said in a statement Thursday the bracelets could have been used by a Viking chieftain to reward faithful followers. They likely were part of a treasure that includes a gold chain found in the same field in 1911.


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    Thursday, 16 June 2016

    Viking Gold Hoard at the End of the Rainbow


    It really feels as if we found  gold at the end of the rainbow, tells one of the amateur archaeologists, who last week found the largest treasure of Viking gold ever discovered in Denmark

    Last week three amateur archaeologists found seven bangles from the 10thcentury in a field near Vejen in Jutland. The amazing thing is that six of the seven are made of gold, while the last is of silver.
    – When we discovered the first ring, we really felt that we had found the gold at the end of the rainbow. And then more surfaced; it was almost unreal, says Marie Aagaard Larsen, who together with her husband Christian Nedergaard Dreiøe and their common friend Poul Nørgaard Pedersen is one of the three happy finders.

    It took only about ten minutes to find the first three bangles; afterwards a phot was sent quickly to the local museum in Sønderskov where the curator was quick to secure the place.


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    Monday, 13 June 2016

    Body in well confirms Viking Saga

    Archeologists from NIKUnorway working in the well. 
    Image: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

    Archaeologists working in Trondheim in Norway are amazed by the discovery of a human skeleton in the bottom of an abandoned castle well. The skeleton provides evidence that confirms dramatic historical events mentioned in the Sagas.
    The location and contents of the well are mentioned in Sverre’s Saga, a chronicle of one of the kings of Norway, and one of very few historical manuscripts describing events in the Norwegian Viking age and medieval period.
    Scholars have questioned the chronicle’s trustworthiness as a historical document. But now, at least one part of the saga seems to hold truth – down to the tiniest detail.
    This is truly astonishing. As far as I know there is no known example of the discovery of an individual historically connected with an act of war as far back as the year 1197. And the fact that this actually corroborates an event described in Sverre’s saga is simply amazing“, says lead archaeologist at the site, Anna Petersén.
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    Sunday, 29 May 2016

    New Lead in the Search for Elusive Norse Settlements

    Wayne MacIsaac stands near what he believes may be the remnants of a Norse fortification wall. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)

    CODROY VALLEY, Canada–A story passed down in my family for generations may be the clue to finding a lost Norse settlement.
    The only Norse settlement in the New World thus far confirmed by archaeologists is in L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland, Canada. But the Norse sagas tell of other colonizing expeditions.
    Last summer, archaeologists announced that they had found evidence of a Norse presence–a hearth used for roasting bog iron ore, which is the first step in the production of iron–at Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland. My uncle, Wayne MacIsaac, was so excited he said he didn’t sleep for three days. He felt vindicated in his long-cherished, but long-ignored, theory that he had found an ancient Norse site in the nearby Codroy Valley where he lives.
    His previous attempts to attract the interest of archaeologists to the site had met with failure, but that has now changed. An international team of archaeologists are due to investigate in July.
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    Wednesday, 11 May 2016

    Viking 'parliament' site uncovered on Scottish island


    IT is an ancient meeting place where Vikings would gather to decide laws, settle disputes and make key political decisions.
    Now archaeologists believe they have identified one of the Norse parliament sites – known as a ‘thing’ - on the island of Bute, which points to it being the headquarters of the powerful Norse King, Ketill Flatnose, whose descendants were the earliest settlers on Iceland.
    The significance of the mound site at Cnoc An Rath, which has been listed as an important archaeological monument since the 1950s, has been unclear for decades. Some had suggested it could have been prehistoric or a medieval farm site.
    However, the idea of the location being a Viking site had been raised through a recent study of place-names on the island, which suggested long-lost names in the area may have contained the Norse word ‘thing’.
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    Wednesday, 4 May 2016

    Meta-Vikings: Runestone Long Thought to Honor Kings Actually Monument to Writing Itself

    This is Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rök Runestone. 
    Photo: University of Gothenburg

    The Rök Runestone was carved in Sweden in the late 800s. Since it was discovered in the 1940s, interpretations of the writing honed in on supposed references to heroic journeys, battles and warrior-kings.
    But a new interpretation says the Runestone is in fact referencing itself – and the power of writing, according to a new study.
    “The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so-called futhark,” said Per Holmberg, associate profess of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenberg.
    The three-part “arc” of the stone concerns the daylight needed to write and read the stone, the carving of the stone itself, and the legacy that is produced by the writing, according to the paper, published in Futhark: The International Journal of Runic Studies.
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    New Interpretation Of The Rok Runestone Inscription Changes View Of Viking Age

    Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rok Runestone 
    [Credit: University of Gothenburg]

    The Rok Runestone, erected in the late 800s in the Swedish province of Ostergotland, is the world's most well-known runestone. Its long inscription has seemed impossible to understand, despite the fact that it is relatively easy to read. A new interpretation of the inscription has now been presented -- an interpretation that breaks completely with a century-old interpretative tradition. What has previously been understood as references to heroic feats, kings and wars in fact seems to refer to the monument itself.

    'The inscription on the Rok Runestone is not as hard to understand as previously thought,' says Per Holmberg, associate professor of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenburg. 'The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so called futhark.'

    Previous research has treated the Rok Runestone as a unique runestone that gives accounts of long forgotten acts of heroism. This understanding has sparked speculations about how Varin, who made the inscriptions on the stone, was related to Gothic kings. In his research, Holmberg shows that the Rok Runestone can be understood as more similar to other runestones from the Viking Age. In most cases, runestone inscriptions say something about themselves.

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    Thursday, 28 April 2016

    All aboard! Nordic Viking ship ready for Atlantic voyage


    The world's largest Viking ship in modern times is about to set sail across the Atlantic.
    Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century, the ship's Swedish captain Björn Ahlander was originally supposed to have ordered the great dragon vessel to weigh anchor from Avaldsnes in Norway's Haugesund on Sunday, but the departure was delayed by bad weather.
    And time is of the essence. Following in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson, the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship has a long journey ahead, taking a route via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland before it finally drops anchor in the United States.
    "We've got one month because the only gap, if you don't want to battle low pressure and harsh winds, is May. That's your chance to make it across," Ahlander told the Swedish news agency TT on Monday.
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    The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns


    The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns

    Tuesday 3 May 2016, 5.30PM

    Speaker: Julian Richards


    From AD 865 to 879 a Viking army wreaked havoc on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, leading to political conquest, settlement on a substantial scale, and extensive Scandinavian cultural and linguistic influences in eastern and northern England. This critical period for English history led to revolutionary changes in land ownership, society, and economy, including the growth of towns and industry, while transformations in power politics would ultimately see the rise of Wessex as the pre-eminent kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England. 

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    Sunday, 24 April 2016

    Did volcano eruptions tip Europe into Dark Ages?


    Back-to-back volcanic eruptions in the mid-6th century darkened Europe's skies for more than a year and may have ushered in the Dark Ages, according to finding to be presented Friday at a science conference in Vienna.
    "Either would have led to significant cooling of Earth's surface," said Matthew Toohey, a climate modeller at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel Germany who led the research.
    "But taken together, the two eruptions"—in 536 and 540—"were likely the most powerful volcanic event affecting the northern hemisphere climate over at least the past 1,500 years," he told AFP at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union.
    Their combined impact lowered temperatures by two degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during what is probably the coldest decade in the last two millennia, he added.
    This sudden drop, caused by a Sun-blocking blanket of sulphur particles in the stratosphere, had a devastating impact on agriculture, provoking famine throughout much of Europe and beyond.
    Read the rest of this article...

    Friday, 22 April 2016

    Searching for the Vikings: 3 Sites Possibly Found in Canada


    Another possible Viking site, located at a place called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, was discovered using satellite imagery. 

    Three archaeological sites that may have been used by Vikings around 1,000 years ago were excavated recently in Canada.

    If confirmed, the discoveries would add to the single known Viking settlement in the New World, located at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Excavated in the 1960s, that Viking outpost was used for a short period of time around 1,000 years agoas well.

    Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland. [See Photos of the Newfound Viking Sites]

    Even so, pinpointing actual Viking remains or other clues of Viking settlements has been difficult, making the three sites — two in Newfoundland and the other in the Arctic — intriguing to archaeologists.

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    Monday, 18 April 2016

    'Woman in Blue' sheds light on Iceland’s first settlers


    Iceland’s “woman in blue,” the partial skeleton of a young woman found in 1938 in a grave with Viking-era objects, was a child of some of the island’s earliest settlers, researchers reported April 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Tooth development and wear suggest she was between 17 and 25 years old when she died.



    A female’s jaw dating to the early 900s, with some flesh still attached, floats  in a jar filled with light paraffin oil. The jaw belonged to one of Iceland’s earliest  colonizers, known as the “woman in blue” for her indigo-dyed apron
    [Credit: Ivar Brynjólfsson/The National Museum of Iceland]

    It’s not known if the woman was a Viking or if she came from another northern European population, said bioarchaeologist Tina Jakob of Durham University in England. A chemical analysis of one of her teeth indicates that, between ages 5 and 10, she started eating a lot of fish and other seafood for the first time after having previously consumed mainly plants and land animals, a team led by Jakob and Joe Walser III of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik found.

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    Monday, 11 April 2016

    Viking Treasures seen for the first time in a thousand years

    More than ten centuries after being buried in a field in Galloway, conservators are releasing images that reveal the contents of a pot of Viking treasure for the first time.


    Although the objects are not currently on  display, a series of images will give the public a chance to see the Viking treasure for the first time, following a painstaking conservation project to remove and conserve the rare items, which date from 9th-10th centuries AD.
    The project is being funded by Historic Environment Scotland, working in partnership with the Treasure Trove Unit, and the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR).

    The cache of objects were, until recently, contained in a ‘Carolingian’ (West European) vessel, or pot, which was part of a wider hoard, amounting to around a hundred items, which includes a large number of silver ingots and armrings, a beautifully-preserved cross, and an ornate gold pin in the likeness of a bird. 


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