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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.”

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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!”

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

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.
Read the rest of this article...

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.

Read the rest of this article...

Girl dubbed 'Queen of Sweden' after drawing ancient sword from lake


Experts have described the discovery of the 1,500 year old relic as spectacular, saying that it was "about 85 centimeters long, and there is also preserved wood and metal around it."

(CNN)An eight-year-old girl has discovered a pre-Viking-era sword in a Swedish lake, prompting locals to name her the "Queen of Sweden."

Swedish-American Saga Vanecek found the ancient artifact while playing in Vidöstern lake during the summer near her family's holiday home in the south of the country.
Experts at a local museum estimate the sword to be around 1,500 years old, according to local reports.

"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," Vanecek told The Local, a Swedish news website.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Playing Viking Chess with Whale Bones

Researchers discovered hnefatafl game pieces made of whale bone in upper- and middle-class Vendel graves. Photo by Rudolf Gustavsson

Game pieces made of whale bone may be evidence of the emergence of industrial whaling in ancient Scandinavia.

In central and eastern Sweden from 550 to 793 CE, just before the Viking Age, members of the Vendel culture were known for their fondness for boat burials, their wars, and their deep abiding love of hnefatafl.

Also known as Viking chess, hnefatafl is a board game in which a centrally located king is attacked from all sides. The game wasn’t exclusive to the Vendels—people across northern Europe faced off over the gridded board from at least 400 BCE until the 18th century. But during the Vendel period, love for the game was so great that some people literally took it to their graves. Now, a new analysis of some hnefatafl game pieces unearthed in Vendel burial sites offers unexpected insight into the possible emergence of industrial whaling in northern Europe.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Thousands of objects discovered in Scandinavia’s first Viking city

Danish archaeologists have excavated the streets beneath Ribe to discover how the first city of the Viking age was established.

The bead-makers of 8th century Ribe used pieces of glass gathered from old Roman mosaics as their raw material. They didn’t have access to newly manufactured glass. This is one of the many details that tells us about the city’s network. 
(Photo: Museum of Southwest Jutland)

If you want to know anything about the Viking Age, Ribe, in west Denmark, is the place to go.
Archaeologists from Aarhus University and Southwest Jutland Museums (Denmark) have been excavating the Viking city as part of the Northern Emporium Project in minute detail.
We have dug down to three metres, where we find traces of the first cities of the Nordic region.
Thousands of items discovered beneath the streets of Ribe
Deep beneath street level are thousands of Viking finds. We have discovered everything from beads, amulets, coins, and lost combs, to dog excrement and gnawed bones.
We have also been surprised on several occasions, such as when we discovered a piece of a lyre (a harp-like stringed instrument), complete with tuning pegs. This discovery alone gives the Viking trading city of Ribe a whole new soundtrack.
Read the rest of this article...

Friday, 27 July 2018

Archaeological Find Near Reykjavík

The archaeological site. Photo/Ragnheiður Traustadóttir

A team of Icelandic archaeologists has discovered occupation layers, dating back to the settlement of Iceland in the ninth century until the beginning of the 14th century, on Mosfell hill in Mosfellsdalur valley, just east of Reykjavík. The discovery is believed to be able to shed light on the history of the Middle Ages in the area.

Work on a new parking lot by Mosfellskirkja church was halted by the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland in April, and subsequent archaeological research revealed the layers. The agency decides this week whether excavations are to be continued. Only part of the site was damaged when work on the parking lot was in progress, according to archaeologist Ragnheiður Traustadóttir. The site seems to have been affected more in 1960, when a minister’s residence was built on the lot. Two areas are under investigation, one north of road leading up to the church, and the other east of the current parking lot.

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

How to decorate like a Viking

Grand Designs, Viking edition. A new report recreates some of the colours used by Vikings to decorate their houses, including ochre and charcoal pigments. (Photo: Sagnlandet Lejre)

To begin with you will need a handy Viking paint chart. Luckily, archaeologists in Denmark have just made one.
Green is the colour of hope, white symbolises surrender or innocence, and black binds the living to the dead.

Colour has always carried meaning for people, including the Vikings, for whom it symbolised power and wealth.

But what colours did the Vikings use?

Archaeologists and chemists have now studied colour use in the Viking Age based on the chemical analyses of pigments from a number of objects and a review of existing information on the topic.

These colours are now available to all in the form of a colour palette: A Viking paint chart.

Read the rest of this article...

DNA study reveals fate of Irish women taken by Vikings as slaves to Iceland

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough, a reconstructed Viking ship [Credit: Eric Luke]

The mapping of DNA from some of the settlers who colonised Iceland more than 1,000 years ago offers an insight into the fate of thousands of slaves – mostly women – who were taken by Norse Vikings from Ireland and Scotland before they put down roots on the North Atlantic island.

Anthropologist Sunna Ebenesersdóttir, of the University of Iceland and the company deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, analysed the genomes of 25 ancient Icelanders whose skeletal remains were found in burial sites across the island.

Sequencing using samples from teeth revealed the settlers had a roughly even split of Norse (from what are today Norway and Sweden) and Gaelic ancestry. It is the first in-depth investigation of how a new population is formed through a genetic process known as “admixture”.

When the researchers compared the ancient genomes to those of modern people in Iceland and other European countries, they found contemporary Icelanders, on average, draw about 70 per cent of their genes from Norse ancestry.

This suggests that in the 1,100 years between settlement and today, the population underwent a surprisingly quick genetic shift in favour of Norse genes, the researchers report in the journal Science.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 18 June 2018

Large-scale whaling in north Scandinavia may date back to 6th century

Top: a board-game piece made from whalebone at the end of the 6th century CE, found in Gnistahögen near Uppsala, Sweden (photograph by Bengt Backlund, Uppland County Museum). Bottom: the bone structure of the gaming piece compared with reference bone from minke whale (photograph by Rudolf Gustavsson, Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis, SAU) [Credit: Bengt Backlund/Rudolf Gustavsson]

Museum collections in Sweden contain thousands of Iron Age board-game pieces. New studies of the raw material composing them show that most were made of whalebone from the mid-6th century CE. They were produced in large volumes and standardised forms. The researchers therefore believe that a regular supply of whalebone was needed. Since the producers would hardly have found the carcasses of beached whales a reliable source, the gaming pieces are interpreted as evidence for whaling.

Apart from an osteological survey, species origin has been determined for a small number of game pieces, using ZooMS (short for Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometer). The method shows that all the pieces analysed were derived from the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), a massive whale weighing 50-80 tonnes. It got the name because it was the right whale to hunt: it swam slowly, close to shore, and contained so much blubber as to float after being killed.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Viking houses from 1070 found in Cork dig at former Beamish & Crawford brewery


Excavations at a former brewery in Cork have uncovered the foundations of 19 wooden Viking age houses from the 11th and 12th centuries.

Some of the structures date back to 1070, making them 30 years older than any housing previously excavated in the city.

The dig at the former Beamish & Crawford factory also found three stone walls and a doorway from St Laurence’s Church, dating back to the 13th century.

Cork’s urban layout as a Viking city dates from around the same time that Waterford began developing as a Viking city, but archaeologists have yet to find any evidence on Leeside comparable to a trading post established near Waterford in the ninth century, archaeologists have found.

Read the rest of this article...

Iceland’s founding fathers underwent a rapid, 1000-year genetic shift


Scientists analyzed the ancient genes of skeletons belonging to some of Iceland’s first settlers, like this one discovered in a grave near the island’s northern coast. 
IVAR BRYNJOLFSSON/THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ICELAND


If modern Icelanders came face-to-face with their founding fathers, they’d be hard-pressed to see much family resemblance, according to a new study. That’s because today’s Icelanders have a much higher proportion of Scandinavian genes than their distant ancestors did, suggesting the islanders underwent a remarkably rapid genetic shift over the past thousand years.

Previous studies have hinted as much based on inferences from modern genotypes, notes Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who wasn’t involved in the work. But the new findings offer a rare, direct glimpse of the founding of a new people. “I don’t think this has been shown before in any human population.”

Medieval histories suggest Iceland was first settled between 870 C.E. and 930 C.E. by seafaring Vikings and the people they enslaved, who possessed a mélange of genes from what is now Norway and the British Isles. For the next thousand years, the population of Iceland remained relatively small and isolated, hovering between about 10,000 and 50,000. Impeccable genealogical records and broad genetic sampling have made Icelanders—who now number 330,000—a model population for geneticists hoping to connect the dots between gene variants and traits.

Read the rest of this article...

The Genes From Iceland's First Settlers Reveal The Origin Of Their Population In Detail

Skeletal remains of an ancient pre-Christian (<1000 c.e.="" female="" font="" icelandic="" nbsp="">
[Credit: Ivar Brynjolfsson/The National Museum of Iceland]

In just over 1,000 years, Icelanders have gone through numerous changes in their gene pool, to the extent that Iceland's first settlers, who came to the island from Norway and the British and Irish isles between the years 870 and 930, are much more similar to the inhabitants of their original home countries than to Iceland's present-day inhabitants.

This is one of the main conclusions of a study carried out by an international team of scientists which included members of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). For the first time, the researchers, whose results are published in the journal Science, analysed the ancient genomes of 25 individuals who lived in Iceland during the colonisation of the island.

With a population of 330,000, Iceland is a country with its own peculiarities. Genes are no exception: isolation and inbreeding throughout its history make this northern Atlantic island a paradise for genetic studies.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists uncover 'treasure trove' of artefacts at Pictish fort

A pin decorated with a bramble is among items discovered at the Pictish fort
UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN

A "treasure trove" of Pictish artefacts has been discovered in the remains of an ancient fort on the Moray coast.

The building near Burghhead is believed to have been destroyed by fire in the 10th century as the Vikings invaded.

It spelled the end of Pictish life in the area but the blaze preserved material that would normally have rotted away hundreds of years ago.

As well as a complex layer of oak planks in a wall, archaeologists have uncovered jewellery and animal bones.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Swedish Archaeologists Uncover Brutal 5th-Century Massacre


Excavations from an Iron Age fort in modern-day Sweden revealed brutalized human remains and other macabre traces of a massacre that stopped a small Scandinavian community in its tracks some 1,500 years ago.

Six years after the archaeological investigations began, the team has published a report of their findings in the journal Antiquity. Although only 6 percent of the site has been unearthed and analyzed, the evidence gathered thus far paints an unprecedently vivid picture of life – and death – in late 5th-century Europe, a turbulent period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Located on the island of Öland off the coast of southeast Sweden, the Sandby Borg ringfort resembled a large oval-shaped mound of grass and dirt encircled by crumbling stone before the archaeologists arrived. Hoping to preserve the contents of the site from recently spotted treasure hunters, the team slowly but surely revealed that the unassuming ruins belonged to a 5,000-square-meter (54,000-square-foot) village, containing 53 dwellings, enclosed by stone walls that once stood 4-5 meters (13-16 feet) high.

Read the rest of this article...

Swedish archaeologists reveal 5th Century massacre at Sandby borg

Team member Clara Alfsdotter arranges the remains of one victim

Swedish archaeologists have found evidence of a 5th century massacre on the south-eastern island of Oland.

In a paper published in the journal Antiquity, the team writes about the 1,500 year old attack at Sandby borg.

Dozens of corpses have been found in the walled fort, their bodies left to rot where they fell.

All of the victims were killed with "brutal force", team leader Helena Victor said. Some victims were found inside houses, others in the streets.

The archaeologists discovered decapitated bodies, blunt force trauma wounds to victims' heads, and even one person who seemed to have fallen into a fireplace in his final moments.

Even the corpse of a newborn was found among the dead, suggesting nobody was spared, the authors say.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 23 April 2018

Skeletons of first Copenhageners discovered under City Hall Square

Secret dig yields startling find (photo: Copenhagen Museum)

Since December, a team of archaeologists from the Museum of Copenhagen have secretly been excavating 20 skeletons discovered under City Hall Square.

The skeletons belong to men, women and children who are believed to have lived around 1,000 years ago, and which archaeologists believe were the first Copenhageners.

“It’s amazing. The graves with the skeletons in good condition are lying just a metre under the asphalt on the busiest square in Denmark,” Jane Jark Jensen, an archaeologist and curator with Copenhagen Museum, told Politiken newspaper.

The archaeologists believe that there are two additional layers of skeletons underneath the layer they are currently excavating.

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists may have found Copenhagen’s oldest church

The City Hall Square excavation site has yielded some interesting results 
(photo: Museum of Copenhagen)

When it emerged in February that a team of archaeologists had been secretly excavating 20 skeletons under City Hall Square, it was believed they belonged to the first Copenhageners who lived some 1,000 years ago.

Now, the archaeologists have discovered the remains of a foundation that they think could stem from the first church in the Danish capital – a find that would help confirm that the Danish capital was an established city earlier than believed.

“If it is a church, it would further prove that Copenhagen was an established city at the start of the Middle Ages,” Lars Ewald Jensen, the archaeological head of the Museum of Copenhagen, told Videnskab.dk.

“You can have a burial site without an established city, because there needs to be more elements present before one can call it a city. But then again, you can’t have a city without having a church.”

Read the rest of this article...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Archaeologists find silver treasure on German Baltic island

The April 13, 2018 photo shows medieval Saxonian, Ottoman, Danish and Byzantine coins after a medieval silver treasure had been found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) (Associated Press)

BERLIN — Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins, rings, pearls and bracelets linked to the era of Danish King Harald Gormsson have been found on the eastern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea.

A single silver coin was first found in January by two amateur archaeologists, one of them a 13-year-old boy, in a field near the village of Schaprode. The state archaeology office then became involved and the entire treasure was uncovered by experts over the weekend, the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office said Monday.

“It’s the biggest trove of such coins in the southeastern Baltic region,” the statement said.

The office said the two amateur archeologists were asked to keep quiet about their discovery to give professionals time to plan the dig and were then invited to participate in the recovery.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Uncovering the Galloway Viking Hoard, layer by layer

A bird brooch from the Galloway Hoard. ®National Museums Scotland

Hold on to your Viking helmet; you’re about to dig, layer by layer, into one of the most extraordinary Viking hoards ever found on the British Isles – the Galloway Hoard – with Dr Martin Goldberg, Senior Curator at National Museums Scotland

The team of metal detectorists had been working this field in Galloway for some time, but what they eventually found was way beyond their expectations.

The top layer contained eleven ingots and eleven silver arm-rings that had been flattened into bullion. They would have been made from the type of ingots they’re buried with. There’s a nice variety of decoration, with lots of punched lines and hatches. This type of arm-ring is normally found in hoards in Ireland and there are some from North Wales and from Lancashire – all around the Irish Sea, but we don’t have a lot of this particular type in Scotland. This hoard completes the circle around the Irish Sea.

They’re called a Hiberno-Scandinavian type of arm-ring and obviously the Scandinavian is the new element added to the cultural mix at the time, but they’re given that Hiberno- prefix because they’re normally found in Ireland. For me it is always the hyphen between these cultural labels where the interesting things are happening.

Read the rest of this article...

Slavs competed with the Vikings on these boats


Specialists from the National Maritime Museum in Tczew began the reconstruction of the 12th-century Slavic boat salvaged from the bottom of the Bay of Puck.

The reconstruction of the Slavic boat dated back to 1158 began at the Shipwreck Conservation Centre in Tczew, a facility of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. The wreck, designated P-3 by the museum workers, has been salvaged from the mud at the bottom of the Bay of Puck.

"This is a pioneering project" - emphasises Jerzy Litwin, director of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. "We have created a special metal basket that allows for precise positioning of individual structural elements" - he says.

This method will allow to recreate the shape and the actual dimensions of the boat. Viking boats are exhibited in a similar way in Scandinavian museums. Nobody has attempted such a reconstruction in Poland until now. Reconstructions of Slavic boats are also rare. Polish museums have only two such exhibits, one of which was reconstructed before the war.

Germans find 'Harald Bluetooth' medieval treasure

Harald Bluetooth might have buried the treasure while fleeing from enemies

Treasure linked to the reign of 10th Century Danish King Harald Bluetooth has been dug up in northern Germany.

An amateur archaeologist and a 13-year-old boy found a silver coin on the Baltic island of Rügen in January when scanning a field with metal detectors.

Experts kept the find secret until a team dug up 400sq metres (4,300sq ft) of land at the weekend.

They found braided necklaces, a Thor's hammer, brooches, rings and about 600 coins, probably buried in the 980s.

"This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic sea region and is therefore of great significance," said lead archaeologist Michael Schirren.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 16 April 2018

Computer simulations show Viking's sunstone to be very accurate

The "Lofotr" viking ship and the smaller "femkeiping". Both recosntructions based on excavations from the Gokstad find. Credit: Geir Are Johansen/Wikipedia

A pair of researchers with ELTE Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary has run computer simulations that suggest that tales of Vikings using a sunstone to navigate in cloudy weather might be true. In their paper published in Royal Society Open Science, Dénes Száz and Gábor Horváth describe the factors that contributed to their simulations and what they found by running them.

For the time period 900 to 1200 AD, Vikings, by nearly all accounts, ruled the northern Atlantic. Their skill in building strong boats and in navigation allowed them to travel throughout the North Atlantic. Prior research has suggested the Vikings used a type of sundial to navigate, which was apparently quite accurate. But what did they do when it was cloudy or foggy? Viking tales passed down through the generations claimed it was through the use of sunstones, which allowed Viking navigators to find the sun even on cloudy days. But proving the tales true has been problematic—no sunstone has ever been found on or near a Viking shipwreck. A crystal was found on a 16th-century English shipwreck in 2002—and English sailors could have learned to use them from the Vikings—but much stronger evidence is needed.

Read the rest of this article...

Boy unearths treasure of the Danish king Bluetooth in Germany

Discovery by a 13-year-old and an amateur archaeologist leads to hoard linked to king who brought Christianity to Denmark

Part of the hoard linked to Bluetooth, the Danish king who reigned from around AD958 to 986. Photograph: Stefan Sauer/AFP/Getty Images

A 13-year-old boy and an amateur archaeologist have unearthed a “significant” trove in Germany which may have belonged to the Danish king Harald Bluetooth who brought Christianity to Denmark.

René Schön and his student Luca Malaschnitschenko were looking for treasure using metal detectors in January on northern Rügen island when they chanced upon what they initially thought was a worthless piece of aluminium.

But upon closer inspection, they realised that it was a piece of silver, German media reported.

Over the weekend, the regional archaeology service began a dig covering 400 sq metres (4,300 sq ft). It has found a hoard believed to be linked to the Danish king Harald Gormsson, better known as “Harry Bluetooth”, who reigned from around AD958 to 986.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

An Icelandic Epic Predicted a Fiery End for Pagan Gods, and Then This Volcano Erupted

The Codex Regius, an Icelandic collection of poems about pagan gods, contains 
a version of the Vǫluspá.
Credit: Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty

A series of Earth-shattering volcanic eruptions in Iceland during the Middle Ages may have spurred the people living there to turn away from their pagan gods and convert to Christianity, a new study finds.

The discovery came about thanks to precise dating of the volcanic eruptions, which spewed lava about two generations before the Icelandic people changed religions.

But why would volcanic eruptions turn people toward monotheism? The answer has to do with the "Vǫluspá," a prominent medieval poem that predicted a fiery eruption would help lead to the downfall of the pagan gods, the researchers said.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 19 March 2018

Viking expert certain Norse seafarers visited Miramichi, Chaleur Bay

Birgitta Wallace, senior archaeologist emerita with Parks Canada, says she believes Vikings had summer camps in New Brunswick's Miramichi and Chaleur Bay area. 
(Contributed/Rob Ferguson)

Did Vikings visit New Brunswick's Miramichi and Chaleur Bay areas? According to the research done by Birgitta Wallace, senior archaeologist emerita with Parks Canada, they did. 

"I'm really convinced that the Vikings did visit that area. Not all my colleagues would agree with me," said the woman who's been studying Vikings for 50 years.

While she is certain the Vikings did spend time in Miramichi and Chaleur Bay, she says she is not hopeful of ever finding anything to prove it.

Wallace said she determined that the second location that Vikings visited in North America, known as "Hóp," meaning "tidal lagoon," was in the Miramichi and Chaleur region after she studied the Vikings sagas. She also drew on her extensive work at L'Anse aux Meadows, located on the very northern tip of Newfoundland. 

Read the rest of this article...

Archaeologists Closer to Finding Lost Viking Settlement

The only known Viking site in North America is located at L'anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. It was declared a World Heritage site.
Credit: WendyCotie/Shutterstock

A lost Viking settlement known as "Hóp," which has been mentioned in sagas passed down over hundreds of years, is said to have supported wild grapes, abundant salmon and inhabitants who made canoes out of animal hides. Now, a prominent archaeologist says the settlement likely resides in northeastern New Brunswick.

If Hóp is found it would be the second Viking settlement to be discovered in North America. The other is at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

Over the decades, scholars have suggested possible locations where the remains of Hóp might be found, including Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick (on the east coast of Canada), Nova Scotia, Maine, New England and New York. However, using the description of the settlement from sagas of Viking voyages, along with archaeological work carried out at L'Anse aux Meadows and at Native American sites along the east coast of North America, an archaeologist has narrowed down the likely location of Hóp to northeastern New Brunswick. The likeliest location there? The Miramichi-Chaleur bay area. 

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday, 8 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

The excavators also found four youngsters aged between eight and 18 buried together in a single grave with a sheep jaw at their feet, which they dated to the same period. At least two showed signs of traumatic injury suggesting they may have been sacrificed in a ritual to accompany the dead.
Bristol archaeologist Cat Jarman said: “The grave is very unusual. I don't know of any examples of four young people buried in a single grave like this from anywhere else in England in this period.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Viking imported finds discovered in cemetery works


EXPANSION WORKS OF BYNESET CEMETERY AT STEINE CHURCH IN TRONDHEIM, NORWAY HAS LED TO THE DISCOVERY OF AN IMPORTED CLASP OR BROOCH DATING FROM THE VIKING ERA.

The find is thought to be a gold-plated silver fitting from a book brought to the area during the Viking age.

Raymond Sauvage from NTNU’s Department of Archaeology and Cultural History, and the project manager for the excavations said “We know that the Vikings went out on raids. They went to Ireland and brought things back”

“You don’t make discoveries like this everywhere. There are only a few areas where people had the resources to go out on such voyages.”

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 5 February 2018

Radiocarbon dating reveals mass grave did date to the Viking age

A team of archaeologists, led by Cat Jarman from the University of Bristol's Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, has discovered that a mass grave uncovered in the 1980s dates to the Viking Age and may have been a burial site of the Viking Great Army war dead.


One of the female skulls from the Repton charnel [Credit: Cat Jarman]

Although the remains were initially thought to be associated with the Vikings, radiocarbon dates seemed to suggest the grave consisted of bones collected over several centuries. New scientific research, published in Antiquity, now shows that this was not the case and that the bones are all consistent with a date in the late 9th century. Historical records state that the Viking Great Army wintered in Repton, Derbyshire, in 873 A.D. and drove the Mercian king into exile.

Excavations led by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle at St Wystan's Church in Repton in the 1970s and 1980s discovered several Viking graves and a charnel deposit of nearly 300 people underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.

The mound appears to have been a burial monument linked to the Great Army.

An Anglo-Saxon building, possibly a royal mausoleum, was cut down and partially ruined, before being turned into a burial chamber.

Read the rest of this article...