Sunday, 2 August 2015

New research on the causes of the Viking Age


The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century. 


The Vale of York Cup - a Christian vessel from northern mainland Europe that was  probably held by Scandinavians for some time after its capture, before finishing  its life as the receptacle for a large silver hoard buried in Yorkshire  [Credit : York Museums Trust] 

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity. 

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage. 

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

New research on the causes of the Viking Age


The Viking hit-and-run raids on monastic communities such as Lindisfarne and Iona were the most infamous result of burgeoning Scandinavian maritime prowess in the closing years of the Eighth Century.

These skirmishes led to more expansive military campaigns, settlement, and ultimately conquest of large swathes of the British Isles. But Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, wanted to explore the social justifications for this spike in aggressive activity.

Previous research has considered environmental, demographic, technological and political drivers, as well as the palpable lure of silver and slave and why these forms of wealth became important at this stage.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The last Viking and his 'magical' sword?


Have you held the sword? Have you felt its weight? Have you felt how sharp and strong the blade is?


 Langeidsverdet helfigur 
[Credit: Ellen C. Holthe, Museum  of Cultural History, University of Oslo]

 A deadly weapon and symbol of power -- jewellery for a man, with magical properties. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior's strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword. 

This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now, when it is being displayed for the first time in the exhibition 'Take It Personally' at the Historical Museum in Oslo. 

The sword must have belonged to a wealthy man in the late Viking Age. But who was he and what magic inscriptions are set into the decoration -- in gold? Was the owner of the sword in the Danish King Canute's army when it attacked England in 1014-15?

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Viking-age hut found in Reykjavik


Archaeologists digging on Lækjargata in central Reykjavik were looking for traces of a farm cottage built in 1799 – and found a Viking longhouse from some 900 years earlier.

The longhouse is at least 20 m long at 5.5m wide at it widest point. The ‘long fire’ in the centre of the hut is one of the largest ever found in Iceland, which visible traces suggesting it was over 5.2 m long.

“This find came as a great surprise for everybody,” says Þor­steinn Bergs­son, Managing Director of Minja­vernd, an independent association working for the preservation of old buildings in Iceland. “This rewrites the history of Reykjavik.”

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

You(r) Archaeology – portraying the past


“You(r) Archaeology – portraying the past” - A European competition to express your view.

What is archaeology? An adventure? A pain in the neck? The appeal of the past, the magic of marvellous sites, the boredom of a dusty museum? Probably all of these together, and still more.

Up until July 31st 2015, all European citizens can answer the question and tell us about their idea of archaeology by entering a drawing, painting, photo or video in the European competition “You(r) Archaeology”.

Further details...

Monday, 29 June 2015

Rare Viking relic discovered at Perthshire dig


ARCHAEOLOGISTS delving into Scottish history believe they have discovered a rare object at a Viking-age longhouse in Perthshire

The small circular stone, with a central hole - thought to be a spindle whorl - was found by Diana McIntyre, who was on a dig with Glenshee Archaelogy Project at Lair in Glenshee.

A spindle whorl, was a weight fitted to a spindle while hand spinning textiles to increase and maintain the speed of the spin.

The stone, which is only around 5cm in diameter, has been carefully shaped to be symmetrical, but what has interested the team are the symbols and designs carved onto one surface.

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Dundee experts recreate face of Saxon man at Lincoln Castle


Facial reconstruction experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of a Saxon man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church at Lincoln Castle.
On Monday 8th June, the new-look castle will be officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal. On that day, a new exhibition will be revealed in the Victorian Prison, sharing some of the archaeological finds unearthed during the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.
As part of the exhibition, experts at the University of Dundee have recreated the face of an Anglo Scandinavian man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church within the castle grounds. The skeleton was one of ten sets of remains discovered.
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Friday, 19 June 2015

1,000-year-old wine pitcher found in Jutland


Ribe’s archaeology never ceases to surprise, and now teams from the University of Aarhus and Sydvestjyske Museum have made yet another unique find during excavations in the city’s oldest burial ground. 


The 1,000-year-old French wine pitcher was found in Ribe during excavations  of the city’s oldest burial ground [Credit: Sydvestjyske Museer] Half a metre underground in a parking lot, wedged between other urns and tombs, they have discovered a perfectly intact French wine pitcher, which is predicted to be around 1,000 years old. 

“It is a unique find,” said Morten Søvsø, the head of archaeology at Sydvestjyske Museum. 

“The pitcher is an example of the finest pottery produced in northern Europe at the time, and it has never been seen before in Denmark. The vessel reveals information about the vast trading network that put Ribe on the map during the Viking era.” 

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British scientists hunt for Viking traces in Norman DNA


British researchers on Monday began collecting the DNA of residents from Normandy in northern France in search of Viking heritage, but the project has raised concerns amongst some local anti-racism activists.
Around a hundred volunteers from the Cotentin Peninsula area are giving DNA samples to academics at the University of Leicester, who are trying to find descendants of the Vikings who invaded what is now Normandy in the 9th century.
The aim is to learn more about "the intensity of the Scandinavian colonisation" in the 9th and 10th centuries in the Cotentin Peninsula, said Richard Jones, a senior history lecturer at the University of Leicester.
That includes trying to find out whether the colonisers kept to themselves or married amongst the locals, he added.
The French volunteers have been chosen because they have surnames that are of Scandinavian origin or that have been present in France since at least the 11th century. They also qualify if all four of their grandparents lived within a 50-kilometre (30-mile) radius of their current home.
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This ancient liquor popular among Vikings may be the answer to antibiotic resistance


Scientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter's Elixir.
Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health.
Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Hunt for Viking DNA among Normandy residents riles anti-racism activists


British scientists searching for evidence of Norse colonisation in the communities of the Cotentin peninsula warn of ‘sensitivities’ over the issue


British researchers on Monday began collecting the DNA of residents from Normandy in northern France in search of Viking heritage, but the project has raised concerns amongst some local anti-racism activists.
Around a hundred volunteers from the Cotentin peninsula area are giving DNA samples to academics at the University of Leicester, who are trying to find descendants of the Vikings who invaded what is now Normandy in the 9th century.
The aim is to learn more about “the intensity of the Scandinavian colonisation” in the 9th and 10th centuries in the Cotentin Peninsula, said Richard Jones, a senior history lecturer at the University of Leicester.
Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Orkney Islanders are 25 percent Norwegian

This is how the populace of the Orkney Islands lived 5,000 years ago. The Stone Age settlement Skara Brae is preserved so well that it is referred to as “Scotland’s Pompeii”. Recently it was discovered that the Orkney Islanders still have a surprising amount of DNA from the people who dwelled there long before the Vikings arrived. (Photo: Georg Mathisen)

They are proud of their Viking ancestors but are not as Norwegian as they might think. The lion’s share of the genes of Orkney Islanders can be traced to the native peoples who lived their several millennia before Norwegians invaded and annexed the islands in the 9th century.
Mapping genes
British and Australian researchers have mapped the genetic structure of today’s Brits. They found that the only place where the Viking inheritance is genetically strong is the Orkney Islands. Orkney were under Norwegian rule for centuries and as a result, 25 percent of Orkney Islanders’ genes can be traced to Norway.
The locals tend to be enthusiastic about their Viking heritage, which has now also been strongly identified in their genes:
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Archaeological find at Norton Bridge turns out to be from Saxon period


RCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered a wooden butter churn lid unearthed at Norton Bridge is from the Saxon period following scientific tests.
Evidence of prehistoric activity was uncovered in the same area of the site and archaeologists believed the butter churn could be from the same period.
But radiocarbon tests have revealed the lid of the butter churn dates from the early medieval period when the area was part of the Mercian kingdom.
The tests have put a fragment of wood found with the lid as dating between AD715-890, so the lid is from the same period as the Staffordshire Hoard.
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The Viking’s grave and the sunken ship


Mapping archaeological digs takes plenty of time and a lot of measuring, photographing, drawing and note taking. Now, most of this work can be done with a technique called photogrammetry. 


Detailed image of a shield boss found in what is likely a Viking’s  grave in Skaun 
[Credit: NTNU University Museum] 

Photogrammetry is a method that uses two-dimensional images of an archaeological find to construct a 3D model. 

You don't need and special glasses or advanced equipment to use make use of this new technique. Together with precise measurements of the excavation, photogrammetry can create a complete detailed map of an archaeological excavation site. 

"This is still a very new technique," say archaeologists Raymond Sauvage and Fredrik Skoglund of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's University Museum. 

Photogrammetry is in many ways much more precise than older, more time-consuming methods.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Fashionable Vikings loved colours, fur, and silk


The year is 873 and Frida is deciding what to wear. Her new red dress is finally ready, as are her freshly polished shell-shaped brooches designed to hold it in place at her shoulders. The dress is the newest cut in Viking fashion.
Of course, we don’t know exactly how such a scenario played out. Nevertheless, to a Viking woman, Frida’s dress in vibrant red with matching brooches could have been hugely popular. In fact, red and blue were among the most popular colours in the Viking Age.
But did the Vikings really have fashion on the mind?
"Yes," says Ulla Mannering from the Centre for Textile Research at the National Museum in Copenhagen.
Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Viking 'forest' language set for Nordic preschool


A rare Nordic language used by a tiny forest community is set to be taught in a preschool in central Sweden. Elfdalian, which shares some similarities with Old Norse is a hot topic at an international linguistics conference in Copenhagen this week, as Scandinavian language experts campaign to stop it dying out.

It might sound like something from Lord of The Rings or The Local's recent April Fool's Day prank but Elfdalian is a real language currently used by around 2500 people in central Sweden and is understood to date back to Viking times.

Previously regarded as a Swedish dialect, leading linguistics experts now consider it a separate language and are battling to save it, after figures emerged that less than 60 children can currently speak it.

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800-year-old rune stick unearthed during excavation of Danish city



The little stick found underneath the streets of Odense, Denmark’s third largest city, is only 8.5 centimetres in length -- but it isn’t just any old stick. The so-called rune stick was made in the early 13th century, said Odense City Museums in a press release.
Archaeologists have been digging for a long time at the excavation beneath I. Vilhelm Werners Square in Odense and they were actually just about to stop when they found three pieces of wood which fitted together to make up the rune stick.
It isn’t easy to decipher what the runes say and the stick itself is extremely fragile, explained rune expert and senior researcher Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum of Denmark in the press release.
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Monday, 27 April 2015

Viking voyages began earlier than thought


Forget about the Viking Age beginning with the brutal sacking of Lindisfarne Priory in 793. According to new research, Norwegian Vikings began long sea voyages at least 70 years earlier, but they came looking for trade not plunder.

Archeologists digging beneath the old marketplace of Ribe, have stumbled upon the remains of reindeer antlers from Norway, which they believe prove trade links with Vikings far to the north. 
 
"This is the first time we have proof that seafaring culture, which was the basis for the Viking era, has a history in Ribe. It's fascinating," Søren Sindbæk, a professor at the University of Aarhus and one of the others of a new study, told ScienceNordic. 
 
Sindbæk believes early trading trips between Norway and Denmark gave the Vikings the seafaring skills that would be used some 70 years later to strike England.

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Reindeer Antlers Suggest Viking Age Began With Trade


Antlers from Norwegian reindeer have been unearthed in Ribe, the oldest commercial center in Denmark. The antlers have been dated to A.D. 725, some 70 years before the Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery in northern England. “The Viking Age becomes a phenomenon in Western Europe because the Vikings learned to use maritime mobility to their advantage. They learned to master sailing to such an extent that they get to the coast of England where the locals don’t expect anything. They come quickly, plunder the unprepared victims, and leave again—a sort of hit and run,” Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University toldScience Nordic. The Norwegian reindeer antlers suggest that Norway’s earliest so-called Vikings developed their maritime skills through trade. “Now we can prove that shipping between Norway and the market town of Ribe was established prior to the Viking era, and trade networks helped to create the incentives and the knowledge of the sea, which made the Viking raids possible. It is the first time that we can clearly link two very important phenomena, the lock and key if you like, of the Viking Age,” he said. For more, see "The First Vikings."

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The Viking Age began in Denmark


The story of the Vikings begins in the year 793 AD, after Norwegian Vikings landed in England on the first official Viking raid. To this day, these fierce raids are the most famous of Viking stories. Now, a new study suggests a more peaceful start to Viking seafaring -- and it all began in Denmark.


 Ribe in Denmark: Scandinavia's first town and central to the beginning  of the Viking Age
[Credit: visitribe.dk] 

Three archaeologists from the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of York (UK) have shown that maritime voyages from Norway to Ribe, the oldest commercial centre in Denmark, occurred long before the Viking age officially began. 

The study shows that early Vikings travelled to Ribe in South Denmark as early as 725 AD. 

The researchers discovered deer antlers in the oldest archaeological deposits of Ribe’s old marketplace and they turned out to be the remains of Norwegian reindeer.

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

South Iceland Cave Made before Settlement

Kverkahellir is close to Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Archaeologist Kristján Ahronson has concluded that Kverkarhellir, a manmade cave between waterfall Seljalandsfoss and farm Seljaland in South Iceland, was partly created around 800 AD, before the settlement of Iceland, which, according to sources, began in 874.
Ahronson presented the results of his analysis of volcanic ash layers from around the cave, among other findings, covered in his book Into the Ocean, at the University of Iceland yesterday, RÚV reports.
“We are about to identify a large dump of material that looks like waste material from construction and dates to around 800 or so,” Ahronson explained. “Kverkahellir, along with Seljalandshellir, is remarkable as it is part of a number of cave sites in southern Iceland, manngerðir hellar [‘manmade caves’], that are marked by cross sculpture.”
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Saturday, 11 April 2015

Greenland Vikings outlived climate change for centuries


New study puts down the myth that climate change killed off the thick-skinned Norsemen in Greenland. (Photo: C. K. Madsen)

In the middle of the 13th century the Vikings who had settled in Greenland encountered no less than ten years of harsh and cold winters and summers. The Norsemen, who were living as farmers, bid farewell to many of their cattle during that period.
The Greenland Vikings were also prevented from setting sail to fetch supplies from their homelands in Europe because they didn't have enough timber to build trading ships. So when Scandinavian traders didn't happen to pass by they were left entirely on their own.
But this didn't knock them out; on the contrary they lived with the worsening climate for almost 200 years during what we later would call the Little Ice Age. This is the conclusion of a new Ph.D. thesis.
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Friday, 10 April 2015

Vikings Survived Greenland’s Harsh Weather for Centuries


Vikings in Greenland survived the Little Ice Age for much longer than previously thought, according to comprehensive studies of the landscape conducted by archaeologist Christian Koch Madsen of the National Museum of Denmark. “The stories we have heard so far about the climate getting worse and the Norsemen disappearing simply don’t hold water,” he told Science Nordic. He says that there were no more than 2,500 people living in Greenland in the middle of the thirteenth century. Earlier estimates have placed the population as high as 6,000. “When the harsh climatic changes began to set in, we can see that the outermost farms were gradually abandoned. 

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Friday, 27 March 2015

DNA map of UK migration history shows Vikings drew the line at pillaging

Analysis shows less Viking DNA than expected, and no single group of Celts.


A fine-grained genetic analysis has created a detailed map of genetic variation across the UK. It gives us a clearer picture of the waves of migration that populated the UK and could also contribute to research on genetic diseases.
Obviously, people in the UK these days don’t always stick around where they were born, so people in a given region don’t necessarily share ancestry. But, if you can find people whose ancestry is closely tied to a particular region, it becomes possible to approximate what genomes would have been like a century ago, before people could move around so easily.
A paper published in Nature this week analyzed the genomes of 2039 people whose grandparents were all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of one another. This effectively meant that the researchers were sampling the genomes of the grandparents, whose average birth year was 1885 and who obviously had strong ties to a region. This allowed the researchers to investigate the genetic structure of the UK population before the mass movements of last century.
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The Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Conquest


The Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Conquest:
A Commemoration of 1066

5 - 7 Feb 2016

2016 is the 950th anniversary of the momentous year 1066, which climaxed with the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest of England. The Bayeux Tapestry commemorated the lead-up to that Conquest and we commemorate, in this conference, both historical events and the work of art. We compare The Bayeux Tapestry’s version of history with other sources and examine the cultural milieu that produced and appreciated it. We consider the ways in which the Bayeux Tapestry is unique among medieval textile furnishings; and we examine how The Bayeux Tapestry itself has been and still is being commemorated, from the nineteenth-century replica displayed in Reading to recent and current community projects that portray history in needlework.

Further details...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Local cults of saints played a role in Scandinavian Christianisation

Parchment fragment of a medieval church book. Image: 
Sara Ellis Nilsson/University of Gothenburg

There is a clear link between the celebration of native saints and the ecclesiastical organisation that emerged in Scandinavia in the 12th century. Yet, according to a new doctoral thesis in history from the University of Gothenburg, important differences can be noted between Sweden and Denmark.

Local cults of saints emerged during the Early Middle Ages in the area of Scandinavia that was separated into the ecclesiastical provinces of Lund and Uppsala, roughly corresponding to modern-day Denmark and Sweden. Dioceses and other institutions were established in both provinces in the 11th and 12th centuries.

A Scandinavian perspective

This first-ever comparative study of all 23 native saints in both provinces yields a comprehensive Scandinavian perspective that has been missing in previous research on European cults of saints.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Discovery sheds light on medieval Kiev


When archaeologists performed a routine check on a construction site in central Kiev in late February, they were astonished to discover a medieval street hidden seven meters underground.


Archaeologists from the Kiev Center of Archaeology dig out a 11th-13th century  street on Poshtova Square in Kiev on March 10. The unique findings s how that ancient Kiev was bigger than historians had presumed  [Credit: © Anastasia Vlasova/Kyiv Post]

The remains of the wooden buildings that date back to Kievan Rus were found at the mall construction site at Poshtova Square in the Podil neighborhood near the Dnipro River.

The finding generated excitement among archaeologists and the general public.

“Podil is very well studied, which is why everyone was very surprised when we first saw the fragments of the 12th century wooden fence and house," says Ivan Zotsenko, one of the archaeologists working on the spot.

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together


More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Excavators of a Viking trading center in Sweden called Birka recovered the silver ring in the late 1800s. Until now, it was thought that it featured a violet amethyst engraved with Arabic-looking characters. But closer inspection with a scanning electron microscope revealed that the presumed amethyst is colored glass (an exotic material at the time), say biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University and his colleagues.

An inscription on the glass inset reads either “for Allah” or “to Allah” in an ancient Arabic script, the researchers report February 23 in Scanning.

Scandinavians traded for fancy glass objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,400 years ago (SN: 1/24/15, p. 8). Thus, seagoing Scandinavians could have acquired glass items from Islamic traders in the same part of the world more than 2,000 years later rather than waiting for such desirable pieces to move north through trade networks.

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Islamic coins found in Viking grave from Norway


In August 2014 a hobby archaeologist found a Viking Age sword with metal detector in a field in Skaun, just south of Trondheim in Central Norway. Now, archaeologists have examined the finding and have some exciting news about the owner. 


The Viking grave [Credit: Ragnar Vennatrø/NTNU Museum  of Natural History and Archaeology] 

Having examined the grave, archaeologists at the NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim tell NRK that it is dated to about the year 950. In addition to the sword, researchers found the remains of a shield. 

"We have not managed to find out who owned the sword, but we know that he was a well travelled man", says archaeologist Ingrid Ystgaard. 

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Monday, 2 February 2015

Iceland to build first temple to Norse gods since Viking age


Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.
Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.
“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.
“We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.“
Membership in Asatruarfelagid has tripled in Iceland in the last decade to 2,400 members last year, out of a total population of 330,000, data from StatisticsIceland showed.
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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Up Helly Aa, longship burning festival – in pictures


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

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)

Mon 26 Jan to Fri 17 Apr 2015

University of Oxford 

Department of Continuing Education

Further details...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Viking blacksmith found buried with his tools


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


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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Viking Artefacts


Viking Artefacts is an interesting blog run by Thomas Kamphaus.

He describes his interest as follows: 

"Why interested in vikings ?"

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

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

You can find the blog here...

Monday, 12 January 2015

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

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

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


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

Oldest Danish town possibly older


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

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


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

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

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

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Monday, 8 December 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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Major Viking Hall Identified in Sweden


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Friday, 28 November 2014

Sword’s Secrets Revealed


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

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

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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


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

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

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Recreating clothes from Norway's Iron Age


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


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

Excitement 

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

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