Friday, 11 April 2014

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


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


A 4,500-year-old log boat is among 12 early Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval craft that have been located in Lough Corrib, along with several Viking-style battle axes and other weapons. 

A researcher documents one of the Lough Corrib finds [Credit: RTE News] 

The vessels were discovered by marine surveyor Capt Trevor Northage while mapping the western lake to update British admiralty charts. 

Investigative dives were subsequently carried out last summer by the underwater archaeology unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service, and radiocarbon dating of samples was then conducted. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who wa

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Vikings: hearts of darkness?

Slave collar, St. John’s Lane, Dublin, E173:X119. © National Museum of Ireland

Tom Williams, Exhibition Project Curator, British Museum
The tidal current runs to and fro […] crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! … The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899).
Here, surely, we have a passionate and evocative description of the Vikings: bold adventurers stepping forward onto the world stage, ready to set a blaze on four continents and pave the way for the nations that would rise in their wake.
In fact, this passage, taken from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, describes the explorers, buccaneers, settlers and merchants – ‘the dark ‘interlopers’ of the eastern trade, and the commissioned ‘generals’ of the East India fleets” – who had set out from the Thames from the 16th to the 19th century, laying the foundations of the British Empire and changing the world forever.
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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Book Review: An Early Meal - a Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg


Raiders... conquerors... fierce in battle and strong in family. These are the images that the world has of Vikings. We know where they lived, and to some degree how they made a living. We know which gods they worshipped and how. Yet the bulk of our knowledge consists of broad brush strokes that omit the nuances of everyday life. The Vikings recorded many things, from The Sagas to business transactions and personal letters. But beyond a brief and occasional mention, two of the many things they didn’t write about were what they ate and how they prepared their meals. The Vikings left no recipes.

To that end An Early Meal, by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg, is a triumph. It is a triumph of a book in the fields of both culinary history and world foods that rips the shroud of mystery off Viking cuisine. It is also the only book available with recipes that even approach authentic Viking Age dishes.

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Monday, 31 March 2014

Researchers suggest Vikings used crystals with sun compass to steer at night

Credit: Soren Thirslund

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers working in Hungary has proposed that a sun compass artifact found in a convent in 1948 might have been used in conjunction with crystals to allow Vikings to guide their boats even at night. In their paper published inProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences, the team describes theories they've developed that might explain how Viking sailors were able to so accurately sail to places such as Greenland.
Since the discovery of the sun compass fragment,  have theorized that Viking sailors used them to plot their course—at least when the sun was shining. They didn't have magnetic compasses, however, which suggest they must have had some other means for steering in the evening or the later hours. In this latest effort, the researchers describe a scenario where the Vikings might have used a type of crystal that they called a sunstone to help them use light from the sun below the horizon as a guide.
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Forget GPS: Medieval Compass Guided Vikings After Sunset

The Uunartoq disc was discovered in an 11th century convent in Greenland in 1948. It is thought to have been used as a compass by the Vikings as they traversed the North Atlantic Ocean from Norway to Greenland.
Credit: Copyright Proceedings of the Royal Society A; Balazs Bernath; Alexandra Farkas; Denes Szaz; Miklos Blaho; Adam Egri; Andras Barta; Susanne Akesson; and Gabor Horvath

Often regarded as ruthless robbers, the Vikings were also impressive mariners capable of traversing the North Atlantic along a nearly straight line. Now, new interpretations of a medieval compass suggest the sea robbers may have skillfully used the sun to operate the compass even when the sun had set below the horizon.

The remains of the supposed compass — known as theUunartoq disc— were found in Greenland in 1948 in an 11th-century convent. Though some researchers originally argued it was simply a decorative object, other researchers have suggested the disc was an important navigational tool that theVikings would have used in their roughly 1,600-mile-long (2,500 kilometers) trek from Norway to Greenland.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

'Awesome' Viking warship 'struck terror into people'


There are ghosts at the British Museum.

Hulking, hairy, bloodthirsty warriors grunting in unison as they row the biggest warship of its kind the world has ever known.

Can the gallery curator see them, or am I the only one? He laughs -- a little nervously: "Yes, you do get a sense of them."

Looming before us is Roskilde 6, the largest Viking ship ever discovered, carefully reconstructed after 1,000 years languishing beneath the waves. At 37 meters long it's double the size of the boat Christopher Columbus sailed to America.

Ghost armies or not, it is a sight to behold. The ship's fearsome metal frame seemingly rises from a watery netherworld on a mission to conquer the globe -- once and for all.

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

ikings: Life and Legend review – a stirring tale of shock and oar


The British Museum showcases the poetry, boats and bling of the marauding 11th-century Norsemen who, above all else, understood curves…

Three of the Lewis Chessmen, c.1150-1200, discovered on Lewis, Shetland, and thought to originate from Norway. Photograph: British Museum
Anyone who has even dipped a toe in the briny sagas of the Viking kings will know that the stag outing the itinerant Norsemen prized above all others always began something like this: "On Saturday the fleet-lord throws off the long tarpaulin, and splendid widows from the town gaze on the planking of the dragon ship. The young ruler steers the brand new warship west out of the Nio, and the oars of the warriors fall into the sea… " Those lines come from the 11th-century court poet Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, and they describe the characteristic actions of the fleet of Harald Hardradra (Harold the Hard Ruler), the last great Viking king, who fought unsuccessfully to extend his Norwegian monarchy to Denmark and then Britain. He died at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 along with his poet.
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Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Vikings are here…


Gareth Williams, Exhibition Curator, British Museum
Lo, it is nearly thirty-five years since the Vikings last came to this Museum, and nobody believed that such an influx of fantastic material from overseas (as well as the UK) could be made…*
To be fair, the BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend lacks some of the drama of the original Viking attack on Lindisfarne in 793. We haven’t had fiery dragons in the sky (unless you count the Aurora Borealis coming unusually far south), and there hasn’t been much in the way of destruction or slaughter. Nor is it likely that this exhibition will be remembered 1200 years after the event, although in an age of globalised communication, there is no doubt that the exhibition has attracted considerably more notice in the last few days than the attack on Lindisfarne did at the time. Nevertheless, as the largest Viking exhibition in the UK for over 30 years, it has the potential to shape our definition of the Viking Age.
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Friday, 28 February 2014

Vikings in Russia

Tom Williams, Project Curator: Vikings, British Museum
Scandinavians traditionally do rather well at the winter Olympics – for perhaps obvious reasons – but their Viking ancestors would have been no stranger to some of the delights of Sochi. Skis were used and valued in the North. Earl Rognvald I of Orkney boasted that (among several other skills) he could ‘glide on skis’, and the god Ullr was also associated with skiing. In fact, he has been taken as a sort of unofficial patron of the winter ski community, whose members often wear medallions depicting the god – there would no doubt have been a good number of Ullr talismans among the skiers in Sochi.
And, while the bob-sleigh may have been unknown, sledges of various kinds are certainly known from Viking burials, including a particularly beautiful example that was found in the famous boat burial from Oseberg in Norway.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

EARLY CHRISTIANS IN VIKING DENMARK

An Early Viking Christian? Image: Sydvestjyske Museum

Excavations at the Domskirke in Ribe, Denmark began in 2008 and analysis of the results lend new insight into early Christianity, where this may have been one of the first places in the country where a small enclave of Christians worshipped and died.
Studies have now shown that there may have been Christian Vikings in Ribe around AD865. Denmark officially became a Christian country around the year AD965 when Harald Bluetooth announced his deed on the Jelling stone (see below). It now seems possible that 100 years before this countrywide conversion, Christian Danish Vikings were living, dying and being buried in Ribe.

Early Christian burials

In the excavations conducted by the Southwest Jutland Museums between 2008-2012 around the Domskirke, the archaeologists found over 70 burials from the earliest period of activity. The tombs provide a unique insight into the early Christian burial customs, and have become be a major source of debate in Denmark.
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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Die geheimen Codes der Wikinger


Wikinger liebten Geheimcodes. Einige sind schon lange bekannt, andere stellen Runologen immer noch vor Rätsel. Dem Linguisten Jonas Nordby von der Universität Oslo ist es jetzt gelungen, mit dem Jötunvillur Code eine weitere Geheimschrift zu knacken.

Codierte Botschaften müssen nicht immer erhabenen Inhalts sein. Bei weitem nicht jeder Geheimcode verrät ein Schatzversteck oder Ort und Datum eines militärischen Manövers. Die allermeisten Botschaften, die in einer Geheimschrift verfasst werden, sollen vor allem eins: Spaß machen. Wahrscheinlich hat jeder in der Schule seinem besten Freund Zettel zugesteckt, auf denen er ihn in Kalle Blomquists Räubersprache zum "totrorefoffofenon umom einonson" aufgefordert hat. Oder in der Löffelsprache um ein "treleweffelewen ulewum eileweins" gebeten? Was würde ein Archäologe der Zukunft mit einem dieser Zettel anfangen?

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

900-Year-Old Viking Message Decoded, Reads 'Kiss Me'


The mystery of a 900-year-old Viking message has finally been solved. Cryptologists, put down your cipher devices, because the formerly incomprehensible code that's been haunting your dreams reads in part: "Kiss me."
A runic artifact that reads: "Kiss Me". Photographer: Jonas Nordby.
The baffling Jötunvillur code, which dates back to as early as the 9th century, has popped up in over 80 different Norse inscriptions, puzzling runologists (those who study the Viking rune alphabets) for some time. That is, until Jonas Nordby, a runologist from the University of Oslo, valiantly broke the code, realizing a simple pattern amongst the writings.
"For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name," he explained in an interview with Forskning.no. "For example, the rune for 'f', pronounced 'fe,' would be turned into an 'e,' while the rune for 'k,' pronounced 'kaun,' became 'n.'"
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Mysterious code in Viking runes is cracked


Why did Vikings sometimes use codes when they wrote in runes? Were the messages secret, or did they have other reasons for encrypting their runic texts? Researchers still don’t know for sure. 


A rather forthright message written in code: “Kiss me” is etched into a piece of bone found in Sigtuna in Sweden, dating to the 12th or 13th century. The code is in cipher runes, the most common code known from medieval Scandinavia. This variety is called ice runes [Credit: Jonas Nordby] 

But Runologist K. Jonas Nordby thinks he has made progress toward an answer. He has managed to crack a code called jötunvillur, which has baffled linguists and historians for years. 

His discovery can help researchers understand the purpose behind the mystery codes.

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Mysterious code in Viking runes is cracked


A runic code called jötunvillur has finally been decrypted. It just might help solve the mystery of the Vikings’ secret codes.

Two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, carved their names both in code and in standard runes on this stick, dated from the 13th century and found at the Bergen Wharf. This helped researcher Jonas Nordby crack the jötunvillur code. (Photo: Aslak Liestøl/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Why did Vikings sometimes use codes when they wrote in runes? Were the messages secret, or did they have other reasons for encrypting their runic texts? Researchers still don’t know for sure.

But Runologist K. Jonas Nordby thinks he has made progress toward an answer. He has managed to crack a code called jötunvillur, which has baffled linguists and historians for years.

His discovery can help researchers understand the purpose behind the mystery codes.

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Ancient Viking code deciphered for the first time


Mystery nosed out ... Fragment of wooden stick with runic inscription on one side found at the old wharf in Bergen. The text is written using a code where the number of 'hairs' in the beards of each face indicate the position of the character in the runic alphabet. Museum of cultural history, University of Oslo. Aslak Liestol Photograph: Aslak Liestol/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo
An ancient Norse code which has been puzzling experts for years has been cracked by a Norwegian runologist - to discover the Viking equivalent of playful text messages.
The mysterious jötunvillur code, which dates to 12th or 13th-century Scandinavia, has been unravelled by K Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo, after he studied a 13th-century stick on which two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, had carved their name in both code and in standard runes. The jötunvillur code is found on only nine inscriptions, from different parts of Scandinavia, and has never been interpreted before.
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Viking Code Cracked

OSLO, NORWAY—Runologist K. Jonas Nordby of the University of Oslo has deciphered the ancient Norse jötunvillur code, found on nine known inscriptions. Nordby used a thirteenth-century stick on which two men had carved their names, Sigurd and Lavrans, in standard runes and in the code. The confusing system requires that the reader have a good working knowledge of the runes in order to swap them out with others for sounds in their names. “What if codes were used like a game, playing with a system? With jötunvillur, you had to learn the names of runes, so I think codes were used in teaching, in learning to write and read runes,” he told The Guardian.

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

CULTURAL IDENTITY – CELTIC AND ANGLO-NORMAN REALMS


Jutting out from the edge of the Lake District and home to a proud industrial heritage, the Furness Peninsula seems to weld together many of our contrasting ideas about what Englishness means. To the north lies some of the country’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty; at the southern tip sits a shipyard where nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy are built. The area is defined by working-class values, post-industrial decline and 21st-century regeneration.
By uniting these elements, Furness appears to epitomise many of the complex ideas behind a notion of England that is both very modern, and very old.

Raises questions

But this, it turns out, is far from the complete picture. In a recent project, historians have begun to scratch the surface of a much earlier period in Furness’ past – one that not only changes what we know about its history, but also raises questions about these very ideas of Englishness itself.

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Monday, 3 February 2014

Was Charlemagne a Mass Murderer?


When he heard of this, the Lord King Charles rushed to the place with all the Franks he could gather on short notice and advanced to where the Aller flows into the Weser. Then all the Saxons came together again, submitted to the authority of the Lord King, and surrendered the evildoers who were chiefly responsible for this revolt to be put to death – four thousand five hundred of them. The sentence was carried out.

This entry for the year 782 in the Royal Frankish Annals is one of the most debated topics of Charlemagne’s reign. Did the ‘Massacre of Verden’ actually happen with 4500 people being killed in a single day? Was the Carolingian ruler (and later Holy Roman Emperor) justified in his actions? Or was this a brutal act of ethnic-cleansing that has left a terrible mark on the man who is credited with re-establishing Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire?

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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Summer Courses in Archaeology


The Oxford Experience Summer School



Courses in Archaeology


The Oxford Experience Summer School is held at Christ Church, Oxford

The Oxford Experience Summer School offers a number of one-week courses in archaeology as part of its programme.

Participants live in Christ Church - the largest of the Oxford Colleges - and take their meals in the Great Hall, which is the hall that inspired the Hogwarts Hall in the Harry Potter films.

Courses are limited to a maximum of twelve participants and tend to fill up rather quickly, so early application is advised.


Youcan find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Training Digs for 2014



Now is the time to start thinking about training digs for the summer.

If you are planning to go on a training dig, take a look at our list here...

If you would like to submit details of a training dig (or any other archaeological event), please use the contact form here...

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Vikings are coming…

Iron axe-head found in the Thames at Hammersmith, Viking, 10th-11th century (1909,0626.8)

Tom Williams, Project Curator: Vikings, British Museum
Several years ago I worked at the Tower of London. Spending long periods of time within a building of such age, I would often start to wonder about how the area would have looked before the castle was built. Every morning I would pass the remains of Roman walls at Tower Bridge station, walls that were repaired and refortified by King Alfred the Great in response to the very real threat of Viking raids from the river. Blotting out the great hulk of HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the modern office blocks that now crowd the banks, I would try to imagine the awe and the terror that a Londoner would have felt a thousand years ago, standing on the city walls, watching the carved and gilded prows of dragon ships silently gliding up the Thames. Viking fleets and armies raided and besieged the city on numerous occasions, and the river has given up dozens of weapons that might have ended up there as a result of those conflicts.
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Govan Stones: The Viking-Age treasures

The sarcophagus dates back to about AD 900

A unique collection of Viking-age monuments, which lay unloved in a Govan churchyard for 1,000 years, has attracted the attention of the British Museum. Its curator said the Govan Stones was one of the best collections of early medieval sculpture anywhere in the British isles.
Govan is well-known as an industrial powerhouse which, over the past 150 years, has built an incredible number of the world's largest ships.
However the town, now part of the city of Glasgow, has a long and largely-forgotten history as one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Scotland and the main church of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, the lost kingdom of the northern Britons.
In AD 870, Vikings, who had been based in Dublin, destroyed Dumbarton at the mouth of the Clyde, which had been a major power centre in the centuries after the Romans departed from Britain.
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Swedish divers unearth Stone Age settlement


"One-of-a-kind" Stone Age artefacts left by Swedish nomads 11,000 years ago have been discovered by divers in the Baltic Sea, prompting some to claim that Sweden's Atlantis had been found.

A diver exams an 11,000-year old tree trunk [Credit: Arne Sjostrom]

 "What we have here is maybe one of the oldest settlements from the first more permanent sites in Scania and in Sweden full stop," project leader and archaeology professor at Sodertorn University Bjorn Nilsson told The Local. 

Nilsson's team has been diving in Hano, a sandy bay off the coast of Skane County, and has been given the resources by the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieambetet) needed for a three-year excavation of an area 16 metres below the water's surface.

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Old Norse people drank wine 3,000 years ago

Researchers have found traces of wine in jars, dating back to 1100 BC. The finds suggest that wine was imported long before previously thought.


The discovery of traces of wine in an Old Norse jar reveals that Nordic people drank wine as early as 1100 BC. The archaeologists behind the discovery believe that Nordic people may have received the wine through trading with central and southern Europeans. (Illustration: Robert Brown)

Having recently studied three jars from ancient Denmark and one cup from southern Sweden, researchers found traces of wine in one of the jars, which may originate as far back as 1100 BC.
The new study indicates that Old Norse people traded wine with central and southern Europeans long before the Iron Age, when most of the earliest traces of wine in the North started to appear.
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Thursday, 23 January 2014

British Museum launches The BP Exhibition Vikings: life and legend


In March 2014 the British Museum will open the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery with a major exhibition on the Vikings, supported by BP.

The exhibition has been developed with the National Museum of Denmark and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) and focuses on the core period of the Viking Age from the late 8th century to the early 11th century.
The extraordinary Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. The Vikings will be viewed in a global context that will highlight the multi-faceted influences arising from extensive cultural contacts. The exhibition will capitalise on new research and thousands of recent discoveries by both archaeologists and metal-detectorists, to set the developments of the Viking Age in context.
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WELL PRESERVED IRON AGE VILLAGE UNCOVERED IN DENMARK


During evaluation of land prior to the construction of a new hospital in Aalborg, Northern Denmark, archaeologists uncovered an Iron Age village dating back around 2000 years. The settlement differs from other sites of this period because of its well preserved condition, including a number of houses complete with fireplaces, chalk floors and cobbled paving.

The village covers an area of ​​approximately 4 ha., and excavation has so far located about 40 houses. However, this number is expected to increase greatly during full excavation, but initial reports show they are not all contemporary, and represent repeated reconstruction and rebuild over hundreds of years.
Usually, only traces of the postholes are left to understand the layout of a house, but the village had been covered over with a thick layer of soil, that had protected it after abandonment. Several of the houses had floors created out of chalk for the living area, while other parts of the buildings appeared to be used as stabling for animals. Preliminary studies show bones found were mainly from the butchering of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, but the inhabitants supplemented their diet with fish from the nearby fjord.

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Hilary Term Online Courses in Archaeology


Hillary Term begins tomorrow at Oxford, but there is still time to enrol for one of the online courses in archaeology.

Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.

These courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

The following courses are available:

Researchers claim to have found King Alfred's pelvis


Researchers said Friday they may have discovered remains of King Alfred the Great, the 9th-century royal remembered for protecting England from the Vikings and educating a largely illiterate nation. 

The portion of a pelvic bone said to belong either to Alfred, the only English king to have the moniker "Great", or his son King Edward the Elder was identified in remains dug up at a medieval abbey in Winchester, southwest England, the capital of Alfred's kingdom [Credit: University of Winchester] 

The University of Winchester said in a statement that a pelvis found in a box of bones in the city's museum is likely to be either from the legendary leader or his son, King Edward the Elder.

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Bone fragment 'could be King Alfred or son Edward'

The fragment of pelvis dates back to the period in history when King Alfred died

A fragment of pelvis bone unearthed in Winchester in 1999 may belong to King Alfred the Great or his son Edward the Elder, academics have said.
It was found at a previous dig at Hyde Abbey and has been dated to 895-1017 - the era the king died.
Experts were originally testing remains exhumed last year from an unmarked grave at St Bartholomew's Church, where it was thought he was buried.
But they were found to be from the 1300s, not 899, when the king died.
The fragment of pelvis had been among remains stored in two boxes at Winchester's City Museum and was tested by academics at Winchester University after their study into the exhumed remains proved fruitless.
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Saturday, 18 January 2014

King Alfred the Great bones believed to be in box found in museum


The first remains of King Alfred the Great may have been found at last after tests on a pelvic bone unearthed in Winchester revealed it belonged to either the Anglo-Saxon King or his son Edward.
But after a high-profile excavation of an unmarked grave where the Anglo-Saxon King was believed to be buried, the location of the bone was much more mundane - a storage box in the bowels of a local museum.
Archaeologists from the University of Winchester had initially analysed six skeletons excavated from a grave at St Bartholomew's Church, the historic site of Hyde Abbey, last March.
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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Treasure hunters found nearly 1,000 items in 2012

It is thought these coins, minted in the name of Edmund, King of East Anglia, were buried when Vikings attacked Britain in 865#

Amateur archaeologists with metal detectors found 990 items classified as treasure during 2012, according to figures from the British Museum.
All of the rare coins, rings and brooches contain gold or silver, and many date back more than 1,200 years.
The public reported more than 74,000 other historical items to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which experts say has "revolutionised archaeology".
More than 900,000 objects have been reported since it started in 1997.
The verification process takes several months, which is why the items submitted in 2012 are only being detailed now.
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Friday, 10 January 2014

New Iron Age Sites Discovered in Finland

A National Board of Antiquities archaeologist excavates at the Ahvenkoski harbor forge. The furnace was located between two stones, and in the ground one can see dark gray iron slag pieces. 
Image courtesy Jouni Jäppinen.

It was in the autumn of 2010 when local amateur archaeologists discovered evidence of harbor facilities thought to date from around 1000–1200 AD near Ahvenkoski village at the mouth of the western branch of the Kymi River in southeastern Finland. The findings included a smithy, an iron smelting furnace, and forceps, as well as hundreds of iron objects such as boat rivets similar to those found at Viking settlements in different parts of the Baltic, Scandinavia, Scotland and Iceland. Then, in 2011, a possible 2 x 3-meter-wide cremation grave was uncovered, confirmed later through rescue excavations by archaeologists from the Finnish National Board of Antiquities and through osteological analysis at the University of Helsinki. Artifacts included a battle axe, a knife, and a bronze buckle, all associated with burned human bones, initially thought to be dated to around 1000 - 1200 CE before analysis. Similar objects have been discovered in the Baltic Sea area and in Ladoga Karelia. Identical cape buckles have also been found in Gotland. 

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Network theory and the heroes of Icelandic sagas

Egill Skallagrímsson from a 17th-century manuscript [Credit: WikiCommons] 

The Icelandic sagas of the Norse people are thousand-year-old chronicles of brave deeds and timeless romances, but how true to Viking life were they? Writing in Significance, Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna use a statistical network of associations between characters to find out. 

While the stories involve a cast of thousands, recurring characters have emerged as the stories passed into historical legend. A set of recurring characters living within the same fictional world is not restricted to ancient stories, such as the Norse or Greek myths, but remains a popular device in modern comic and film franchises. 

By exploring the number of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ interactions between protagonists, the researchers built a network of recurring characters which in turn could help reveal if the stories are invented or if they are based on a real society.

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Karl der Große: Macht, Kunst, Schätze


Karl der Große: Macht, Kunst, Schätze - three major exhibitions which will run in Aachen from 20 June to 21 September 2014 to mark the 1200th anniversary of the death of Charlemagne.

The three exhibitions are listed as:

Places of Power
The exhibition in the town hall’s coronation hall, the former kings’ hall of the palace, focuses on Charlemagne’s imperial palaces.

Charles’s Art
At the Centre Charlemagne, a new exhibition housed in the heart of the imperial palace, the golden age of culture during the Carolingian period is presented with top-class works of art.

Lost Treasures
In the cathedral’s treasure chamber next to Carolingian Marienkirche, precious church treasures from the Carolingian period and the Middle Ages return to their original site once again.

This should prove to be the most important Carolingian exhibition since the 'Karl der Große und Pabst Leo III. in Paderborn' exhibition held in 1999.

Go to the exhibition website...

Looted Viking treasure is discovered in British Museum store

The Celtic brooch looted by the Vikings and discovered in the museum's collection. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer
A Celtic treasure looted by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago has been discovered in the British Museum's storerooms. An ornate, gilded disc brooch dating from the eighth or ninth century was found by chance and is being described as a "staggering find". No-one knew of its existence until now.
It had been concealed in a lump of organic material excavated from a Viking burial site at Lilleberge in Norway by a British archaeologist in the 1880s and acquired by the British Museum in 1891.
Curator Barry Ager, a Vikings specialist, was poring over artefacts before a visit from a Norwegian researching the Viking site when his eye was caught by some metal sticking out of the side of the organic lump.
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1,000-year-old loot found in British Museum store

The Celtic brooch looted from the Vikings and discovered in the museum's collection 
[Credit: Andy Hall for the Observer] 

A Celtic treasure looted by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago has been discovered in the British Museum's storerooms. An ornate, gilded disc brooch dating from the eighth or ninth century was found by chance and is being described as a "staggering find". No-one knew of its existence until now. 

It had been concealed in a lump of organic material excavated from a Viking burial site at Lilleberge in Norway by a British archaeologist in the 1880s and acquired by the British Museum in 1891. 

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RAISING A HORN TO NORDIC DRINKING HERITAGE


Anew book describes the fascinating history of drinking horns and their importance within Scandinavian culture where their roots stretch back into at least the Iron Age as several graves have been found to contain examples from this period.

A long history

During Classical Antiquity, it was the Thracians and Scythians who were known for their custom of drinking from actual horns but in Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece, although they had retained their shape the materials used were clay or metal. Their spread across Central Europe and into Scandanavia by the 5th century BC can be traced by their fittings found in various graves.
The Gallehus horns, discovered north of Møgeltønder in Southern Jutland, Denmark, were created from sheet gold. Designed to look like auroch horns, they were found in 1639 and in 1734 respectively at locations only 20 metres apart and date to the early 5th century BC. Sadly the originals were stolen and melted down in 1802.

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Sweyn Forkbeard: England's forgotten Viking king

Sweyn Forkbeard (shown left), England's shortest reigning king, remains in the shadows of both his son Canute the Great, and father Harold Bluetooth

On Christmas Day 1013, Danish ruler Sweyn Forkbeard was declared King of all England and the town of Gainsborough its capital. But why is so little known of the man who would be England's shortest-reigning king and the role he played in shaping the early history of the nation?
For 20 years, Sweyn, a "murderous character" who deposed his father Harold Bluetooth, waged war on England.
And exactly 1,000 years ago, with his son Canute by his side, a large-scale invasion finally proved decisive.
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