Friday, 5 February 2016

From genes to latrines: Vikings and their worms provide clues to emphysema


In a paper published today in Nature: Scientific Reports a group of researchers led by LSTM have found that the key to an inherited deficiency, predisposing people to emphysema and other lung conditions, could lie in their Viking roots.
Archaeological excavations of Viking latrine pits in Denmark have revealed that these populations suffered massive worm infestations (link is external). The way that their genes developed to protect their vital organs from disease caused by worms has become the inherited trait which can now lead to lung disease in smokers. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema affect over 300 million people, or nearly 5% of the global population. The only inherited risk factor is alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, and this risk is compounded if individuals smoke tobacco.

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Viking 'sunstones' put to the test


Ancient records tell us that the intrepid Viking seafarers who discovered Iceland, Greenland and eventually North America navigated using landmarks, birds and whales, and little else. There's little doubt that Viking sailors would also have used the positions of stars at night and the sun during the daytime, and archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a kind of Viking navigational sundial. But without magnetic compasses, like all ancient sailors they would have struggled to find their way once the clouds came over. 


Viking 'sunstones' put to the test Leif Erikson discovers America 
[Credit: Christian Krogh/WikiCommons] 

However, there are also several reports in Nordic sagas and other sources of a sólarsteinn "sunstone". The literature doesn't say what this was used for but it has sparked decades of research examining if this might be a reference to a more intriguing form of navigational tool.

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber


Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber: Rituale Früher Jäger
5.12.2015 - 28.3.2016
Archäologische Museum Frankfurt 

Warum hat man Bären feierlich bestattet?
Weshalb tanzten Schamanen mit einem Hirschgeweih auf dem Kopf?
In welchen Zauberwelten weilten sie bei ihren Séancen?
Und wozu dienten Äxte und Stäbe, die wie Köpfe von Elchkühen gestaltet waren?

Bärenzeremoniell, Hirschtanz sowie Ren- und Elchkult waren religiös-schamanische Rituale zahlreicher indigener Jägervölker im Norden Skandinaviens und Sibiriens. Mit Faszination und Abscheu begegneten Geistliche und Reisende des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts diesen Praktiken. Sie verdammten sie als „erschröcklichen Abgötterej vnnd verehrung der Teuffel". Dahinter stand jedoch eine urtümliche Vorstellungswelt und Religiosität, die in der Lebensform archaischer Jäger-Fischer-Sammler-Kulturen wurzelte.


Staunen erweckt jedoch nicht nur die weite Verbreitung dieser Kulte über die gesamte zirkumpolare Zone, sondern noch mehr ihr unergründliches Alter. Denn die Verehrung von Bären und Geweihträgern, verbunden mit schamanischen Ritualen, ist schon für die Altsteinzeit überliefert, dem Auftreten des modernen Menschen in Europa vor etwa 40 000 Jahren und noch darüber hinaus. In den religiösen Phänomenen neuzeitlicher Ethnien der nördlichen Hemisphäre werden somit Züge einer menschlichen „Urreligion" sichtbar.

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Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber


Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber: Rituale Früher Jäger
5.12.2015 - 28.3.2016
Archäologische Museum Frankfurt 

Warum hat man Bären feierlich bestattet?
Weshalb tanzten Schamanen mit einem Hirschgeweih auf dem Kopf?
In welchen Zauberwelten weilten sie bei ihren Séancen?
Und wozu dienten Äxte und Stäbe, die wie Köpfe von Elchkühen gestaltet waren?

Bärenzeremoniell, Hirschtanz sowie Ren- und Elchkult waren religiös-schamanische Rituale zahlreicher indigener Jägervölker im Norden Skandinaviens und Sibiriens. Mit Faszination und Abscheu begegneten Geistliche und Reisende des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts diesen Praktiken. Sie verdammten sie als „erschröcklichen Abgötterej vnnd verehrung der Teuffel". Dahinter stand jedoch eine urtümliche Vorstellungswelt und Religiosität, die in der Lebensform archaischer Jäger-Fischer-Sammler-Kulturen wurzelte.


Staunen erweckt jedoch nicht nur die weite Verbreitung dieser Kulte über die gesamte zirkumpolare Zone, sondern noch mehr ihr unergründliches Alter. Denn die Verehrung von Bären und Geweihträgern, verbunden mit schamanischen Ritualen, ist schon für die Altsteinzeit überliefert, dem Auftreten des modernen Menschen in Europa vor etwa 40 000 Jahren und noch darüber hinaus. In den religiösen Phänomenen neuzeitlicher Ethnien der nördlichen Hemisphäre werden somit Züge einer menschlichen „Urreligion" sichtbar.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

English DNA 'one-third' Anglo-Saxon

This triple burial from Oakington, Cambridgeshire, includes metal and amber grave goods

The present-day English owe about a third of their ancestry to the Anglo-Saxons, according to a new study.

Scientists sequenced genomes from 10 skeletons unearthed in eastern England and dating from the Iron Age through to the Anglo-Saxon period.
Many of the Anglo-Saxon samples appeared closer to modern Dutch and Danish people than the Iron Age Britons did.
According to historical accounts and archaeology, the Anglo-Saxons migrated to Britain from continental Europe from the 5th Century AD. They brought with them a new culture, social structure and language.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

EMAS Archaeology Study Tour: Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry


Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry

21 - 28 May 2016


2016 will be the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The famous Bayeux Tapestry that depicts this battle also presents a map of the events that led up to Hastings.

This study tour will follow the route of this map, starting at Westminster and following Harold’s progression through Normandy, and then on to the arrival of William’s forces at Pevensey and finally to Battle, where we will look at the evidence for the suggested new location for the Battle of Hastings.

Full details of this study tour can be found here...

N.B. In order to be certain of a place you need to apply by 1 February 2016  at the latest.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Scientists find 1,500-year-old pre-Viking settlement beneath new airport site


When Norway announced plans to expand its Ørland Airport this year, archaeologists got excited. They knew that pre-construction excavation was likely to reveal ancient artifacts from the Iron Age, centuries before the Vikings ruled. But they got far more than they had hoped.
Ørland Airport is located in a region of Norway that changed dramatically after the last ice age ended. The area was once completely covered by a thick, heavy layer of ice whose weight caused the Earth's crust to sink below sea level. When the glaciers melted, much of this region remained underwater, creating a secluded bay where today there is nothing but dry land. At the fringes of this vanished bay, archaeologists with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Museum found the remains of what appears to have been a large, wealthy farming community.
Surveying an area of roughly 91,000 square meters, the researchers uncovered post holes for three large "longhouses" arranged in a U-shape, where villagers would have gathered, honored their chieftain, and possibly stored food. Over the next year, the team plans to unearth more of the village layout—with help from the Norwegian government, which funds scientific excavations at sites set for development.
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Kinder, Gentler Vikings? Not According to Their Slaves


New clues suggest slaves were vital to the Viking way of life—and argue against attempts to soften the raiders’ brutish reputation.
A bare-chested Viking offers a slave girl to a Persian merchant in an artist’s rendering of a scene from Bulgar, a trading town on the Volga River.

The ancient reputation of Vikings as bloodthirsty raiders on cold northern seas has undergone a radical change in recent decades. A kinder, gentler, and more fashionable Viking emerged. (See “Did Vikings Get a Bum Rap?”)
But our view of the Norse may be about to alter course again as scholars turn their gaze to a segment of Viking society that has long remained in the shadows.
Archaeologists are using recent finds and analyses of previous discoveries—from iron collars in Ireland to possible plantation houses in Sweden—to illuminate the role of slavery in creating and maintaining the Viking way of life.
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Friday, 18 December 2015

Rare Viking hoard found by detectorist in Oxfordshire


A rare Viking hoard of arm rings, coins and silver ingots has been unearthed in Oxfordshire. The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the "Last Kingdom". 


The hoard includes rare coins, jewellery and silver ingots
[Credit: Trustees of the British Museum]

This was when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of the Vikings, which was to lead to the unification of England. 

Archaeologists have called the hoard a "nationally significant find". The hoard was discovered by 60-year-old metal detectorist James Mather.

He said: "I hope these amazing artefacts can be displayed by a local museum to be enjoyed by generations to come." 

The find in October was lifted in a block of soil and brought to the British Museum, where it was excavated and studied by experts from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

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The Viking Phenomena


Neil Price, Professor at the Institution for Archaeology at the University in Uppsala has been granted 50 mill SEK (5.4 mill EUR/5,9 Mill USD) to study “Vikingafenomenet” – The Viking Phenomena.

“The Viking Phenomena” is an umbrella programme that shelters several sub-strands, with a principle focus on the polities of eastern Scandinavia in the mid-eighth century.
A primary objective is the final, full publication of the Vallsgärde cemetery – Uppsala’s most prominent archaeological excavation over the years – to be undertaken by a team coordinated under the direction of Neil Price. This will be supported by an international collaborative arm with an Estonian team, conducting detailed post-excavation research on the extraordinary twin boat graves discovered at Salme on Saaremaa, which seem to represent the casualties of a raid on Estonia launched from Swedish Uppland, perhaps even by the Valsgärde people themselves.
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Monday, 14 December 2015

Viking hoard found in field sheds light on England's origins


 A trove of Viking jewelry and Saxon coins unearthed by an amateur treasure-hunter in a farmer's field may help rescue an English king from obscurity.
The Watlington Hoard, a collection of silver bands, ingots and 186 coins unveiled at the British Museum Thursday, dates from a tumultuous period. The coins were minted during the reign of Alfred the Great, ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, who battled a "great heathen army" of Viking invaders during the 9th century.
By coincidence, discovery of the hoard coincides with the broadcast of "The Last Kingdom," a big-budget BBC drama series that has boosted popular interest in the conflict between Alfred and the Vikings.
Alfred is renowned as the ruler whose victories helped create a unified England, but some of the coins in the hoard also bear the name of the far more obscure King Ceolwulf II of Mercia, a neighboring kingdom to Wessex.
"Poor Ceolwulf gets a very bad press in Anglo Saxon history," said museum coins curator Gareth Williams. What little is known of him was written at Alfred's court and paints Ceolwulf as "a puppet of the Vikings."

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Viking hoard discovery reveals little-known king 'airbrushed from history'


A hoard of Viking coins could change our understanding of English history, after showing how Alfred the Great 'airbrushed' out a rival king

A rare coin showing King Alfred ‘the Great’ of Wessex (r.871-99) and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-79)

A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great “airbrushed” a rival king from history.
Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an “unwise King’s thane”.
But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals.
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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Viking link to the North East of Scotland


Their exploits are more linked to the Northern Isles and the west coast of Scotland, with monastries raided, islanders murdered and gold and silver plundered. But new research - and a clutch of archaeological finds - has now suggested that the North East may not have escaped the fury of the Norsemen afterall. 


Vikings in Scotland have been more associated with the Northern Isles and the west coast, but research suggests they may have had a foothold in the north east too  [Credit: The Scotsman] 

Academics at Aberdeen University have been working to fill the “blank space” of Viking activity in Aberdeenshire and Moray, with written history barely touching on the area so far. Using finds recorded through the Treasure Trove system and the input a team of metal detectors in the North East, a picture of possible Viking activity in the old Pictish Kingdom of Fortriu during the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries is now emerging. 

Dr Karen Milek, senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “We tend to think of Viking activity in Scotland as linked to the Northern Isles or the raids on monasteries such as Iona. We have such a good understanding of Norse culture from the Atlantic coast but no one has been talking about the North East.”

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Explore 4,500 British Museum artifacts with Google's help


The British Museum in London holds an array of beautiful and historically significant artifacts including the Rosetta Stone, which helped historians to understand the ancient hieroglyphics used in Egypt. Today, the organisation is teaming up with Google to bring its various collections online as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The search giant has been developing this resource for years by continually visiting and archiving exhibits around the world. With the British Museum, an extra 4,500 objects and artworks are being added to its collection, complete with detailed photos and descriptions.
The most important addition is arguably the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese text which dates back to the 6th-century. The piece is incredibly fragile, so it's only visible in the museum for a few months each year. Through the Cultural Institute, you can take a peek whenever you like -- and because it's been captured at "gigapixel" resolution you can zoom in to see some extraordinary details. All of the objects are searchable on Google's site, along with a couple of curated collections about ancient Egypt and Celtic life in the British Iron Age.
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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Detectorist finds hoard of 5,000 Anglo-Saxon coins


A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what may be a unique penny. The discovery, near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire is said to be the biggest hoard of coins in modern times. 



A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what  may be a unique coin. The 5,248 coins were found by Paul Coleman on  December 21 last year [Credit: Kerry Davies/INS News Agency Ltd] 


It includes a uniquely-stamped coin which may be the results of a mix-up at the mint, more than 1,000 years ago. No valuation has officially been placed on the coins, which have formerly been declared as treasure trove, but some experts believe they could be worth more than £1 million. 

The 5,248 coins were found by metal detector enthusiast Paul Coleman on December 21 last year. He almost decided not to dig the site when his metal detector beeped, believing he had come across a hidden manhole cover.

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Viking longhouse discovered in East Iceland


Archeological excavations have pointed to the discovery of a Viking longhouse from the age of settlement in Iceland in Stöð, Stöðvarfjörður in East Iceland. 
On the local website, Fjarðarbyggð, it says that clues about extremely important archeological findings had appeared. An archeologist at the site says that all conclusions point to the fact that the longhouse is the settlement longhouse mentioned in the ancient Landnáma, the medieval book of settlement. The farm at Stöð is thought to be the first settlement longhouse in East Iceland.
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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Amateur archaeologist finds Viking treasure on Danish island

It’s very rare to have found so many Harald Bluetooth coins (photo: Museum Vestsjælland)

A Danish amateur archaeologist has made a stunning find on the island of Omø just off the coast of southern Zealand.
The discovery – which consists of rare silver treasure dating back to the Viking era – was made when Robert Hemming Poulsen paid a work trip to Omø to lay fibre optic cables. He brought his metal detector along and hunted for buried treasure after work.
“A treasure like this is found once every 10-15 years,” said Hugo Hvid Sørensen, a curator from Museum Vestsjælland, where the treasure is now on display. “It contains many items and is extremely well kept because it has been buried in sandy earth.”
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Hiker stumbles upon ‘extraordinary’ 1,200-year-old Viking sword


After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age

Viking sword found by a hiker in Hordaland, Norway. Photograph: Hordaland County Counci

Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

1,200-year-old Viking sword discovered by hiker

This sword dating from c. 750 AD was discovered by a hiker in Norway. An archaeologist said the artifact was an important example of the Viking age.

A sword is probably the last thing you'd expect to find on a hike -- especially one that's more than a millennium old.
But that's what happened to a man in Norway who recently stumbled across a 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient route.
The find, which dates from approximately 750 A.D. and is in exceptionally good condition, was announced by Hordaland County Council.
County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd described the discovery as "quite extraordinary."
"It's quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved ... it might be used today if you sharpened the edge," he told CNN.
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UK buyer sought to keep Anglo-Saxon brooch in country


An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it.
The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women.
Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
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Friday, 23 October 2015

Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway


A hiker travelling the ancient route between western and eastern Norway found a 1,200-year-old Viking sword after sitting down to rest after a short fishing trip. 


The sword is in such good condition it could be used today  [Credit: Hordaland Country Council] 

The sword, found at Haukeli in central southern Norway will be sent for conservation at the The University Museum of Bergen. 

Jostein Aksdal, an archeologist with Hordaland County said that the sword was in such good condition that if it was given a new grip and a polish, it could be used today. 

“The sword was found in very good condition. It is very special to get into a sword that is merely lacking its grip,” he said.

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Early Medieval Church at Seydisfjordur in Iceland


How to envisage the conversion to Christianity in Iceland? This is the question raised by archaeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir in a recent article presenting the early medieval Þórarinsstaðir church in Iceland

The early Christian church site at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, is an example of how religious buildings and their belongings reflect both ecclesiastical and worldly contacts in early medieval Europe.
The site was excavated in 1998–1999 and revealed, for what was then the first time in Iceland, a timber-constructed church building of two phases, dated to the early and late 11th century (Kristjánsdóttir 2004, pp. 84–95). Interestingly, the church buildings at Þórarinsstaðir appeared to be of the same form of construction as that characterizing many of the earliest churches found in Viking settlement areas in Northern Europe: an early type of stave church, here called a post church, notably one built of timber with earth-dug corner posts
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Monday, 12 October 2015


When archaeologists found the first Viking Age fortress in Denmark for 60 years last September, it was hailed as a fantastic archaeological discovery.
Now the time has come for the archaeologists to unearth the hidden secrets and legacy of the fortress, located near Køge just south of Copenhagen. A 20 million kroner grant from the AP Møller Fund and 4.5 million kroner from Køge Municipality has helped make that possible.
“With the grant, the Danish Castle Centre – a division of Museum Southeast Denmark and Aarhus University – has worked out a unique research project seeking to explore the secrets Borgring is hiding beneath Danish soil,” the Danish Castle Centre said.
“With the use of modern archaeological methods the scientists and archaeologists will investigate how the fortresses were used, how they were organised, how quickly they were built, their age and what environment, landscape and geography they were a part of.”
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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Lewis chessmen might be Icelandic in origin


Carbon dating of walrus bones found in Snæfellsnes peninsula indicates that the bones are at least 2000 years old. A large number of walrus skulls and walrus tusks have been found around Garðafjara beach on the south coast Snæfellsnes. The first skull was discovered 1884. All in all the bones of 50 walruses have been found, most in the past 50 years. Biologists argue this indicates Snæfellsnes was the home of a sizable walrus colony prior to the settlement of Iceland. 


The Lewis Chessmen: A ferocius berserker (rook), a stern king  and a contemplative queen 
[Credit: WikiCommons] 

A previous theory, explaining the concentration of bone discoveries, speculated they came from the wreck of a ship which had been carrying walrus bones to Europe. However, the existence of a large walrus colony in Iceland would have meant the accumulation of walrus skeletons and skulls which would have been discovered by the Viking age settlers of Iceland. 

Hilmar J. Malmquist, the chief of the Icelandic Natural History Museum points out in an interview with the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that such graveyards of walrus bones could also explain references to walruses in Icelandic place names, shedding light on the possible use of walrus ivory by the early settlers of Iceland who could have had access to domestic ivory found in such bone yards.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

Viking treasure hoard unearthed in Wales


A hoard of historic Viking treasure has been unearthed near Caernarfon in Gwynedd, Wales. The haul, which includes ancient ingots and fragments of coins dating back almost a thousand years to the time of King Cnut the Great, was found by treasure hunter Walter Hanks from Llanllyfni using a metal detector in Llandwrog back in March. 


Part of the hoard of Viking silver found near Caernarfon  [Credit: Robin Maggs] A total of fourteen silver pennies produced at Dublin under the Hiberno-Scandinavian ruler Sihtric Anlafsson (989-1036), which archeologists say are rarely found on the British mainland, also make up part of the find. Eight of the coins date back to A.D. 995 while the other six were believed to have been produced in A.D 1018. 

Experts believe that the hoard was purposely buried in the ground between 1020 and 1030 in a bid to store the silver - and could even have been used as part of a burial ritual. Earlier today, the astonishing discovery was officially declared treasure by the North West Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones during an inquest at Caernarfon.

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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. 

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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.
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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.
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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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