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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Thursday, 20 November 2014

A peek inside a Viking piggybank: CT scans of treasure chest reveal hidden brooches, gold ingots and ivory beads


Derek McLennan found more than 100 objects in Dumfries in September
In addition to the pot, hoard includes jewellery, arm bands and silver ingots
The pot was investigated using a CT scanner at Borders General Hospital
It revealed silver broaches, gold ingots and ivory beads 
Location of the find isn't being revealed until excavations have taken place

The mystery surrounding the contents of a Viking pot has been solved after researchers carried out a CT scan on the ancient artefact.
Archaeologists had been unable to open the pot to see what was inside, but its weight suggested it was full of treasure.  
After undergoing a series of scans, the 1,200-year-old pot was found to contain up to at least five silver brooches and an ornate bead. 

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Scanning the Viking Hoard




The recently discovered Viking Hoard in Dumfries is arguably the most significant archaeological find in Scotland in the last 100 years. Watch as we get the first glimpses of a pot which has lain undisturbed for over 1,000 years, courtesy of a CT scanning machine.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

14th century birch bark scrolls preserved in mud tell Novgorod’s story


Anote, from father to son in 14th century Russia was etched into the bark of a birch tree and curled into a scroll. The scroll and a dozen others like it were among the finds from this year’s digging season.
These scrolls will be added to a collection of more than 1,000 birch-bark documents uncovered in the Russian city of Novgorod, after being preserved for hundreds of years in the mud.
Send me a shirt, towel, trousers, reins, and, for my sister, send fabric,” the father, whose name was Onus, wrote to his son, Danilo, the block letters of Old Novgorod language, a precursor to Russian, neatly carved into the wood with a stylus. Onus ended with a bit of humour. “If I am alive,” he wrote, “I will pay for it.”
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Monday, 13 October 2014

Treasure hunter finds Viking hoard


A metal detector enthusiast blessed with “a magic touch” has discovered one of the most significant Viking hoards of the past century in southwest Scotland, his third outstanding find in less than a year.
Derek McLennan, 47, from Hollybush, Ayrshire, said he was stunned by his latest success, despite a track record which has seen him unearth hundreds of medieval coins at two separate sites.
This time, working in a pasture owned by the Church of Scotland, he pulled out an arm ring with a distinctive Viking pattern.
That initial find at a site in Dumfries and Galloway was made last month. In the hours and days that followed, Mr McLennan and the county archaeologist unearthed more than 100 objects, including a silver Christian cross inlaid in gold, probably from Dublin, and a large Carolingian pot complete with its lid, one of only three of its kind known in Britain.

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Monday, 29 September 2014

Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?


A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.

This illustration shows the stereotype of Viking marauders wreaking mayhem, even on clergy. The scene depicts the monastery at Clonmacnoise, Ireland.

The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the city's cathedral. "The heathens mowed down the entire multitude of priest, clerics, and laity," according to one witness account. Among the slain, allegedly killed while celebrating the Mass, was a bishop who later was granted sainthood.
To modern readers the attack seems monstrous, even by the standards of medieval warfare. But the witness account contains more than a touch of hyperbole, writes Anders Winroth, a Yale history professor and author of the book The Age of the Vikings, a sweeping new survey. What's more, he says, such exaggeration was often a feature of European writings about the Vikings.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Viking Ireland - the Videos


In order to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, the National Museum of Ireland have produced a superb set of videos depicting various aspects of Viking Age Ireland.

You can find the Museum’s Website for these videos here…

Or you can find the individual videos on Youtube:
Viking Ireland 1 – Weapons – The Axe

Viking Ireland 2 – Weapons – The Sword


Viking Ireland 3 – Viking Wealth and Trade


Viking Ireland 4 – Viking Women in Ireland


Viking Ireland 5 – Arrival of Vikings and Beliefs


Viking Ireland 6 – The Irish and the Vikings


Viking Ireland 7 – Daily Life in Viking Ireland


Viking Ireland 8 – Legacy of the Vikings in Ireland


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Viking Blacksmith’s Grave Uncovered in Norway

The weapons and tools from the grave

The spectacular remains of what appears to be a Viking grave, most likely belonging to a blacksmith, has been uncovered in Sogndalsdalen, Norway (as reported by NRK). The grave was found by Mr Leif Arne Norberg, under a series of stone slabs in his back garden. Mr Norberg had been carrying out landscaping works when he suddenly spotted a blacksmith’s tongs, followed soon afterwards by a bent sword. On closer examination it quickly became apparent that he had stumbled upon a remarkable Viking Age find. Archaeologists from Bergen University and the County’s Cultural Department were called to the scene and the remains were subsequently excavated. The finds recovered from the grave suggest that it probably dates from the 8th or 9th century AD. They included various pieces of metalwork, a tongs, a sword and an axe, all of which will be conserved before being put on display at the University Museum of Bergen. Personally I can’t wait to find out more information about this exciting discovery.

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Friday, 1 August 2014

Viking warriors and treasures are buried beneath Dublin

There are a great number of Viking warriors buried beneath Dublin say archaeologists.

A massive research project, 15 years in the making, has revealed that beneath Dublin’s modern streets lies a trove of buried Viking warriors and artifacts.
Archaeologists say the number of Viking warrior burials in Dublin is astounding. A project cataloguing these burials was began in 1999. Now nearing its conclusion, the project will result in the publication of an 800-page tome titled ‘Viking Graves and Grave Goods in Ireland.’
“As a result of our new research, Kilmainham-Islandbridge is now demonstrably the largest burial complex of its type in western Europe, Scandinavia excluded,” says Stephen Harrison, who co-wrote the catalogue with Raghnall Ó Floinn, the director of the National Museum of Ireland. The museum houses a Viking exhibition, which includes a ninth century Viking skeleton with sword and spearhead, found in the War Memorial Park, Islandbridge in 1934.
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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

'Hammer of Thor' unearthed on the Danish Island


Danish archaeologists have solved the mystery over the significance of the Mjöllnir amulets worn by the Vikings. Indeed, they represented Thor’s hammer, the researchers said. 


The rune-inscribed Mjöllnir amulet [Credit: National Museum of Denmark] 

More than 1,000 intricately carved pendants shaped like hammers have been found across Northern Europe since the first millennium A.D. 

Although it was widely believed these amulets were hammers, a debate remained over their true meaning. The objects’s unusual shape, featuring a short handle and a symmetrical head, raised doubts whether they represented something else entirely. 

Now a 10th-century Viking amulet unearthed in Købelev, on the Danish island of Lolland, has provided a definitive answer.

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’


A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.
The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.
Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough.
They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired.
It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh.
Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Preserving the Battle of Hastings from contamination


The Battle of Hastings is regularly fought all over again by enthusiastic re-enactors, before large crowds of spectators. The problem is that they are depositing material that could compromise the archaeology of the historic site. But now the University of Huddersfield's Dr Glenn Foard -- one of the world's leading battlefield archaeologists -- is developing a unique project designed to unearth whatever genuine material survives from 1066. 


The East Sussex 1066 site gets the vote as one of the world's 10 best historical re-enactments.  Hastings is described as "the most-remembered armed conflict in British history" and  the re-enactments every year now involve thousands of participants and spectators  around the world [Credit: University of Huddersfield] 

The first stage, likely to take place in spring 2015, would be to spend a week machining away the top layers of soil at a substantial area of the battlefield, in order to eliminate modern artefacts. Then there would be a search for genuine remains from the battle of 1066. 

An important dimension of the project would be public involvement. Trained archaeologists would carry out the actual survey, but there would be parallel sessions nearby, partly aimed at children and parents, which would provide insights into archaeology, including the use of metal detectors to survey a site.

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Monday, 9 June 2014

VIKING AGE REVNINGE WOMAN: AN EXCEPTIONAL FIND


newly discovered female figurine amulet from Revninge in the east of Denmark represents a very interesting find due to her remarkably detailed Viking Age dress.
On April 22, 2014, Paul Uniacke had started to explore a field near Revninge with his metal detector – several items had already been recovered when to his astonishment a small fine figurine appeared. He instantly recognised it as Viking Age and immediately contacted Østfyns Museums, who confirmed his thoughts and started the process of conservation.

New knowledge

It is not always easy to imagine how people of the Viking age really looked. However, the discovery of this small gilt silver figurine contains a wealth of detail giving new knowledge about costume and jewellery of the period.
Archaeologist Claus Feveile, Department of Landscape & Archaeology at Østfyns Museums, explained, “Small characters from the Viking period are extremely rare and Revninge-woman’s dress is incredibly detailed which will contribute to the discussion on the appearance of clothes and how they might have been worn.”

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

East Lothian skeleton may be 10th Century Irish Viking king

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with part of the East Lothian skeleton which historians believe could be an Irish Viking king

A skeleton discovered on an archaeological dig in East Lothian may be a 10th Century Irish Viking who was king of Dublin and Northumbria.
King Olaf Guthfrithsson led raids on Auldhame and nearby Tyninghame shortly before his death in 941.
The remains excavated from Auldhame in 2005 are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank.
They include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland.
The find has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that the skeleton could be that of King Olaf or one of his entourage.
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Possible Viking settlement in the Ålands found


According to archaeologists aerial infrared images suggest the existence of a late Iron Age settlement, possibly the largest such find ever in the Åland Islands or all of mainland Finland. 


The highest point of Åland Islands: summit of Orrdalsklint, in Saltvik 
[Credit: RainoL/Panoramio] 

The aerial imaging highlighted a depression 40 metres deep and 12 metres wide which might have been the site of a massive hall used to host gatherings of ancient Vikings. No other similar find of this size has ever been discovered in the Åland of on the Finnish mainland. 

The imaging project followed observations of depressions which resembled the outlines of late Iron Age structures from other parts of Scandinavia. Once the images revealed the outline of the hall, cautious excavation turned up personal ornaments cast in silver and bronze, and which point to the site as an important location in the Viking world.

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