Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Greenland’s Viking settlers gorged on seals

The findings challenge the prevailing view of the Norse as farmers that would have stubbornly stuck to agriculture until they lost the battle with Greenland’s environment. These new results shake-up the traditional view of the Norse as farmers and have given archaeologists reason to rethink those theories.

“The Norse thought of themselves as farmers that cultivated the land and kept animals. But the archaeological evidence shows that they kept fewer and fewer animals, such as goats and sheep. So the farming identity was actually more a mental self-image, held in place by an over-class that maintained power through agriculture and land ownership, than it was a reality for ordinary people that were hardly picky eaters,” Jette Arneborg, archaeologist and curator at the National Museum of Denmark, says.

The first Norse settlers brought agriculture and livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs from Iceland. While they thought of themselves as farmers, they were not unfamiliar with hunting.

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Norwegian Vikings grew hemp

Remnants of the Iron Age Sosteli farm in Vest-Agder County, Norway's southernmost. Hemp was cultivated here even before the Viking Age. (Photo: Morten Teinum/Visit Sørlandet)

The Sosteli farmsted, in Norway's southermmost Vest-Agder County, offers strong evidence that Vikings farmers actively cultivated cannabis, a recent analysis shows. The cannabis remains from the farmsted date from 650 AD to 800 AD.

This is not the first sign of hemp cultivation in Norway this far back in time, but the find is much more extensive than previous discoveries.

“The other instances were just individual finds of pollen grains. Much more has been found here,” says Frans-Arne Stylegar, an archaeologist and the county's curator.
Rope and textiles
Sosteli is also further away from current-day settlements than other sites where cannabis finds have been made.

Hemp is the same plant as cannabis, or marijuana. But nothing indicates that the Vikings cultivated the plant to get people high.

Most likely it was grown for making textiles and rope.

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Sunday, 16 December 2012

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Now is the time to enrol for Hilary term online courses in Archaeology.

Each courses lasts for 10 weeks, with the expectation of c. 10 hours study a week.  Students submit two short assignments.   

Successful completion of the courses carries a credit of 10 CATS Points.

CATS Points from these courses can now be used as part of the requirement for the new Certificate in Higher Education offered by the University of Oxford.

The following courses are available: (click on the title for further information)

Greek Mythology                  Origins of Human Behaviour               Pompey and the cities                                                                                                         of the Roman World

Ritual and Religion in Prehistory                          Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

You can find general information about University of Oxford courses here...

The last battle of the Vikings

The Battle of Largs was the last time a Norwegian military force attacked Scotland
It was the battle which led to the end of Viking influence over Scotland, when a terrifying armada from Norway bore down on the Ayrshire town of Largs 750 years ago.

At the beginning of the 13th century the Firth of Clyde was frontier territory.

The mainland was Scottish but the islands of Bute and Cumbrae just across from Largs were Norse.
In fact, the whole of the Hebrides - a region known as Innse Gall - gave its allegiance to the Vikings from western Norway.

"It was a war just waiting to happen," says underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson.

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Helmets, Viking gold and Royal boars: Portable Antiquities Scheme releases 2011 report

Nearly 100,000 archaeological discoveries – ranging from Roman helmets to Viking gold – were made during 2011, according to the annual report by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

In a typically eventful year of soil digging, including primetime exposure for the Scheme’s greatest breakthroughs on the ITV series Secret Treasures, the official figures show an eight percent rise in finds, with a total of 970 Treasure cases.

Huge online interest also saw the accompanying website, finds.org.uk, honoured as the best research and online collection at the Best of the Web awards, with more than 463,000 people looking at 820,000 finds on the database of discoveries.

“It is a scheme which is envied the world over,” said Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum, praising the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Treasure Hunting magazine, the appropriately-named periodical which published the report.

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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Ottawa researcher’s firing derails Viking project

This should be the best of times for Pat Sutherland. November’s issue of National Geographic magazine and a documentary airing Thursday night on CBC’s The Nature of Things both highlight research the Ottawa archeologist has been doing in the Canadian Arctic for the past dozen years that could fundamentally alter our understanding of our early history.

If Sutherland is right, Norse seafarers — popularly known as Vikings — built an outpost on Baffin Island, now called Nanook, centuries before Columbus blundered on to North America. Moreover, there’s evidence they traded with the Dorset, the Arctic’s ancient, now-vanished inhabitants, for as many as 400 years.

”That’s incredible,” says Andrew Gregg, who wrote, directed and produced The Norse: An Arctic Mystery, the CBC documentary that recounts Sutherland’s findings. “That rewrites all the history books.”

But Sutherland’s pleasure at the recognition her discoveries are receiving has been sharply tempered by a harsh reality. Last April, even as the documentary about her work was being filmed, the 63-year-old, then curator of Arctic archeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, was abruptly dismissed from her job.

At the same time, museum officials also stripped her husband, Robert McGhee — himself a legendary Arctic archeologist described as “one of the most eminent scholars that Canada has produced” — of the emeritus status it had granted him after his retirement from the Gatineau museum in 2008.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How Vikings killed time

The Vikings played ball, lifted stones and wrestled. Often the games turned violent and bloody, occasionally resulting in death.

When Viking men played their games, the women watched - except in drinking games. This is a scene from at saga play in Steigen, Norway. (Photo: Mari Pedersen)

Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.

In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.

The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012.

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Greenland's viking settlers gorged on seals

Archaeologists dig up skeletons of Norse settlers  in 2010 at the Norse farm Ø64, 
Igaliku Fjord,  Østerbygden, Greenland. Photo: Jette Arneborg


Greenland's viking settlers, the Norse, disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from Greenland about 500 years ago. Natural disasters, climate change and the inability to adapt have all been proposed as theories to explain their disappearance. But now a Danish-Canadian research team has demonstrated the Norse society did not die out due to an inability to adapt to the Greenlandic diet: an isotopic analysis of their bones shows they ate plenty of seals.

“Our analysis shows that the Norse in Greenland ate lots of food from the sea, especially seals,” says Jan Heinemeier, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University.

“Even though the Norse are traditionally thought of as farmers, they adapted quickly to the Arctic environment and the unique hunting opportunities. During the period they were in Greenland, the Norse ate gradually more seals. By the 14th century, seals made up between 50 and 80 per cent of their diet.”

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Summer Courses in Archaeology

Oxford Experience Archaeology Courses

The Oxford Experience Summer School offers weekly introductory courses in the Sciences and Humanities.  Participants stay in Christ Church, the largest and one of the most beautiful Oxford Colleges.

You can find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Should we keep the Vikings’ stolen goods?

Made in Scotland or Ireland toward the end of the eighth century, the original purpose of Ranvaik’s chest had been to house the bones of a Christian saint. 
(Photo: National Museum of Denmark)

Ranvaik’s golden chest was made in Ireland or Scotland toward the end of the eighth century and originates from a church or a monastery.

"Ranvaik owns this shrine" the inscription on the bottom reads, as a strong indication that it later came to belong to a noble Viking lady named Ranvaik.

Archaeologists believe that the shrine, which can be admired at the Danish National Museum, is stolen property from the Viking Age.

”Viking Age objects that come from churches and monasteries can best be explained as loot from the raids which made the Vikings notorious in the Christian world,” explains Maria Panum Baastrup, an archaeologist at the National Museum’s Prehistoric Collection.

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Viking skeleton found in Wales

A skeleton of a Viking has been discovered by archaeologists at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey. Scientists from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, who made the discovery believe it will shed new light on the interaction between Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking-age worlds operating around the Irish Sea. 

The skeleton find is an unexpected addition to a group of five (two adolescents, two adult males and one woman) discovered in 1998-99.  Originally thought to be victims of Viking raiding, which began in the 850s, this interpretation is now being revised. Tests by Dr Katie Hemer of Sheffield University indicates that the males were not local to Anglesey, but may have spent their early years (at least up to the age of seven) in North West Scotland or Scandinavia. 

The Llanbedrgoch site was discovered in 1994 after a number of metal detector finds had been brought to the museum for identification. These included an Anglo-Saxon penny of Cynethryth (struck AD 787-792), a penny of Wulfred of Canterbury (struck about AD 810), and three lead weights of Viking type.

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Monday, 22 October 2012

Evidence of Viking Outpost Found in Canada

Archaeologist Patricia Sutherland (orange jacket) excavates a potential Viking site on 
Baffin Island.

For the past 50 years—since the discovery of a thousand-year-old Viking way station in Newfoundland—archaeologists and amateur historians have combed North America's east coast searching for traces of Viking visitors.

It has been a long, fruitless quest, littered with bizarre claims and embarrassing failures. But at a conference in Canada earlier this month, archaeologist Patricia Sutherland announced new evidence that points strongly to the discovery of the second Viking outpost ever discovered in the Americas.

(Read the new National Geographic magazine feature "Vikings and Native Americans: Face-to-Face.")

While digging in the ruins of a centuries-old building on Baffin Island (map), far above the Arctic Circle, a team led by Sutherland, adjunct professor of archaeology at Memorial University in Newfoundland and a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, found some very intriguing whetstones. Wear grooves in the blade-sharpening tools bear traces of copper alloys such as bronze—materials known to have been made by Viking metalsmiths but unknown among the Arctic's native inhabitants.

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Monday, 15 October 2012

Wanted! Limerick men with Viking blood for tests

Limerick: known to have been a vital Viking trading centre

IF you ever wondered whether you are you descended from the Vikings or the Normans, now is the time to find out.

A network of academics led by Dr Catherine Swift of Mary Immaculate College, and Dr Turi King of the Department of Genetics, University of Leicester are using scientific techniques and the traditional tools of the historian in an attempt to identify what percentage of the Irish population are descended from Vikings. 

Volunteers with certain surnames - including English, Stokes and Noonan, amongst many others - will be tested at Fennessey’s pub, New Street, Sunday, October 21, at 12 noon. 

“Limerick is a very interesting location for our project as it is known to be a vital Viking trading centre,” said Dr Swift.

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Letter from Iceland: Surviving the Little Ice Age

Excavations at the ancient farm of Hjalmarvik are providing detailed insights into the ways Icelanders adapted to changing climatic conditions. (Zach Zorich)

Stefán Ólafsson of the Icelandic Archaeological Institute and Céline Dupont Hébert of Laval University, Quebec City, are the crew chiefs of a team of archaeologists with the unglamorous job of excavating a garbage dump at Hjalmarvik, an ancient farm on the northeastern coast of Iceland. Their approximately 9-by-12-foot excavation trench sits just outside what was a sod-walled farmhouse that may date back to the years shortly after 871, when Iceland was first settled by groups of Vikings from Norway. Today, the remains of the house are no more than a flat spot on the ground overlooking a small bay a few hundred yards to the west. The excavation of the garbage dump, or midden, is revealing a detailed record of life at the farm and provides clues to how its residents handled the severe challenges the island faced during an extended period of climatic disruption. 

The walls of the trench are striped with orange peat ash, probably discarded when the hearth inside the house was cleaned. Although the crew has uncovered interesting whalebone carvings—some decorated with images and others that were used as gaming pieces—the most common items found in the trench are the discarded bones of the animals eaten by Hjalmarvik’s residents. Laboratory analysis of the bones has not yet begun, but at first glance it looks like most of the food they were eating came from the surrounding ocean.

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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Archaeology Summer Courses in Oxford

The Oxford Experience, Christ Church, Oxford

The Oxford Experience summer school offers one-week introductory classes in the humanities and sciences, including a number of archaeology courses.

You can find details of the Oxford Experience summer school here...

You can find a list of the archaeology courses here...

You may be particularly interested in this course: The World of the Vikings

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Vikings Project Curator

Job Description: The British Museum
Prehistory and Europe Department
Project Curator: Vikings
Fixed-term for 18 months
£22,907 per annum pro rata
Ref: 1283403

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Oxford Experience on Facebook

The Oxford Experience - an Oxford University summer school that offers many courses in archaeology and history - now has a Facebook site.

You can find the site at: www.facebook.com/OxfordExperience

You can find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Monday, 1 October 2012

Stinging nettles reveal Bronze Age trade routes

A piece of nettle cloth retrieved from Denmark's richest known Bronze Age burial mound Lusehøj may actually derive from Austria, new findings suggest. The cloth thus tells a surprising story about long-distance Bronze Age trade connections around 800 BC.

2,800 years ago, one of Denmark's richest and most powerful men died. His body was burned. And the bereaved wrapped his bones in a cloth made from stinging nettle and put them in a stately bronze container, which also functioned as urn.

Now new findings suggest that the man's voyage to his final resting place may have been longer than such voyages usually were during the Bronze Age: the nettle cloth, which was wrapped around the deceased's bones, was not made in Denmark, and the evidence points to present-day Austria as the place of origin.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mystery endures over millennium-year-old graves

The excavation at Bodzia: photo - Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences [Credit: PAN]

Archaeologists remain mystified and spellbound by a thousand-year-old cemetery with Viking traits discovered near the village of Bodzia in central Poland.

“Nothing similar has ever been found before,” said Professor Andrzej Buko of the Polish Academy of Sciences on Monday, in an interview with Polish Radio.

The excavations at the site took place between 2007-2009, in conjunction with the laying of the A1 motorway.

Some 57 graves were found, yet the funeral rites betray an unexpected mixture of traits, taking in Scandinavian, Slavic, Moravian and Byzantine traditions.

Particularly intriguing was the grave of a young warrior of about 25 years of age.

He was buried in a foetal position, north to south, clutching an ornate silver sword, echoing Viking traditions.

Yet objects found by the man suggest a provenance from Kievan Rus, a state that disintegrated in the 13th century.

Was the man a Viking warrior, hired by the one of the rulers of Kievan Rus?

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

The English inspired Vikings to build cities

St. Jørgensbjerg Church in Roskilde was built in 1080 – by English builders? (Photo: Ib Rasmussen)

The first cities and churches in medieval Denmark were probably inspired by the English, sources show. A historian sheds light on how the English influenced the Vikings, culturally as well as politically.

When Danish Vikings sailed across the North Sea and conquered England, they left their mark on the English language and place names. That’s common knowledge, at least to historians.

What’s perhaps less known is that the influence cut both ways. Although England was under Danish rule in the Viking Age, the English were culturally and politically more sophisticated than their neighbours to the east.

Historian Marie Bønløkke Spejlborg was one of the more than 300 Norse mythology researchers who attended the 15th International Saga Conference held recently in Aarhus, Denmark.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

'Eggs, legs and Grimsby' - Viking words we still use

The influence of the Vikings who came to Britain can still be heard more than 1,000 years later in the English language.

They didn't just loot and leave, at the end of the 9th Century there were large settlements of Scandinavians throughout the country. 

Dr Richard Dance, of Cambridge University, tells Neil Oliver the words and places whose origins can be traced back to the Vikings.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Vikings were “first to begin criminal profiling”, historian says

The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson tells the story of a tenth-century Viking warrior who took part in raids in Europe and often fought with his own neighbours in Iceland. When his life’s story was written in the thirteenth-century, was the author using him as an example of the type of man that society had to worry about?

Tarrin Wills, a researcher from the University of Aberdeen, believes that Viking societies themselves were deeply concerned about these violent and unpredictable individuals – so much so that they took on the role of early criminal profilers – drafting descriptions of the most likely trouble-makers.

Wills presented his research yesterday to the British Science Festival, one of Europe’s largest science festivals. It is being held this year in Aberdeen and is expecting to attract over 50,000 people for its talks, discussions and workshops.

After examining the Icelandic sagas, Wills believes that its authors pinpointed physical characteristics of high testosterone levels – known to cause violent behaviour – creating some of the earliest ‘criminal mugshots’.

Forget Crimewatch – the Vikings were there first

We think of Vikings as highly aggressive raiders who ravished Europe in the Early Middle Ages but how could these men be controlled when they returned to their homeland after plundering other countries?

A researcher from the University of Aberdeen, who presented today at the British Science Festival, suggested this is a problem Viking societies themselves were deeply concerned about – so much so that they took on the role of early criminal profilers – drafting descriptions of the most likely trouble-makers.

Dr Tarrin Wills, from the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, has examined early Icelandic literature and discovered that its authors pinpointed physical characteristics of high testosterone levels – known to cause violent behaviour – creating some of the earliest ‘criminal mugshots’.

Dr Wills, whose work is published in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia began investigating the link between Viking behaviour and levels of testosterone after reading an article about hormones and city traders.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bornais finds shed light on Iron Age and Viking life

Animal bones used in games and potentially in rituals to predict the future were found at Bornais

Powerful figures from the late Iron Age through to the end of the Vikings were drawn to a sandy plain on South Uist, according to archaeologists.

Bornais, on the west side of the island, has the remains of a large farmstead and a major Norse settlement.

The area has produced large numbers of finds, including what have been described as exotic items from abroad.

Green marble from Greece, ivory from Greenland and bronze pins from Ireland have been among the finds.

A piece of bone marked with an ogham inscription, an ancient text that arrived in Scotland from Ireland, was also found.

Archaeologists said the items provided a detailed picture of life in the first millennium AD.

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Saturday, 18 August 2012


This is the first skull from the 2012 dig with a mortal wound caused by a spear or an arrow

This is the first skull from the 2012 dig with a mortal wound caused by a spear or an arrow. Credit: Curator Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum


‘It’s clear that this must have been a quite far-reaching and dramatic event that must have had profound effect on the society of the time,’ explains Project Manager Mads Kähler Holst, professor of archaeology at Aarhus University.

For almost two months now, Dr Holst and a team of fifteen archaeologists and geologists have been working to excavate the remains of a large army that was sacrificed at the site around the time of the birth of Christ. The skeletal remains of hundreds of warriors lie buried in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark.

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Lost Viking Military Town Unearthed in Germany?

A battle-scarred, eighth-century town unearthed in northern Germany may be the earliest Viking settlement in the historical record, archaeologists announced recently.

 Ongoing excavations at Füsing (map), near the Danish border, link the site to the "lost" Viking town of Sliasthorp—first recorded in A.D. 804 by royal scribes of the powerful Frankish ruler Charlemagne. Used as a military base by the earliest Scandinavian kings, Sliasthorp's location was unknown until now, said dig leader Andres Dobat, of Aarhus University in Denmark.

 Whether it proves to be the historic town or not, the site offers valuable insights into military organization and town planning in the early Viking era, according to the study team. Some 30 buildings have been uncovered since excavations began in 2010.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Medieval silver treasure found on Gotland

A silver treasure from the 12th century has been found on the Baltic island Gotland, where over 600 pieces of silver coins have been unearthed, according to reports in local media.

"This is an amazing find. It’s unbelievable that treasures of this scale exist here on Gotland,” Marie Louise Hellquist of Gotland’s County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) told local newspaper Hela Gotland.

The medieval treasure was uncovered last Monday, as the landowner was moving soil. Some 500 pieces of coin were discovered in the field, and following further searches conducted once archaeologists arrived on Wednesday, that figure has swollen considerably.

“In total we’ve reached 650 pieces, so far,” Hellquist said.

Silver coins were not the only items discovered, as both jewellery and a raw silver artefact, which archaeologists believe to be part of an ancient axe, have been found at the site.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Denmark’s past viewed from above

This field once housed a large Viking settlement. The centre of the picture shows vestiges of a Viking Age house with long curved walls. Other remnant houses are also visible in the cornfield, along with vestiges of pit houses.

There’s a lot to learn about the past by studying the land from high above. See a series of stunning aerial archaeology photos here.

Since 2009 archaeologists have been using small aircraft to map nine areas in Denmark that are of particular interest to archaeologists and historians.

The project is called 'The past as viewed from the sky – air archaeology in Denmark' and will initially run until 2013.

But what can aerial photos possibly tell us about the past?

What Vikings really looked like

Were Vikings really dirty savages who wore horned helmets, or did they look like we do today? Here’s what the experts say.

There’s no shortage of myths about the appearance of our notorious Viking ancestors.

To find out more about these myths, ScienceNordic’s Danish partner site, videnskab.dk, asked its Facebook readers to list their favourite myths about what the Vikings looked like.

We have picked out five myths from the resulting debate and asked researchers to help us confirm or bust these myths.
Armed with this information, our graphic designer then took a shot at drawing some examples of our infamous forefathers, which you can see in our picture gallery.

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Fant 1500 år gammelt hus som trolig tilhørte høvding

Det er oppdaget seks flatmarksgraver i området som skal graves ut i ukene som kommer. Det mørke feltet i bakken viser en av dem.
FOTO: Cato Guhnfeldt

Det 1500 år gamle jernalderhuset hadde et monumentalt inngangsparti med stor trapp. Dette ble i forrige uke gravd frem av arkeologer.

Bygningen er den største som er avdekket i Rogaland i løpet av de siste tiårene, i et område hvor det har stått i alt 30-35 bygninger og bodd mennesker i minst 1000 år. De levde av jordbruk, dernest fangst og fiske foruten handel.

Minst ni innganger

- Da vi hadde avdekket høvdingbygningen i en lengde av 50 meter, steg pulsen. Da vi passerte 60 meter, begynte vi å se på hverandre. Hva i all verden var dette? forteller utgravningsleder Even Bjørdal fra Arkeologisk museum/Universitetet i Stavanger.
Den avdekkede kjempebygningen er et såkalt treskipet stolpehus. 65 meter langt, 7 meter bredt, med minst ni innganger, kanskje flere, har bygningen vært brukt som bolig, til fest og matlaging, trolig også til produksjon av metallgjenstander som bronsesmykker og redskaper/våpen.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Christian Vikings

Christian burials in Ribe in Denmark have been dated to mid 9th century

Danish Archaeologists have been busy digging around the old Cathedral in Ribe for several years. Here lies a cemetery, which was abandoned about 1050. The sensational character of the find has however more to do with the fact, that the earliest graves have been dated to around 850 – more than a 100 years before Denmark was officially Christianised according to the famous rune-stone of Harold Bluetooth in Jellinge.

All in all the archaeologists believe there were between 1500 -2000 graves in the cemetery of which at least 60 (and probably 75) belong to the earliest phase. The dead persons have been buried in a number of different types of caskets made of wood, one of which may even have been a small boat. However, the graves are all pointing towards East and no grave-goods have been found. Strontium analysis has shown that the buried persons grew up locally.

Viking boat bid for Barrow Dock Museum funds

"Vikings" are taking to the water to raise money for a south Cumbria museum hoping to house a newly-acquired treasure hoard.

A metal detector enthusiast found Viking silver coins and ingots near Stainton, Dalton, in 2010.

Barrow Dock Museum raised £50,000 to buy the hoard, and now wants to build a special Viking gallery.
Re-enactor warriors are rowing a replica longboat around Derwent Water to raise the cash.

The team, from Herlid Vikings group, will set off from Lodore to the Keswick boat landing, where they will hold a combat display.

Fant Håkon Håkonssons kongsgård

Arkeologer har funnet restene av en kongsgård som tilhørte Håkon Håkonsson. Funnet på Avaldsnes blir betegnet som en sensasjon.

– Dette er den eneste kongsgården fra middelalderen på landsbygda vi vet om. Det var en kjempeoverraskelse for oss å finne dette og et utrolig flott funn, sier professor i arkeologi ved Universitetet i Oslo, Dagfinn Skree.

Arkeologene har lenge vært sikre på at konger har holdt til på det historiske området på Avaldsnes i Karmøy kommune.

Under sommerens utgravinger på Avaldsnes er det gjort en rekke funn. Kongsgåden er det desidert største.
Arkeologene tror kongsgården ble bygget i andre halvdel av 1200-tallet.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Viking burial exhibit in York

The Jorvik Viking Centre in York has launched its exhibition Valhalla: Examining Viking Burials in the British Isles, open now until the 5th November.

The result of York Archaeological Trust's collaboration with York Minster and Manx National Heritage brings together key Viking burial findings and explores the latest archaeological research techniques.

The exhibition will display two Viking-age skeletons from the Hungate excavation in York and a replica of Thorwald's Cross, which is thought to depict the transition of the Viking world of pagan beliefs to the introduction of Christianity.

Groups can also discover how excavations reveal the way Vikings commemorated and celebrated their dead using pagan boat burials, grave goods and ornately carved headstones, such as those found in excavations at York Minster.

In addition, the story of a Viking man buried in the Balladoole ship burial will be told using forensic science and state-of-the-art facial reconstruction.

Valhalla: In Search Of The Viking Dead

Historical artefacts revealing how the Vikings celebrated and commemorated their dead have gone on display in York. 

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at Jorvik with a skeleton at Valhalla [Credit: The Press] The Valhalla exhibition displaying artefacts from excavations in York and the Isle of Man has opened thanks to York Archaeological Trust. 

The exhibition, which is the result of collaboration with York Minster and Manx National Heritage, brings together burial findings and the latest archaeological research techniques to examine. 

It includes two Viking-age skeletons from the Hungate excavation in York, which have been the subject of pathological research from York Osteoarchaeology in a bid to uncover more about who they were. 

Visitors can also see a replica of Thorwald's Cross, which is thought to depict the transition from the Viking's pagan belief system to Christianity.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

It's Viking heaven at York's Jorvik as Valhalla goes in search of dead Norsemen

A detail from Thorwald's Cross, found on the Isle of Man.
© Photograph John Caley, 2009 Manx National Heritage

Exhibition: Valhalla: In Search of the Viking Dead, Jorvik Viking Centre, York, until November 5 2012

Valhalla; it's a word synonymous with the blood curdling, axe-wielding world of the Vikings and their peculiar belief in an afterlife where fallen Norse warriors drank, ate and caroused wildly with their god Odin.

Little wonder, then, that the Vikings placed great importance on the funerary arrangements that would transport them to this alluring version of the pagan afterlife.

This new exhibition, organised by Manx National Heritage, York Minster and the York Archaeological Trust, lifts the lid on this Viking paradise by looking at Viking burials, artworks, carvings and tapestries from across the British Isles as well as the advanced archaeological techniques employed to unearth and interpret them.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rowing like Vikings in the name of science

A Viking museum in the German town of Busdorf has welcomed the largest reconstruction of a medieval long-ship, the Havhingsten, or Sea Stallion.

30 metres long and using only the technology available a thousand years ago, it sailed from Denmark to participate in a festival of square rigged ships.

The gruelling experience of its crew of 60 allowed experts to gain insights into the life of Viking seamen.

More Viking-Era Artifacts Surface in Salme Dig

An archaeological excavation that resumed last week in Salme on the island of Saaremaa, a site where ancient ships were previously found has turned up more Viking-era ship rivets and sword fragments. 

"We don't have any major discoveries and finds to report yet, but we have received confirmation in the course of the work that they may come," archaeologist Jüri Peets told the island daily Meie Maa.

"We have reached the sixth soil layer and right on the first day we found two rivets that are from the same era as the Viking ships. They are exactly the same kind and size that we have found in the past."

Museum Confirms Salme Find as Oldest Known Viking Sailing Ship

The Estonian Maritime Museum's research says one of the ancient ships found in archeological excavations in Salme in 2008 was was so seaworthy that it could have been used as a sailed warship on the open sea.

"The Maritime Museum believes that the Salme ship number two was an advanced Viking type of ship whose very good seaworthiness allowed it to be used as a sailed warship," said marine archaeologist Vello Mäss.

That means that open-sea sailing started in the Baltic Sea region earlier than thought, Saarte Hääl reported, quoting the popular science magazine Imeline Teadus.

Mäss added that the smaller Salme ship that was discovered first was not meant to bear a sail.