Sunday, 29 January 2012

Vikings Explore Hudson Bay

Viking exploration of Hudson Bay will continue in 2013 when descendants of the first Viking voyagers to reach North America 1,000 years ago sail into the Arctic from Churchill, Manitoba.

Jóhann Straumfjord Sigurdson and David Collette, whose ancestral grandmother was Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir, the mother of Snorri, the first European child born in North America, will sail from Canada to Iceland along a route that was old before Christopher Columbus was born.

“We’ve named the expedition Fara Heim”, said Jóhann Sigurdson. “In Old Norse, “að fara heim” means “to go home”. We are searching for Norse presence in the Arctic between Hudson Bay and west of Greenland to investigate how far West the Vikings explored”. The team will use non-damaging modern techniques to collect data and do no harm to artefacts or locations found. All information and any discoveries will be digitally recorded and shared with government agencies for formal archaeological investigation.

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Evidence suggests Vikings grew grain in south Greenland

Archaeologists from the Danish national museum have finally succeeded in confirming that Erik the Red and his people could indeed brew beer in Greenland when they lived there.

There has long been a question mark over whether or not the southern Greenlandic climate was warm enough in Viking times to grow grain for beer, mead, gruel and bread.

Now Danish archaeologists have found remains of burnt barley in a dunghill from the time when Erik the Red and other Icelanders moved to Greenland. The find is the first evidence of corn cultivation in southern Greenland a thousand years ago.

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Archaeology Courses at the Oxford Experience 2012

The Oxford Experience Summer School

1 July to 11 August 2012

The 2012 Oxford Experience Programme is now online.

The Oxford Experience is a residential summer school held at the college of Christ Church, University of Oxford.

The programme consists of 6 weeks of courses and participants attend for one or more weeks.
It offers a choice of twelve seminars each week over a period of five weeks. Participants do not need any formal qualifications to take part, just an interest in their chosen subject and a desire to meet like-minded people.

You can also find details of the various archaeology courses offered at Oxford Experience here...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mass grave belonged to Viking mercenaries

The burial site, containing the bodies of 54 young men, was unearthed at Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth in 2009 ahead of the construction of a new road, but the identity of the bodies within has mystified experts.
Because the men's severed heads were piled up on one side of the pit, it was assumed they had been the unfortunate victims of a mass execution.
Radiocarbon dating showed that the men had been killed some time around the year 1000, and isotope testing on their teeth found that they were from Scandinavia, suggesting they may have been Viking invaders.
Now an archaeologist from Cambridge University has put forward a theory that the men were a gang of Viking mercenaries who were murdered on the order of the English king Aethelred II.

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The Viking death squads who got a taste of their own medicine: Mass grave shows how the Anglo-Saxons hit back at invaders

A mass grave found in Dorset contains the bodies of an elite ‘hit squad’ of invading Viking warriors, experts claim. 

All decapitated and buried alongside their severed heads, the 54 skeletons were discovered in 2009 by workmen digging a road.

Archaeologists dated their bones to around the year 1,000 but had few other clues as to the identities of the men who met such a sticky end.

Now a researcher at Cambridge University claims to have pieced the story together in a documentary to be screened tonight.

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Viking mass grave linked to elite killers of the medieval world

A crew of Viking mercenaries – some of the fiercest and most feared killers in the medieval world – could be the occupants of a mysterious in the south of England, according to a new theory.

The intriguing hypothesis is being put forward in a documentary, Viking Apocalypse, which will premiere on National Geographic UK on Wednesday, 25 January, and attempts to piece together the identities of a group of men who were apparently the victims of a horrific mass execution around the turn of the 11th century.

Their burial pit, at Ridgeway Hill, Dorset, was found in 2009 while archaeologists were working in the area ahead of the construction of a new road. In it, researchers made the gruesome discovery of the decapitated bodies of 54 young men. All had been dumped in the shallow grave, and their heads had been piled up on the far side.

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Skeletons found in Dorset mass grave 'were mercenaries'

A mass grave in Dorset containing 54 decapitated skeletons was a burial ground for violent Viking mercenaries, according to a Cambridge archaeologist. 

The burial site at Ridgeway Hill was discovered in 2009.

Archaeologists found the bodies of 54 men who had all been decapitated and placed in shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.

Carbon dating and isotype tests revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and dated from the 11th Century.

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Archaeologists dig spot where hoard was found

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have examined the secret Furness site where a hoard of silver Viking booty was unearthed by a metal detectorist. 

In Easter last year a local enthusiast discovered 92 pieces, made up of a number of very rare silver coins and assorted artifacts.

The hoard, dated to around 955, was officially declared treasure in September.

It has been described as “the missing link” by experts, who say it is the long-awaited evidence of a material culture of the 9th and 10th Century Vikings who settled in the Furness peninsula.

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Outreach and widening participation

Applications are now open for our annual Sutton Trust Summer School in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, which will take place on 13th-17th August. The Sutton Trust is an organisation which seeks to promote social mobility through education, and each year participants in our Summer School are given the opportunity to experience life as a Cambridge undergraduate: staying in a College, attending lectures and seminars, and receiving one-to-one or small group 'supervisions' on the languages, literatures, and history of medieval Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. More information on how to apply is available via the University's webpages.

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Monday, 23 January 2012

Researchers collect DNA from men with possible links to York’s Viking past

MEN with Viking surnames filled the meeting room of New Earswick Folk Hall and queued to help research into the ethnic origins of the British people.

Academics were collecting DNA from men with Viking names to see if they are directly descended from the Scandanavian traders and seaman who once ruled York and Yorkshire.

It was the first of four gatherings across northern England and followed a public appeal for people with Viking surnames to come forward.

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Viking king discovery claims

AN amateur historian from Yorkshire claims to have discovered a new Viking king of York.

Musician and poet Damian Bullen has developed a theory after reading about the Silverdale Haul, a collection of coins and jewellery found in Lancashire in September, of similar designs to coins from about 900AD.

One of the Medieval coins has a design which has never been seen before, and carried the name Airdeconut, believed to be a derivation of Harthacnut, an early king of England and Denmark.

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Archaeologists hunt for Viking heritage in Sherwood Forest

The land surrounding a mysterious ancient monument in Sherwood Forest is to be researched after a local history group received a £50,000 lottery grant.

A Thynghowe or Thing, an open-air meeting place where Vikings gathered to discuss the law, was discovered in Sherwood Forest seven years ago.

Experts surveyed the site this year and suggested the wider area be looked at.

The Friends of Thynghowe now plan to search for further evidence of Vikings including a "court circle".

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