Friday, 31 January 2014
Iron axe-head found in the Thames at Hammersmith, Viking, 10th-11th century (1909,0626.8)
Tom Williams, Project Curator: Vikings, British Museum
Several years ago I worked at the Tower of London. Spending long periods of time within a building of such age, I would often start to wonder about how the area would have looked before the castle was built. Every morning I would pass the remains of Roman walls at Tower Bridge station, walls that were repaired and refortified by King Alfred the Great in response to the very real threat of Viking raids from the river. Blotting out the great hulk of HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the modern office blocks that now crowd the banks, I would try to imagine the awe and the terror that a Londoner would have felt a thousand years ago, standing on the city walls, watching the carved and gilded prows of dragon ships silently gliding up the Thames. Viking fleets and armies raided and besieged the city on numerous occasions, and the river has given up dozens of weapons that might have ended up there as a result of those conflicts.Read the rest of this article...
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
The sarcophagus dates back to about AD 900
A unique collection of Viking-age monuments, which lay unloved in a Govan churchyard for 1,000 years, has attracted the attention of the British Museum. Its curator said the Govan Stones was one of the best collections of early medieval sculpture anywhere in the British isles.
Govan is well-known as an industrial powerhouse which, over the past 150 years, has built an incredible number of the world's largest ships.
However the town, now part of the city of Glasgow, has a long and largely-forgotten history as one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Scotland and the main church of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, the lost kingdom of the northern Britons.
In AD 870, Vikings, who had been based in Dublin, destroyed Dumbarton at the mouth of the Clyde, which had been a major power centre in the centuries after the Romans departed from Britain.Read the rest of this article...
"One-of-a-kind" Stone Age artefacts left by Swedish nomads 11,000 years ago have been discovered by divers in the Baltic Sea, prompting some to claim that Sweden's Atlantis had been found.
A diver exams an 11,000-year old tree trunk [Credit: Arne Sjostrom]
"What we have here is maybe one of the oldest settlements from the first more permanent sites in Scania and in Sweden full stop," project leader and archaeology professor at Sodertorn University Bjorn Nilsson told The Local.
Nilsson's team has been diving in Hano, a sandy bay off the coast of Skane County, and has been given the resources by the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieambetet) needed for a three-year excavation of an area 16 metres below the water's surface.
Researchers have found traces of wine in jars, dating back to 1100 BC. The finds suggest that wine was imported long before previously thought.
The discovery of traces of wine in an Old Norse jar reveals that Nordic people drank wine as early as 1100 BC. The archaeologists behind the discovery believe that Nordic people may have received the wine through trading with central and southern Europeans. (Illustration: Robert Brown)
Having recently studied three jars from ancient Denmark and one cup from southern Sweden, researchers found traces of wine in one of the jars, which may originate as far back as 1100 BC.
The new study indicates that Old Norse people traded wine with central and southern Europeans long before the Iron Age, when most of the earliest traces of wine in the North started to appear.Read the rest of this article...
Thursday, 23 January 2014
In March 2014 the British Museum will open the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery with a major exhibition on the Vikings, supported by BP.Read the rest of this article...
During evaluation of land prior to the construction of a new hospital in Aalborg, Northern Denmark, archaeologists uncovered an Iron Age village dating back around 2000 years. The settlement differs from other sites of this period because of its well preserved condition, including a number of houses complete with fireplaces, chalk floors and cobbled paving.
The village covers an area of approximately 4 ha., and excavation has so far located about 40 houses. However, this number is expected to increase greatly during full excavation, but initial reports show they are not all contemporary, and represent repeated reconstruction and rebuild over hundreds of years.
Usually, only traces of the postholes are left to understand the layout of a house, but the village had been covered over with a thick layer of soil, that had protected it after abandonment. Several of the houses had floors created out of chalk for the living area, while other parts of the buildings appeared to be used as stabling for animals. Preliminary studies show bones found were mainly from the butchering of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, but the inhabitants supplemented their diet with fish from the nearby fjord.
Read the rest of this article...
Sunday, 19 January 2014
Hillary Term begins tomorrow at Oxford, but there is still time to enrol for one of the online courses in archaeology.
Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
The following courses are available:
Researchers said Friday they may have discovered remains of King Alfred the Great, the 9th-century royal remembered for protecting England from the Vikings and educating a largely illiterate nation.
The portion of a pelvic bone said to belong either to Alfred, the only English king to have the moniker "Great", or his son King Edward the Elder was identified in remains dug up at a medieval abbey in Winchester, southwest England, the capital of Alfred's kingdom [Credit: University of Winchester]
The University of Winchester said in a statement that a pelvis found in a box of bones in the city's museum is likely to be either from the legendary leader or his son, King Edward the Elder.
Read the rest of this article...
The fragment of pelvis dates back to the period in history when King Alfred died
A fragment of pelvis bone unearthed in Winchester in 1999 may belong to King Alfred the Great or his son Edward the Elder, academics have said.
It was found at a previous dig at Hyde Abbey and has been dated to 895-1017 - the era the king died.
Experts were originally testing remains exhumed last year from an unmarked grave at St Bartholomew's Church, where it was thought he was buried.
But they were found to be from the 1300s, not 899, when the king died.
The fragment of pelvis had been among remains stored in two boxes at Winchester's City Museum and was tested by academics at Winchester University after their study into the exhumed remains proved fruitless.Read the rest of this article...
Saturday, 18 January 2014
The first remains of King Alfred the Great may have been found at last after tests on a pelvic bone unearthed in Winchester revealed it belonged to either the Anglo-Saxon King or his son Edward.
But after a high-profile excavation of an unmarked grave where the Anglo-Saxon King was believed to be buried, the location of the bone was much more mundane - a storage box in the bowels of a local museum.
Archaeologists from the University of Winchester had initially analysed six skeletons excavated from a grave at St Bartholomew's Church, the historic site of Hyde Abbey, last March.
Thursday, 16 January 2014
It is thought these coins, minted in the name of Edmund, King of East Anglia, were buried when Vikings attacked Britain in 865#
Amateur archaeologists with metal detectors found 990 items classified as treasure during 2012, according to figures from the British Museum.
All of the rare coins, rings and brooches contain gold or silver, and many date back more than 1,200 years.
The public reported more than 74,000 other historical items to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which experts say has "revolutionised archaeology".
More than 900,000 objects have been reported since it started in 1997.
The verification process takes several months, which is why the items submitted in 2012 are only being detailed now.Read the rest of this article...
Friday, 10 January 2014
A National Board of Antiquities archaeologist excavates at the Ahvenkoski harbor forge. The furnace was located between two stones, and in the ground one can see dark gray iron slag pieces.
Image courtesy Jouni Jäppinen.
It was in the autumn of 2010 when local amateur archaeologists discovered evidence of harbor facilities thought to date from around 1000–1200 AD near Ahvenkoski village at the mouth of the western branch of the Kymi River in southeastern Finland. The findings included a smithy, an iron smelting furnace, and forceps, as well as hundreds of iron objects such as boat rivets similar to those found at Viking settlements in different parts of the Baltic, Scandinavia, Scotland and Iceland. Then, in 2011, a possible 2 x 3-meter-wide cremation grave was uncovered, confirmed later through rescue excavations by archaeologists from the Finnish National Board of Antiquities and through osteological analysis at the University of Helsinki. Artifacts included a battle axe, a knife, and a bronze buckle, all associated with burned human bones, initially thought to be dated to around 1000 - 1200 CE before analysis. Similar objects have been discovered in the Baltic Sea area and in Ladoga Karelia. Identical cape buckles have also been found in Gotland.
Read the rest of this article...
Egill Skallagrímsson from a 17th-century manuscript [Credit: WikiCommons]
The Icelandic sagas of the Norse people are thousand-year-old chronicles of brave deeds and timeless romances, but how true to Viking life were they? Writing in Significance, Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna use a statistical network of associations between characters to find out.
While the stories involve a cast of thousands, recurring characters have emerged as the stories passed into historical legend. A set of recurring characters living within the same fictional world is not restricted to ancient stories, such as the Norse or Greek myths, but remains a popular device in modern comic and film franchises.
By exploring the number of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ interactions between protagonists, the researchers built a network of recurring characters which in turn could help reveal if the stories are invented or if they are based on a real society.
Karl der Große: Macht, Kunst, Schätze - three major exhibitions which will run in Aachen from 20 June to 21 September 2014 to mark the 1200th anniversary of the death of Charlemagne.
The three exhibitions are listed as:
Places of Power
The exhibition in the town hall’s coronation hall, the former kings’ hall of the palace, focuses on Charlemagne’s imperial palaces.
At the Centre Charlemagne, a new exhibition housed in the heart of the imperial palace, the golden age of culture during the Carolingian period is presented with top-class works of art.
In the cathedral’s treasure chamber next to Carolingian Marienkirche, precious church treasures from the Carolingian period and the Middle Ages return to their original site once again.
Go to the exhibition website...
The Celtic brooch looted from the Vikings and discovered in the museum's collection
[Credit: Andy Hall for the Observer]
A Celtic treasure looted by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago has been discovered in the British Museum's storerooms. An ornate, gilded disc brooch dating from the eighth or ninth century was found by chance and is being described as a "staggering find". No-one knew of its existence until now.
It had been concealed in a lump of organic material excavated from a Viking burial site at Lilleberge in Norway by a British archaeologist in the 1880s and acquired by the British Museum in 1891.
Anew book describes the fascinating history of drinking horns and their importance within Scandinavian culture where their roots stretch back into at least the Iron Age as several graves have been found to contain examples from this period.
A long history
During Classical Antiquity, it was the Thracians and Scythians who were known for their custom of drinking from actual horns but in Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece, although they had retained their shape the materials used were clay or metal. Their spread across Central Europe and into Scandanavia by the 5th century BC can be traced by their fittings found in various graves.
The Gallehus horns, discovered north of Møgeltønder in Southern Jutland, Denmark, were created from sheet gold. Designed to look like auroch horns, they were found in 1639 and in 1734 respectively at locations only 20 metres apart and date to the early 5th century BC. Sadly the originals were stolen and melted down in 1802.
Read the rest of this article...
Sweyn Forkbeard (shown left), England's shortest reigning king, remains in the shadows of both his son Canute the Great, and father Harold Bluetooth
On Christmas Day 1013, Danish ruler Sweyn Forkbeard was declared King of all England and the town of Gainsborough its capital. But why is so little known of the man who would be England's shortest-reigning king and the role he played in shaping the early history of the nation?
For 20 years, Sweyn, a "murderous character" who deposed his father Harold Bluetooth, waged war on England.
And exactly 1,000 years ago, with his son Canute by his side, a large-scale invasion finally proved decisive.Read the rest of this article...