Friday, 7 April 2017

Why you should take your kids to Britain's smelliest attraction


Scent is the most underrated element of travel. Consider: lavender-infused Provencal fields or sulphuric water in Iceland. Each smell evokes a fundamental aspect of its place of origin. And, if you are under the age of 12, or know someone who is, consider this particular whiff: rotting flesh, with more than a hint of human excrement.

Nothing brings history alive like the scent of a turd, particularly when accompanied by a fossilised version, which you will find on display in a new case at Jorvik Viking Centre, which re-opens this weekend, 17 months after floods destroyed one of York’s most memorable attractions.

Vikings are heroes for my children’s generation thanks, in part, to How to Train Your Dragon, the historical drama Vikings and the Scandi clothing invasion, which features cheerful bearded Nordic faces on just about anything.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Fregerslev Viking From Outside Hørning


Sensational find of chamber graves from the later part of the Viking Age at Fregerslev south of Hørning in Jutland in Denmark will hopefully witness to the ethos of the Viking warriors in the 10th century.

Fregerslev is a small settlement located a few km south of Hørning in the midst of Jutland near the town of Skanderborg. It lies down to a lake at an old crossing point. At the periphery of Hørning close to the road towards Fregerslev, a Viking burial ground was discovered in 2012, consisting of two inhumation graves and a tomb with two (or maybe three) chambers. While the two inhumation graves have been excavated, the chamber graves were left in situ for later excavation. However, intensive studies carried out using metal detectors as well as electromagnetic surveying left the archaeologists with tantalising glimpses of what might be a very rich picking ground for future excavations. Also, a magnificent headgear for a horse gave an inkling of what hopefully lies beneath. During the next years funding was sought while the find was kept hidden for fear of “night-owls”. Now, However, the time has come.

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Archaeologists make sensational Viking discovery in Denmark

One of the beautiful, gilded fittings (photo: Museum of Skanderborg)

In what is being described as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Denmark in recent times, archaeologists have uncovered several chamber-graves in the hamlet of Hørning near Skanderborg in Jutland.

What is of particular interest is that one of the chamber-graves contains the remains of a high-level person from the early Viking Age, as well as a number of spectacular items that confirm the individual’s high standing. He has been dubbed the ‘Fregerslev Viking’.

“The artefacts that we’ve already found are exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle. This type of bridle would only be available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age, and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from the king,” said Merethe Schifter Bagge, a project manager and archaeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Immigration to Denmark is nothing new … just ask the Vikings

A Viking grave in Randers shows evidence of early globalisation



Ernst Stidsing, an archaeologist and the curator at East Jutland Museum, has discovered that the body of a woman buried in a Viking grave in Randers was born in Norway.

The remains of her teeth were subjected to a strontium analysis, which can show where a person is born and grew up. The results of the analysis, together with jewellery found with the body, pointed to the fact that she grew up in southern Norway.

Ernst Stidsing added that people have always travelled and emigrated. However, the exact circumstances of her coming to Denmark are unknown. It isn’t clear whether she came of her own free will, was a party in an arranged marriage, or if there was another reason for her presence in Denmark.

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Norwegian theme park wants to be ‘Viking capital of the world’


Theme park Thors Rike (Thor’s Kingdom) wants to attract Viking enthusiasts from all over the world.
The theme park, in the western Norwegian county of Hordaland, aims to become a traditional theme park with a difference – the carousels and rollercoasters will be supplemented by “infotainment” to educate visitors about Vikings and Viking history.

“There is much talk of rollercoasters and rides, but Viking experiences and a Viking ship will also be built. The aim is to take visitors a thousand years back in time while retaining the theme park aspect,” Terje Devold, project leader for the new amusement park, told broadcaster NRK.

Devold said that he envisaged the final result as a “theme park in Viking costume”.

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How to Fight Like a Viking

Courage, camaraderie, and a lack of chivalry made the Norse fearsome fighters.



From the day in 793 when Viking warriors descended on an isolated monastery in the north of England, the Norsemen became an object of fascination and terror for medieval Europeans. “Never before,” an English monk later wrote, “has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race.”

How did the Vikings come to inspire such fear in the hearts of their opponents? Archaeological excavations of Viking graves and battlefields show they used the same chain mail shirts, long spears, and sharp, double-edged swords as other well equipped warriors all across Europe.

Their reputation, experts say, came not so much from their weapons or armor as from their innovative tactics and high morale.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish?

Newly discovered evidence is upending our understanding of how early settlers made a life on the island — and why they suddenly disappeared


On the grassy slope of a fjord near the southernmost tip of Greenland stand the ruins of a church built by Viking settlers more than a century before Columbus sailed to the Americas. The thick granite-block walls remain intact, as do the 20-foot-high gables. The wooden roof, rafters and doors collapsed and rotted away long ago. Now sheep come and go at will, munching wild thyme where devout Norse Christian converts once knelt in prayer.

The Vikings called this fjord Hvalsey, which means “Whale Island” in Old Norse. It was here that Sigrid Bjornsdottir wed Thorstein Olafsson on Sunday, September 16, 1408. The couple had been sailing from Norway to Iceland when they were blown off course; they ended up settling in Greenland, which by then had been a Viking colony for some 400 years. Their marriage was mentioned in three letters written between 1409 and 1424, and was then recorded for posterity by medieval Icelandic scribes. Another record from the period noted that one person had been burned at the stake at Hvalsey for witchcraft.

But the documents are most remarkable—and baffling—for what they don’t contain: any hint of hardship or imminent catastrophe for the Viking settlers in Greenland, who’d been living at the very edge of the known world ever since a renegade Icelander named Erik the Red arrived in a fleet of 14 longships in 985. For those letters were the last anyone ever heard from the Norse Greenlanders.

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Monday, 6 March 2017

How to Eat Like a Viking


It's no surprise that the fearsome raiders relished wild boar meat. But yogurt?



Participants at the Slav and Viking Festival in Wolin, Poland tend to be sticklers for authenticity. Many adorn their bodies with tattoos, and some adopt a Viking diet, slaughtering and roasting game. 
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID GUTTENFELDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

All that marauding must have left the Vikings famished. It’s easy to envision a group of them around a table, ravenous after a long day of ransacking, devouring giant hunks of meat and hoisting horns-full of ale.

But that wouldn’t quite be fair, or accurate.

As tempting as it is to assume that Viking meals were crude and carnivorous, the truth is that everyday Viking fare included a range of foods that a health-minded modern person would applaud.

Picture, for example, that burly, bearded warrior throwing down his sword to enjoy a tart treat similar to yogurt, or refuel with a tangle of fresh greens.

“The Vikings had a wide range of food and wild herbs available to make tasty and nutritious dishes,” says Diana Bertelsen, who helped research and develop recipes for Denmark’s Ribe Viking Center—a reconstructed Viking settlement where visitors can immerse themselves in just about every aspect of Viking culture, including what and how they ate.

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The toy boat that sailed the seas of time

Some child likely played with this carved wooden boat a thousand years ago. It was found in an abandoned well during an extensive archaeological dig at the Ørland Main Air Station, on the coast west of Trondheim.
Credit: Åge Hojem, NTNU University

A thousand years ago, for reasons we will never know, the residents of a tiny farmstead on the coast of central Norway filled an old well with dirt.

Maybe the water dried up, or maybe it became foul. But when archaeologists found the old well and dug it up in the summer of 2016, they discovered an unexpected surprise: a carefully carved toy, a wooden boat with a raised prow like a proud Viking ship, and a hole in the middle where a mast could have been stepped.

"This toy boat says something about the people who lived here," said Ulf Fransson, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) University Museum and one of two field leaders for the Ørland Main Air Station dig, where the well and the boat were found.

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England

The Danish Viking King Sweyn Forkbeard conquered what is modern day England in 1013. But very little trace of the Danish Vikings is found in modern day Britons’ DNA, concluded DNA scientists in 2015. This conclusion has now come under fire from archaeologists. (Illustration: Wikipedia)

The Vikings plundered, raided, and eventually reigned over a large part of what is modern day England. But exactly how many Danish Vikings migrated west and settled down in the British Isles?
In 2015, a large DNA study sparked a row between DNA scientists and archaeologists after concluding that the Danish Vikings had a “relatively limited” influence on the British—a direct contradiction to archaeological remains and historical documents.
“We see no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation and control of a large part of England,” write DNA scientists in a study published in the scientific journal Nature in 2015.
new study has reignited the debate by claiming that somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 Vikings relocated to England.
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Danish Vikings could have been economic migrants to Britain


The Viking invasion of Britain in the ninth century may have been the result of economic migration, a study has found.
Jane Kershaw, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London,  believes that they crossed the seas find a better life, the Local reported.
She told the told the Danish magazine Videnskab that their motivation was little different from migrants arriving in the United Kingdom and Denmark today.
"At that time, there may not have been enough resources in the Vikings' homeland, but in eastern England the Vikings found an agriculturally rich area," she said.    "We are currently living in a time of large-scale migration,” she added. 
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Viking VIP: Grave Belonging to 'Warrior of High Status' Uncovered

Archaeologists found several grave goods within the Viking burial, including a sword (top),
the remains of fabric that was wrapped around the blade of the sword (lower right)
and the decoration on the pommel of the sword (bottom left).
Credit: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology
About 1,000 years ago, Vikings dug a grave for a "warrior of high status" and buried him in a boat that was overflowing with grave goods, including a hefty sword and a broad-bladed ax, according to a new study.
The Viking warrior was buried in western Scotland's Swordle Bay, far from his home in Scandinavia. But, the artifacts found in his grave are Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish in origin, the researchers found.
The rare finding provides insights into how the peoples of western Scotland lived and interacted during the 10th century, when this Viking was buried, the researchers said. [Images: Viking Jewelry Revealed in Sparkling Photos]
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Revealed: the secrets of rare Viking boat burial uncovered in Swordle Bay on Ardnamurchan peninsula


IT was the first intact Viking ship burial to be unearthed on the UK mainland, with two teeth the only remains of the person who was laid to rest there more than 1,000 years ago.
Now the first report on the rare archaeological find, discovered on the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland, has raised the intriguing possibility it may have held the body of a female warrior, rather than a male Viking chieftain as previously assumed.
Researchers believe the person was a warrior of high status, with weapons such as a spear, shield, sword and axe also found buried in the small rowing boat – but there were an assortment of other artefacts including a large iron ladle, a sickle and part of a drinking horn.
An analysis of chemical elements known as isotopes found in the two teeth suggest the Viking may have grown up in a coastal village in Norway.
While there are few clues as to why their elaborate burial site is on the remote Scottish peninsula, one theory is it could have taken place to mark the first settlement of the area by Vikings.
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Face of Orkney's St Magnus reconstructed


Forensic artist Hew Morrison used specialist computer software for his 

reconstruction of St Magnus


A facial reconstruction has been made of Orkney's St Magnus to help mark the 900th anniversary of his death.
Forensic artist Hew Morrison's research included studies of photographs taken in the 1920s of what is said to be the skull of the 12th Century Norse earl.
Before sainthood, Magnus Erlendsson shared the earldom of Orkney with his cousin, Hakon.
Hakon's jealousy of his cousin's popularity on the islands led to Magnus being put to death.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Shetland celebrates the Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival


The annual Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival has been celebrated in Shetland.
Some 60 "Vikings" paraded through Lerwick, trailed by more than 900 torchbearers known as "guizers".
The celebration culminated in the traditional burning of a galley. Mike Grundon reports from Lerwick.

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Monday, 30 January 2017

How Much Viking Lore Is True?


Archaeologists have confirmed key details in Norse oral histories (but not the dragons, elves, and trolls).



In TV series from Vikings to Game of Thrones, the icy wastes of the north provide the backdrop to dramatic, often violent, stories of kings and warriors, dragons and trolls. The source for many of these dramas is the Icelandic sagas. In her new book, Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the world of the sagas, teasing fact from fiction to show that there was much more to the Norse peoples than rape and pillage. (Find out whether the Vikings deserved their terrible reputation.)
Speaking from her home in Durham, England, she explains how the United States should really celebrate Leif the Lucky, not Columbus, why the Soviets hated the idea that Russia had been founded by the Vikings, and how the gruesome Viking torture known as the Blood Eagle may have been more poetic conceit than historical practice. (Did Vikings make the modern world possible?)

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Spectacular Viking manor discovered near Birka


A large Viking manor has been found near the ancient town of Birka in Lake Mälaren.
Birka, on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren, 40 kilometres from Stockholm, is thought to be Sweden's oldest town and has been the site of excavations since the 17th century.
But there is still plenty left to be discovered on the island, as Swedish and German researchers' latest find proves.

Thanks to high-resolution geophysical surveys carried out in September 2016, researchers now believe they have located one of the most important Viking halls of the era, situated in the harbour bay of Korshamn, outside of Birka's town boundaries. They believe that it can be dated to the period after 810 AD.

“This kind of Viking period high status manors has previously only been identified at a few places in southern Scandinavia, for instance at Tissø and Lejre in Denmark,” said Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm county museum, in a statement.
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'Warrior Of High Status' Was Buried At Scottish Viking Boat Burial Site


The excavation of a rare, intact Viking boat burial in western Scotland has been set out in detail for the first time.

The boat burial is the first found intact on the UK mainland [
Credit: Ardnamurchan Transitions Project]

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat found in Ardnamurchan suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

In a report published by Antiquity, archaeologists describe the finds including a sword, spearhead and 213 of the boat's rivets.

The weapons indicate the burial of "a warrior of high status".

Archaeologists, including Dr Oliver Harris of the University of Leicester, first revealed the discovery at Swordle Bay in 2011.

Since then experts have been studying the burial site and its "rich assemblage of grave goods".

Among them were a single copper alloy ringed pin, thought to have been used to fasten a burial cloak or shroud, a broad bladed axe, a shield boss and whetstone made from rock found in Norway. Also found were mineralised remains of textiles and wood.


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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Scientists divided over whether 'Furku.Al' rock inscription is genuinely the work of Vikings


When a resident on the Isle of Eigg decided to clean his drains, he had no idea that he would stumble upon a mystery that would baffle archaeologists around the world.

The islander’s discovery of a boulder with the letters “Furku.Al” scratched into its surface has sparked a lively debate among experts as to whether it is a genuine runic inscription.

The resident alerted Camille Dressler, chair of the Eigg History Society, about his potentially significant find, and she sent a photograph to Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

“It looks quite ancient. We are intrigued by it,” Ms Dressler told The Daily Telegraph. “We just hope it is a genuine Norse inscription as that would highlight the Norse heritage of the island.”

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Thursday, 12 January 2017

Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands


The Centre for the Study of the Viking Age is pleased to report that we have been awarded a substantial grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council Follow-On Fund for a project called Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands. The project will fund a variety of initiatives and events related to the British Museum/York Museums Trust travelling exhibition on the Vikings which will be on at Lakeside from November 2017 to March 2018. CSVA alumnus Dr Roderick Dale will start as Cultural Engagement Fellow on the project on 1st February. More details to follow.

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