Saturday 20 December 2008

VIDEO: "Viking Horse" Has 2 More Gaits

Brought to the island by Vikings, the Icelandic horse does two gaits (besides walk, trot, and gallop) that no other horse does.

Watch the video...

Sunday 2 November 2008

Icelandic heritage delegation in Island

A DELEGATION from the Icelandic Saga Trail Association visited the Island last week to learn about heritage management.

The seven-day trip was organised by Manx National Heritage.

The delegation included experts in cultural tourism from the Icelandic Saga Trail Association and a representative from the Orkney Islands, who all have a strong interest in the Isle of Man's Viking and Norse heritage.

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Wednesday 29 October 2008

The Vikings' burning question: some decent graveside theatre

The average Viking lived a life in which spirituality and thoughts of immortality played a far more important part than the rape and pillage more usually associated with his violent race, according to new research. A study of thousands of excavated Viking graves suggests that rituals were performed at the graveside in which stories about life and death were presented as theatre, with live performances designed to help the passage of the deceased from this world into the next.

Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, who will be presenting his findings at a lecture at the university tonight, believes that these rituals may have been the early beginnings of the Norse sagas, which told stories about men and gods in the pagan world. He said that close study of the graves and the artefacts they contained, as well as contemporary accounts of Viking funerals, presented a far more complex picture of their lives than the simple myth of the Viking raider.

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Monday 27 October 2008

Excavated burials reveal the Viking world-view

Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.

Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.

Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.

The research also showed that Viking funerals involved complex elements of mortuary theatre – ritual plays which were literally performed at the graveside.

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Vikings preferred male grooming to pillaging

The Vikings are traditionally known for leaving destruction in their wake as they travelled around Europe raping, pillaging and plundering.

But Cambridge University has launched a campaign to recast them as "new men" with an interest in grooming, fashion and poetry.

Academics claim that the old stereotype is damaging, and want teenagers to be more appreciative of the Vikings' social and cultural impact on Britain.

They say that the Norse explorers, far from being obsessed with fighting and drinking, were a largely-peaceful race who were even criticised for being too hygienic.

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Friday 24 October 2008

Ancient treasures go on display at town museum

A SILVER Viking neck ring and a hoard of medieval pennies are among the archaeological and metal-detecting finds that have gone on display at an East Riding museum.

The treasures and artefacts have been unearthed across the region and are now available for closer inspection at the Treasure House in Beverley.

The Viking neck ring was found at Stamford Bridge, while the pennies were discovered fused together by fire at a site in the village of Huggate.

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Swedish archaeologists find Iron Age wooden artifacts

A team of archaeologists digging near the planned expansion of a roadway have uncovered 1,700 year old artifacts made of wood, making them some of the oldest man-made wooden objects over discovered in Sweden.

The find was made near Älvängen in western Sweden and provides additional clues about how farmers in the region lived during the Iron Age.

“We’ve found hundreds of wooden objects, including a wooden wheel. We’re coming much closer to the people of the Iron Age [with this find]; we’re really getting up close and personal,” said Bengt Nordqvist, an archaeologist from the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) to the TT news agency.

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Thursday 23 October 2008

Novgorod Archeologists Find 12th Century Hoard

In the course of excavations in the historical centre of Veliki Novgorod, near the Monastery of the Dime archeologists have found hidden treasure of 22 European silver coins called denarii.

The thin, scale-like dinarii about one centimeter in diameter had been hidden under the base of a wooden utility structure, which experts have dated back to the early 12th century.

The hoard itself has also been tentatively dated to the same period.

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New dig to 'discover' St Edmund

LITTLE is known about the ancient shrine to Suffolk's martyred saint.

But archaeologists hope a new high-tech survey currently underway in the heart of the abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds will shed more light on the hidden history of St Edmund.

The Abbey Gardens is renowned for its beautiful flower beds but experts believe the historical secrets buried beneath the borders and manicured lawns could be equally astounding - particularly if they reveal more about England's former patron saint.

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Tuesday 21 October 2008

Ancient Spindle with Runes Discovered in Reykjavík

A fracture of a spindle with a runic inscription was discovered in an archeological excavation near the Althingi parliament building in Reykjavík last week. It is believed to date back to the 11th century and may be the oldest runic inscription in Iceland.

Archeologist Vala Gardarsdóttir, who is in control of the excavation, told Fréttabladid that the discovery is of great significance. “What makes it so special is that it is the only runic inscription from that time that has been found in Iceland.”

“This find could tell us a lot about the development of runes in Iceland because it can prove to be an important piece of the puzzle. One could even say that we’ve discovered the missing link,” Gardarsdóttir said.

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Thursday 16 October 2008

Timbers from a Viking home found in Hungate dig

THE remains of a Viking home have been discovered in York by archaeologists.

York Archaeological Trust archaeologists have exposed what they believe to be a timber-lined cellar of a two-storey house, during excavations at the site of the new Hungate development, which is being built near Stonebow.

The archaeologists say the home, which was uncovered about three metres below street level, would have been built in the mid to late tenth century. It appears that ships’ timbers used in the building’s construction – the first discovery of its kind in York.

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Tuesday 14 October 2008

Uncovering north's Christian past

A group of archaeologists are trying to establish if Norsemen brought Christianity to Caithness before St Columba arrived on Iona.

The question has arisen after a dig at an ancient church site at the coastal village of Dunbeath.

Pottery dating back to the 6th Century has recently been found in the area.

A University of Nottingham team is to carry out further exploration which they hope could show evidence of an even earlier Christian church.

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Thursday 9 October 2008

Archaeologists dig deep to shed new light on city's Viking heritage

IT has long been acknowledged that York is an archaeological gold mine, but the true scale of the city's long history still remains buried underfoot.

However, one of the most significant discoveries in a generation has thrown up new evidence to provide a clearer picture of how far the city sprawled during the Viking era.

A thousand years ago York ranked among the 10 biggest settlements in Western Europe, but archaeologists have now found the remains of a Viking settlement at the Hungate dig close to banks of the River Foss.

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Monday 6 October 2008

Swedish archaeologists uncover Viking-era church

The remains of a Viking-era stave church, including the skeletal remains of a woman, have been uncovered near the cemetery of the Lännäs church in Odensbacken outside Örebro in central Sweden.

“It’ a unique find,” said Bo Annuswer of the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) to the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper.

“The churches that have found earlier have been really damaged. Now archaeologists uncovered for posts which mark the church, and the burial site. Such an undisturbed site is unique.”

Stave churches, common in medieval northern Europe, are constructed with timber framing and walls filled with vertical planks.

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Hollywood Blockbuster on Vikings Shot in Iceland

Agreements have been reached with producers that a huge Hollywood movie on Vikings directed by Iceland’s leading director Baltasar Kormákur and written by Icelandic screenwriter Ólafur Egilsson will be shot in Iceland.

“It is by far the largest project that I have ever participated in. We are talking about an USD 40 to 60 million [EUR 23 to 44 million] movie. Huge deal,” Kormákur told Fréttabladid.

The movie is based on scenes from the Icelandic Sagas and has been introduced as a “spaghetti-western-Viking-movie.” Shooting is scheduled to take six months and the story takes place in winter, spring and summer. The film’s working title is Saga.

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The Fourth Viking Congress

I just wanted to give everyone a preview of the new website, which we are working on. The site is using a Wordpress content management system, so there are some changes still to be made and things like fontsize still need to be finalized. But we will be having a lot of content on it, including articles, interviews, videos and books. For now, here are a few links to articles from The Fourth Viking Congress, edited by Alan Small and published by Aberdeen University in 1961.

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Wednesday 1 October 2008

Of mice and (Viking?) men: phylogeography of British and Irish house mice

The west European subspecies of house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) has gained much of its current widespread distribution through commensalism with humans. This means that the phylogeography of M. m. domesticus should reflect patterns of human movements. We studied restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and DNA sequence variations in mouse mitochondrial (mt) DNA throughout the British Isles (328 mice from 105 localities, including previously published data). There is a major mtDNA lineage revealed by both RFLP and sequence analyses, which is restricted to the northern and western peripheries of the British Isles, and also occurs in Norway. This distribution of the ‘Orkney’ lineage fits well with the sphere of influence of the Norwegian Vikings and was probably generated through inadvertent transport by them. To form viable populations, house mice would have required large human settlements such as the Norwegian Vikings founded. The other parts of the British Isles (essentially most of mainland Britain) are characterized by house mice with different mtDNA sequences, some of which are also found in Germany, and which probably reflect both Iron Age movements of people and mice and earlier development of large human settlements. MtDNA studies on house mice have the potential to reveal novel aspects of human history.

The article is available here as a PDF file.

'Viking mouse' invasion tracked

Scientists say that studying the genes of mice will reveal new information about patterns of human migration.

They say the rodents have often been fellow travellers when populations set off in search of new places to live - and the details can be recovered.

A paper published in a Royal Society journal analyses the genetic make-up of house mice from more than 100 locations across the UK.

It shows that one distinct strain most probably arrived with the Vikings.

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Movement of house mice could be used to trace colonisation

The popular image of Vikings raping and pillaging their way around Europe and then returning with their booty to Scandinavia has been struck another blow, by a study into mice.

According to research by the University of York, they have found Norwegian house mice all over the British Isles and parts of Europe showing that the mighty warriors were in fact quite domesticated.

The house mice, who would have come over in the ships of the Norsemen, could have only settled in major, well established communities, as they would find it difficult to survive in open country.

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Sunday 28 September 2008

Viking centre rebuilt after arson

A Viking long house education centre has been rebuilt by retail staff after it was targeted by arsonists.

The large wooden purpose-built hut used by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust in Penwortham was damaged by vandals who set fire to it last year.

The hut was shaped as a Viking long hut and was used for wildlife education.

Senior managers from the Mall, which has centres in Preston and Blackburn, spent two days rebuilding the hut as part of a teambuilding exercise.

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Thursday 25 September 2008

Rare Viking ingot found

An ancient solid silver ingot found in Stagsden is stealing the limelight at Bedford Museum.

The Viking coin is the first of its kind discovered in the county and dates from AD 850-1000.

It was found by treasure hunters in the north Bedfordshire village last year, but has only just been bought by the museum following lengthy examination and valuation at the British Museum in London.

Jim Inglis, keeper of archaeology at Bedford Museum, said: "This is the only one to be found in Bedfordshire, and in terms of looking for Viking material in Bedford, which used to be a Viking town, it is very, very rare.

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Saturday 20 September 2008

Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

"Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas," Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

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One thousand year old Danish shield discovered

Danish archaeologists say they have found a well-preserved Viking shield that is more than 1,000 years old. Archaeologist Kirsten Christensen said the wooden shield has a diameter of 80 centimetres (32 inches). It was found Tuesday during excavations near Viking-age castles, some 100 kilometres west of Copenhagen.

Christensen said Thursday it is the first time such a shield has been found in Denmark. She said the moist soil in the area is "ideal to preserve wood."

The fir shield is believed to date from the late 10th century. Danish Vikings launched bloody raids along the coasts of Western Europe about 1,000 years ago and even occupied parts of England.

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Docu-Drama Movie on Icelandic Sagas Premieres

Austrian-produced docu-drama Ragnarök – Myths and Sagas of the North will premiere in the Viking Village in Hafnarfjördur next Friday, September 26, at 6 pm. Those who dress up as Vikings pay no entrance fee.

The premiere is followed up with an Icelandic tour and the film has also been released on DVD.

In Nordic mythology ragnarök means "apocalypse," which is the general theme of the film. A virtual storyteller from the early middle ages describes the beginning of the world, the origin of the gods, the creation of man and the apocalypse – ragnarök.

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Sunday 14 September 2008

New Viking grave find in central Sweden

Six grave sites dated from late in the Viking era have been uncovered in Lännäs outside of Örebro in central Sweden.

The graves were discovered during an archeological examination ahead of the building of a new parish house beside the Lännäs cemetery, writes the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper.

Several artifacts were recovered from the graves, including bronze and iron objects, as well as a unique set of glass beads.

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Orkney's Christian Viking Heritage

The Old Man of Hoy, the famous 140m rock stack that rises out of the sea in the Isles of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, is well known as a magnet for adventurous climbers. Less well known until now, however, was that people lived atop some of these rocky towers, far above the sea and separated from the island.

Recent excavations have uncovered part of an unconventional Viking Age village on the top of another Orcadian sea stack known as the Brough of Deerness, lying at the eastern extremity of Mainland, Orkney’s principal island. At 30m high and 80m across, it is an unexpected place to find a 10th to 12th-century church surrounded by the foundations of approximately 30 other buildings.

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Kimmirut site suggests early European contact

Vikings - or perhaps other Europeans - may have set up housekeeping and traded with Inuit 1,000 years ago near today's community of Kimmirut.

That's the picture of the past emerging from ancient artifacts found near Kimmirut, where someone collected Arctic hare fur and spun the fur into yarn and someone else carved notches into a wooden stick to record trading transactions.

Dorset Inuit probably didn't make the yarn and tally sticks because yarn and wood weren't part of Inuit culture at that time, said Patricia Sutherland, an archeologist with the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

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Newfoundland Viking site remarkable

More than 1,200 years ago, Vikings from Norway set out on a series of daring voyages that would eventually result in their being the first Europeans to explore the east coast of North America. In stages they established settlements in the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and finally Newfoundland and Labrador.

Though we passed through an area around the capital of Nuuk, that would have been near the former Viking "Western Settlement," ruins or reconstructions were either not easily accessible or part of the itinerary.

The most famous Viking ruins can be seen at the former "Eastern Settlement" on the southwest tip of Greenland, near the present-day towns of Narsaq and Qassiarsuk. Here is found Brattahlid, the farm Eric the Red established in 986, as well as reconstructions of the bishop's residence at Gardar and Hvalsey Church.

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Wednesday 3 September 2008

The Viking and Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy (VASLE) Project

In the last fifteen years the role of metal-detected objects in the study of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian England has greatly increased through reporting to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and the Early Medieval Corpus (EMC). There are now thousands more artefacts and coins known than a decade ago which, in conjunction with fieldwork, have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the early medieval period.

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Tuesday 12 August 2008

Viking longship returns to home port after epic sail

THE VIKING replica longship Sea Stallion returns to home waters in Roskilde today, after a 2,800 nautical-mile round trip between Denmark and Ireland.

The return of the ship with 60 multinational crew - under sail or rowing, depending on weather - will be greeted by countless vessels at sea, and up to 10,000 people ashore.

Young pupils from Dublin's St Patrick's Cathedral School and choir, along with members of Dublin Civil Defence were among an Irish welcoming party who flew to Denmark from Dublin yesterday.

The Sea Stallion, known in Danish as Havhingsten fra Glendalough, left Dublin port on June 29th, and navigated via the southern English coast and Holland. Project leader Preben Rather Sorensen described the initial return leg between Ireland and England as the "hardest yet", and four crew had to be transferred to the support ship, Cable One.

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Thursday 31 July 2008

University of Oxford Online Viking Course

The new University of Oxford online archaeology course “Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers” is now open for registration.

The course overview states:

“Ravagers, despoilers, pagans, heathens - the Vikings are usually regarded as bloodthirsty seafaring pirates, whose impact on Europe was one of fear and terror. Yet these Vikings were also traders, settlers and farmers with a highly developed artistic culture and legal system. This course uses recent findings from archaeology to examine these varied aspects of the Viking world.”

This course begins in September.

You can find further information here…

Viking ship sets sail across North Sea

THE VIKING replica longship Sea Stallion is en route across the North Sea on the most demanding leg of its voyage from Ireland to Denmark.

The replica, which is modelled on an Irish-built longship, left Lowestoft on the east English coastline early this week on a light southeasterly wind. Lack of suitable winds for its square sail had forced it to berth for almost a fortnight in the English port.

The longship had to weather gales when it set off from Dublin port in late June on its return voyage to the Danish harbour of Roskilde, home of the Viking Ship Museum and the original Sea Stallion, or Havhingsten fra Glendalough.

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Wednesday 30 July 2008

Ruins may be Viking hunting outpost in Greenland

OSLO – Ruins recently discovered on Greenland may mark the Vikings' most northerly year-round hunting outpost on the icy island, a researcher said on Monday.

Knut Espen Solberg, leader of 'The Melting Arctic' project mapping changes in the north, said the remains uncovered in past weeks in west Greenland may also be new evidence that the climate was less chilly about 1,000 years ago than it is today.

'We found something that most likely was a dock, made of rocks, for big ships up to 20-30 metres (60-90 ft) long,' he told Reuters by satellite phone from a yacht off Greenland. He said further study and carbon dating were needed to pinpoint the site's age.

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Monday 7 July 2008

The Sea Stallion has left Ireland on course for Lands End

The high tide bore the Sea Stallion away from Ireland with 200-400 nautical miles ahead

We have the opportunity for the longest single voyage in the Sea Stallion's existence in the next few days. The Viking Ship Museum’s research project, the "Sea Stallion from Glendalough", left the little port of Wicklow in Ireland at high tide shortly before noon today. The ship had been waiting three days in Wicklow for a favourable wind for its journey home to Roskilde.

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Treasure including a Viking gold finger ring and a silver buckle have been found in Notts.

An hearing was held on the finds yesterday at Nottingham Coroner's Court.

The 14th Century silver 'D' shaped buckle was found on land near Weston near Newark.

The ring was found by metal detector enthusiast Bill Severn on land at South Muskham near Newark last April. After the hearing, the 67-year-old from Codnor near Ripley, said: "I've never found anything around there before. I was on my way back to the car and suddenly got a signal. I only had to dig two inches deep and there it was looking at me. I knew it was old and I knew what it was."

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Monday 16 June 2008

Archeological dig near Althingi

Archeologists are due to start digging in Tjarnargata in the centre of Reykjavík in so called Althingisreitur or Althingi’s spot right by Iceland’s parliament, Althingi.

“We have discovered many interesting remains there. It could be possible remains from the settlement age or the Middle Ages, periods we have never found many remains from.” Gardar Gudmunsson an archeologist at the Icelandic Institution of Archeology told

Remains from the first settlement of Reykjavík have already been found around Althingisreitur, places such as the long house ruins (Landnámsskálinn) in Adalstaeti, a hall from the Settlement Age which was inhabited from 930-1000 and was excavated in 2001.
Around 20 to 30 people are going to work on the dig which is likely to take two years.

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Saturday 7 June 2008

A Kings Manor Found in Greenland?

A new interpretation of Grænlandslýsing ,a script by Ívar Bárdarson, suggests that Hvalseyrarbær an old structure from the middle ages situated in Qaqortoq in Greenland is in fact the old Þjóðhildarstadir. Þjóðhildarstadir was the Norwegian king’s manor in Greenland in the Middle Ages.

Belief has it that Þjóðhildarstadir were in Kambstadafjördur in Greenland, but no archeological facts have been found to support that theory. reports

The new interpretation comes from Jóhannes Bjarni Sigtryggsson, a grammarian at the Árni Magnússon Institute of Icelandic Studies. He received a request about how to understand certain text fragments from Grænlandslýsing that describe the lost manor. He could not understand the text in any other way than Þjóðhildarstadir were to be found in Hvalseyrarfjördur fjord.. “It is not impossible that the text fragment describe Kambstadarfjördur fjord, but that is the normal reading of the text” Sigtryggsson told Morgunbladid.

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Tuesday 3 June 2008

Home sweet home for the Viking settlers

A BOOK by a Castletown author providing the first detailed view of Viking settlements in the Island will be published on July 1.

It is written by a leading specialist in the study of Viking archaeology, Sir David Wilson — who was director of the British Museum between 1977 and 1992.

It is thanks to his parents' decision to move to the Island more than 60 years ago that he developed an interest in Viking Age archaeology.

The Vikings in the Isle of Man focuses on the Island between the end of the 9th Century and the middle of the 11th Century and looks at the 'wealth of its archaeological remains, its remarkable series of sculptured memorial stones, its place names, and even its present day literature' which are seen by historians as a 'useful microcosm of a settlement in the West'.

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Monday 2 June 2008

The Sea Stallion is back in its element!

In a well-oiled operation last night, the Sea Stallion was returned to the harbour in Dublin. The ship must now be got ready for the long journey home.

Via a total of five lifts from enormous cranes and giant trucks, the ship was hoisted out of Collins Barracks’ huge yard, over the electric railway and a large memorial, and driven all the way through Dublin’s streets to be put quietly and without fuss back in the Liffey.

This was an operation that really called up boyhood feelings and dreams of toys worth millions! Giant cranes towered up to face each other like prehistoric monsters. Slowly they turned around their axes and lifted the ship quietly and carefully with almost loving devotion.

Read the rest of the latest Newsletter...

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Authentic Viking DNA Retrieved From 1,000-year-old Skeletons

Although "Viking" literally means "pirate," recent research has indicated that the Vikings were also traders to the fishmongers of Europe. Stereotypically, these Norsemen are usually pictured wearing a horned helmet but in a new study, Jørgen Dissing and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, investigated what went under the helmet; the scientists were able to extract authentic DNA from ancient Viking skeletons, avoiding many of the problems of contamination faced by past researchers.

Analysis of DNA from the remains of ancient humans provides valuable insights into such important questions as the origin of genetic diseases, migration patterns of our forefathers and tribal and family patterns.

Unfortunately, severe problems connected with the retrieval and analysis of DNA from ancient organisms (like the scarcity of intact molecules) are further aggravated in the case of ancient humans. This is because of the great risk of contamination with abundant DNA from modern humans. Humans, then, are involved at all steps, from excavation to laboratory analyses. This means that many previous results have subsequently been disputed as attributed to the presence of contaminant DNA, and some researchers even claim that it is impossible to obtain reliable results with ancient human DNA.

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Archeologists Discover Unique Things in Veliki Novgorod

A group of archeologists carrying out diggings in Veliki Novgorod have found several ancient feeding bottles for babies.

The finds were discovered at the digging site in Mikhailova Street. Here the archeologists found wooden feeding devices made of cow horns. The Slavs used to attach leather sacks with milk to the broad ends of hollow horns and their babies would suck the milk through holes in the narrow part of horns.

It is interesting to note that not far from the archeological excavation site there is a working municipal kindergarten.

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Monday 26 May 2008

Latest Newsletter from Havhingsten fra Glendalough

The latest Newsletter from Havhingsten fra Glendalough (The Sea Stallion from Glendalough) in now available.

The reproduction Viking ship will sail from Dublin back to Denmark on 29 June. This time the course will be south, round Land’s End, and into the English Channel. The Sea Stallion will stick close to the south coast of England with its famous seaside towns and historic harbours from the days of the full riggers, and then cross the North Sea to Danish waters. The voyage will end in Roskilde on 9th August.

Read the newsletter…

Sea Stallion steps back in history

AT three o’clock next Thursday afternoon Dubliners will be treated to an extraordinary spectacle. The Viking ship Sea Stallion, which has been on display at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, will be lifted 50 metres into the air by a giant crane. Then the huge vessel will be swung out over the three-storey museum building and deposited in the nearby Croppy’s Acre. In the middle of the night it will be moved to the River Liffey, prior to its long sea journey back to Denmark.

The Sea Stallion was built at Roskilde, the ancient capital of Denmark, and now a quiet town at the head of a long narrow fjord. About 900 years ago ships were scuttled in the fjord to protect the harbour from pirates. In 1962 five of the wrecks were discovered, one of which turned out to have Irish timbers; it had been built in Dublin about the year 1042. A replica was constructed. It required 7,000 iron rivets and 340 trees had to be felled. On September 4, 2004, the ‘Havhingsten fra Glendalough’ was christened by Queen Margrethe.

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Danewerk und Haithabu sollen Weltkulturerbe werden

Mit einem länderübergreifenden Antrag wollen Island, Dänemark, Schweden und Deutschland ihre Stätten der Wikingerkultur als gemeinsames UNESCO-Welterbe anerkennen lassen. Das internationale Propjekt fimiert unter dem Namen "Phenomena and Monuments of Viking Culture".

Die Initiatoren betreten mit ihrem gemeinsamen Antrag weitgehend Neuland. Anträge mehrerer Staaten sind bei der UNESCO bisher selten. Die vier Partner sind zuversichtlich, dass ihr Antrag Erfolg haben wird. Auch hoffen sie, dass sich ihnen weitere Länder mit ihren Wikingerstätten anschließen werden. Erste Signale hierzu aus Kanada und Norwegen sind positiv.

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Thursday 8 May 2008

Irish Viking trade centre unearthed

One of the Vikings' most important trading centres has been discovered in Ireland.

The settlement at Woodstown in County Waterford is estimated to be about 1,200 years old.

It was discovered during archaeological excavations for a road by-pass for Waterford city, which was founded by the Vikings.

The Irish government said the settlement was one of the most important early Viking age trading centres discovered in the country.

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Metal detectorists thrilled at Viking sword find

BURIED for more than a 1,000 years, these beautifully cast fragments of a Viking sword could be a once-in-a-lifetime find for two metal detector enthusiasts in the Isle of Man.
Only the 13th recorded Viking sword found in the Island, it was unearthed by Dan Crowe and Rob Farrer while metal detecting in the north west of the Island.

The two Manx Detectorists Society members have found many interesting artefacts over the years, so they knew the importance of what they had found.

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Sunday 20 April 2008

Neues Forschungsinstitut für baltische und skandinavische Archäologie geplant

Schleswig-Holstein plant die Einrichtung eines neuen Forschungsinstituts für baltische und skandinavische Archäologie. Langfristiges Ziel des Landes sei es, das Forschungsinstitut für baltische und skandinavische Archäologie in der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft zu verankern, sagte Schleswig-Holsteins Wissenschaftsstaatssekretär Jost de Jager bei einer Tagung in Schloß Gottorf.

Das Land Schleswig-Holstein plant, ein neues Forschungsinstitut für baltische und skandinavische Archäologie einzurichten. Das kündigte Wissenschaftsstaatssekretär Jost de Jager am 17. April am Rande einer Sitzung des Verwaltungsausschusses der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft im archäologischen Landesmuseum Schloß Gottorf an. Basis des neuen Instituts soll die bestehende Forschung des archäologischen Landesmuseums sein. Langfristiges Ziel des Landes Schleswig-Holstein sei es, das Forschungsinstitut für baltische und skandinavische Archäologie in der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft zu verankern, sagte de Jager.

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Tuesday 8 April 2008

Bay could reveal Viking secrets

A bay in the far north of Scotland is to be searched by archaeologists in the hope of uncovering Viking artefacts.

Items have been found at opposite ends of Dunnet Bay in Caithness, but the links area have not been thoroughly investigated before.

Test pits will be dug and soil samples analysed by a new, community-owned archaeological research centre.

The base is housed within Castletown Heritage Society's premises in a former farm steading at Castlehill.

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Sunday 6 April 2008

Archaeological finds set to go on display

DONCASTER Museum is expected to stage an exhibition of the borough's recent major Viking or Saxon find in the next few months.

Doncaster Council expects the bones of the 35 people whose grave was found during site preparations for the construction of the new North Ridge Community School in Adwick to be returned when archaeologists finish working on them.

But it is unlikely all the bones will be put on public display at the Chequer Road venue and may be kept in storage by the authority.

Jane Miller, director of neighbourhoods, said: "The excavated material is currently undergoing conservation and analysis but it is hoped that an exhibition will be held in Doncaster to give local people the chance to look at some of the
se finds within the next few months."

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Friday 4 April 2008

Viking treasure found near Arlanda

A unique silver treasure has been uncovered near Sweden’s Arlanda airport.

On Tuesday, archaeologists from the Swedish National Heritage Board dug up the largest collection of Viking-era silver coins found in the Uppland region north of Stockholm in modern times.

The treasure consists of 450 silver coins and was discovered during an investigation of an Iron Age grave site located beside the Steningehöjden area in Sundveda near Arlanda.

Some of the coins come from Bagdad and Damascus and are thought to be from 500 to 840 AD and appear to have been buried around 850 AD. They were found on the edge of a grave which is believed to be 1000 years older than the treasure.

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Swedes find Viking-era Arab coins

Swedish archaeologists have discovered a rare hoard of Viking-age silver Arab coins near Stockholm's Arlanda airport.

About 470 coins were found on 1 April at an early Iron Age burial site. They date from the 7th to 9th Century, when Viking traders travelled widely.

There has been no similar find in that part of Sweden since the 1880s.

Most of the coins were minted in Baghdad and Damascus, but some came from Persia and North Africa, said archaeologist Karin Beckman-Thoor.

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Tuesday 1 April 2008

From bones to berserkers -- Vikings under the spotlight

Viking experts will be gathering at The University of Nottingham to discuss the findings of latest research into the Norsemen.

Taking in the way the Vikings fought, lived, and left their mark on Europe, some of the country’s leading experts in the field will be getting together at the Midlands Viking Symposium (MVS) on April 26.

The MVS is aimed at anyone with an interest in the history and culture of the Vikings, with talks from specialists from a variety of disciplines whose work contributes to research in Scandinavia, the British Isles, and further afield. This research covers topics including population genetics, literature, coinage, sculpture, history, and archaeology.

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Monday 31 March 2008

Viking treasure found on Silloth beach

TREASURE has been unearthed on a Silloth beach by a man out with a metal detector.

Carlisle Coroners’ Court heard that a silver Viking jug handle discovered at Beckfoot could be over 2,000 years old.

The court heard the handle, dating back from between the first and fourth centuries by the British Museum, is made mainly from silver and is in the form of a stylised snake’s head.

North and West Cumbria Coroner, John Taylor, ruled yesterday that as the handle is silver and is over 300 years old, it is treasure and can be claimed by a museum.

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Monday 10 March 2008

Study of people in northwest England finds Viking ancestors

The blood of the Vikings is still coursing through the veins of men living in the North West of England — according to a new study which has been just published.

Focusing on the Wirral in Merseyside and West Lancashire the study of 100 men, whose surnames were in existence as far back as medieval times, has revealed that 50 per cent of their DNA is specifically linked to Scandinavian ancestry.

The collaborative study, by The University of Nottingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, reveals that the population in parts of northwest England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, about the same as modern Orkney. The 14-strong research team, funded by the Wellcome Trust and a prestigious Watson-Crick DNA anniversary award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), was led by the University of Nottingham's Professor Stephen Harding and Professor Judith Jesch and the University of Leicester's Professor Mark Jobling.

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Friday 29 February 2008

PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Viking Women Wore "Sexy" Outfits

Call it the Viking version of a low-cut top.

A modern reconstruction of a Norse outfit (worn above by textile researcher Annika Larsson of Uppsala University in Sweden) is a single piece of fabric held in place by clasps that sit on the middle of each breast.

Such a provocative outfit was probably common among Viking women before Christianity took hold in Scandinavia, Larsson said in a statement. She recently analyzed ancient textiles from the Lake Mälaren Valley, which was inhabited during the "Viking Age," from about A.D. 750 to 1050.

A mélange of Nordic and Oriental flair, the clothing "was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire," she said.

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Thursday 28 February 2008

Fashion counted for some Vikings, researcher says

Vikings were much snappier dressers than thought, according to new evidence unearthed by a Swedish researcher.

The men were especially vain while the women dressed provocatively, adorning themselves in vivid colors, silk ribbons and glittering bits of mirrors, said Annika Larsson, a textile researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden.

"They combined oriental features with Nordic styles," she said in a statement. "Their clothing was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire."

The findings are based on the Swedish Vikings who traveled east into what is now Russia rather than the Danish or Norwegian Vikings who went west.

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Tuesday 26 February 2008

Vikings did not dress the way we thought

Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons, and glittering bits of mirrors - the Vikings dressed with considerably more panache than we previously thought. The men were especially vain, and the women dressed provocatively, but with the advent of Christianity, fashions changed, according to Swedish archeologist Annika Larsson.

"They combined oriental features with Nordic styles. Their clothing was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire," says textile researcher Annika Larsson, whose research at Uppsala University presents a new picture of the Viking Age.

She has studied textile finds from the Lake Malaren Valley, the area that includes Stockholm and Uppsala and was one of the central regions in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. The findings, some of which were presented in her dissertation last year, show that what we call the Viking Age, the years from 750-1050 A.D., was not a uniform period.

Through changes in the style of clothing we can see that medieval Christian fashions hit Sweden as early as the late 900s and that new trade routes came into use then as well. The oriental features in clothing disappeared when Christianity came and they started to trade with the Christian Byzantine and Western Europe.

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Sunday 24 February 2008

Chessmen keepers reveal fear of 'Gallic hotheads'

STORNOWAY and Paris are normally difficult to confuse, but a spelling gaffe in a British Museum memo managed to mix the Gaels and the Gauls.

A document which suggested "Gallic hotheads" might seize the Lewis chessmen has come to light, much to the bemusement of islanders who have in turn accused museum officials of "ignorance".

The museum has claimed the reference is nothing more than a "spelling error".

But the gaffe has been seized on by locals who believe that metropolitan prejudice shows why the chessmen should be "repatriated".

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Saturday 16 February 2008

Get your hands on Viking relics

RESIDENTS have the chance to find out how Vikings spent their free time when a city centre excavation site opens its doors.

As part of the Jorvik Viking Festival, York Archaeological Trust is offering public access to the Hungate excavation site, just off Stonebow, today and tomorrow.

The open days are free and everyone has the chance to examine artefacts dug up at the site which include 1,200-year-old Viking ice-skates made from bone.

It will show Roman, medieval and Viking finds, which reveal how people lived in the area.

Experts will be on hand to answer any questions.

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Friday 15 February 2008

Viking centre leader honoured by city

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST has been honoured in recognition of his dedicated work in the city.

Dr Peter Addyman, the former Director of York Archaeological Trust, officially collected the title of Honorary Freeman at a ceremony the Mansion House on Wednesday 13 February.

The honour is given to those who have served the city with distinction, or those with very notable links to the city.

The recommendation was put to the council by the Guild of Freemen of the city of York, nominated at a meeting of the council by Coun Stephen Galloway and seconded by the deputy leader of the council Coun David Scott.

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Wednesday 13 February 2008

Sea Stallion from Glendalough

Newsletter 24. issue - February the 13th, 2008

The Sea Stallion’s new crew selected

Sea Stallion not sailing to London

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Tuesday 12 February 2008

Viking women had sexy style

Women who lived in the major Viking settlement called Birka in the 9th and 10th centuries dressed in a much more provocative manner than previously believed.

When the area around Lake Mälaren was Christianized about a century later, women’s dress style became more modest, according to archaeologist Annika Larsson.

Previously, it was thought that Viking ladies wore a long garment held up by braces, made of square pieces of wool whose front and back sides were contained with a belt. The characteristic decorative circular buckles, a common find at many Viking-era grave sites, were believed to have been worn at the collarbone.

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Sunday 10 February 2008

Unravelling the Northwest's Viking past

The blood of the Vikings is still coursing through the veins of men living in the North West of England — according to a new study which has been just published.

Focusing on the Wirral in Merseyside and West Lancashire the study of 100 men, whose surnames were in existence as far back as medieval times, has revealed that 50 per cent of their DNA is specifically linked to Scandinavian ancestry.

The collaborative study, by The University of Nottingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, reveals that the population in parts of northwest England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, about the same as modern Orkney.

The 14-strong research team, funded by the Wellcome Trust and a prestigious Watson-Crick DNA anniversary award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), was led by the University of Nottingham’s Professor Stephen Harding and Professor Judith Jesch and the University of Leicester’s Professor Mark Jobling.

Read the rest of this article...

You can read the research article here...

Monday 4 February 2008


Archaeologists have discovered a cemetery dating back 1,500 years at the site of a new school near Doncaster.

The exciting find, which consists of 35 burials, was made by a team from the Archaeological Research and Consultancy at the University of Sheffield (ARCUS) prior to the construction of the new North Ridge Special School in Adwick le Street.

“It is not every day that we find something as interesting as this,” said Richard O’Neill, ARCUS Project Manager. “Builders often ask us ‘have you found any old bones?’ This time we can say ‘Yes!’”

Investigations have shown that the remains date from between the 5th and 9th centuries, when the area was occupied by Saxons and Vikings. The burials are thought to be pre-Christian because of their south-west to north-east orientation.

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Sunday 3 February 2008

Discovery Rewrites Viking history

The discovery of two massive Viking halls in Borre in Vestfold County gives archeologists reason to reassess the distribution of power in Viking Norway.

Vestfold County archeologists presented finds on Wednesday that show there are two great hall buildings underneath the ground about 100 meters from the major burial mounds at Borre.

The Borre mounds are the largest grouping of monumental burial mounds from the late Iron Age, between 560-1050 AD. There are seven large burial mounds at Borre, and over 30 smaller mounds, all have been opened or plundered.

One of the halls is believed to be up to 40 meters (131 feet) long and 12 to 13 meters (39-42 feet) high, the largest found in Vestfold.

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(This dates to 5 December 2007, but I have only just seen the article)

Thursday 31 January 2008

Viking burial site found

ONE of South Yorkshire's most significant archaeological finds ever has been unearthed during work to build a multi-million pound special school.

Experts have discovered the remains of 35 ancient bodies - thought to be Vikings or Saxons - in a burial site which could date back as far as the fifth century.

They have been found as part of site preparations for the construction of the new North Ridge Community School in Adwick, in the grounds of North Doncaster Technology College.

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Builders dig up 35 skeletons

BUILDERS working on the site of a new school have stumbled across what could be one of the most historic finds ever unearthed in Doncaster.

Archaeologists have confirmed that an ancient burial site containing 35 graves could date back to the days when the area was occupied by Saxons then Vikings.

The exciting find comes seven years after the discovery of the grave of a Viking woman who tests showed had travelled to Doncaster from Norway as an immigrant, proving for the first time that Vikings had settled in the area.

The latest discovery, in the grounds of North Doncaster Technology College in Adwick le Street, is believed to be the only one of its kind in South Yorkshire and is attracting interests from archaeologists across the region.

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Monday 28 January 2008

Minister rules out 'nonsense' chessmen bid

A SCOTTISH Government campaign to house the historic Lewis chessmen north of the Border has been branded "a lot of nonsense" by UK Culture Minister Margaret Hodge.

Most of the 13th-century figurines are housed at the British Museum in London, but First Minister Alex Salmond recently backed calls for their return to Scotland.

They were found on a beach near Uig on the Isle of Lewis around 1830. But Ms Hodge said the artefacts were made in Norway about 850 years ago and buried on Lewis for safekeeping, a position held by experts.

She also questioned whether the SNP policy would mean the repatriation of valuable artefacts from Scottish museums.

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Sunday 27 January 2008

Piece talks over ancient chessmen

The culture minister has visited the British Museum in London in an attempt to have the historic Lewis chessmen returned to Scotland.

The 13th Century figures were found on a beach on the Isle of Lewis in about 1830 and most are kept at the museum.

Linda Fabiani asked the museum's deputy director to consider their return.

The British Museum said the figures probably originated from Norway and had frequently been loaned to museums in Scotland.

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Hodge attacks Salmond's Chessmen gambit

UK CULTURE minister Margaret Hodge has dismissed Alex Salmond's demand for the Lewis Chessmen to be returned to Scotland as "nonsense".

Writing in today's Scotland on Sunday, she accuses the First Minister of "creating conflict, not culture" with his call for the artefacts, found on a beach in Lewis in the 19th century, to be "seized" from their home in the British Museum in London.

And she suggests that the chessmen do no necessarily belong in Scotland anyway, pointing out that they were made in Norway and buried in Lewis at time when the Western Isles belonged to Norway, and were on their way to Ireland.

Hodge's intervention came as Scottish Culture Minister Linda Fabiani yesterday travelled to London to view the chessmen and met museum officials to discuss the artefacts' "repatriation".

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Friday 25 January 2008

Latest "Sea Stallion" Newsletter Online

The latest Newsletter about the Havhingsten, or Sea Stallion replica Viking ship is now online.

You can find the newsletter here...

Viking Warship receives DKK 2m

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough, a 30 metre Viking Warship recently featured in a BBC One documentary, has benefited from a 2 million Kronor donation from the Shipowner Carston Brebol Foundation.

This follows an earlier DKK 2m donation, made last year by the foundation. The director of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Tinna Damgard-Sorensen, said "We still have a lot of funds to raise if we are to fulfil our own ambitions for the project and the voyage, so the wonderful donation from the Shipowner Carsten Brebol Foundation will not make us stop fund-raising - it just gives us all tremendous motivation to make more efforts to find the rest of the money. We know it's out there somewhere!

1.9 million people tuned in to a BBC Timewatch programme charting the Sea Stallion's progress as it sailed from Roskilde in Denmark to Dublin in 2007. The Viking Ship Museum has announced that the vessel will leave Dublin on 30th June this year and return to Roskilde, via the south coast of England.

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Saturday 19 January 2008

Lewis Chessmen line gives hope for St Ninian treasure

HIGHLANDS and Islands SNP MSP Dave Thompson has welcomed First Minister Alex Salmond's calls for the "repatriation" of the Lewis Chessmen as being a positive sign for the return of Shetland's St Ninian's Isle treasure.

Mr Thompson has been working closely with the campaign, backed by The Shetland Times, to secure the return of the St Ninian's Isle Treasure to a display in the new Shetland Museum, and said that this sends a welcome message of support to all local museums.

Mr Thompson has written to both culture minister Linda Fabiani and National Museums Scotland director Gordon Rintoul regarding the plight of Shetland Museum, with copies also being sent to Mr Salmond's office.

He said: "I am pleased the First Minister has decided to raise the matter of the Lewis Chessmen. I think it opens up an interesting debate on how we support our local museums.

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