Tuesday 28 April 2009

Church lot rock actually ancient runestone

An archaeologist says a rock used to mark a parking lot at a church in Sweden is actually a 1,000-year-old runestone.

Stockholm County Museum runic expert Lars Andersson said a rock used to help mark the lot's boundaries is thought to date back to the Viking Age in Sweden, The Local said Friday.

Andersson said in a museum statement the discovery of runic inscriptions on the rock thanks to rainy weather was akin to a "religious experience."

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Exhibition opening 1 May: “Sea Stallion from Glendalough – from dream to reality

The entire exhibition area of the Viking Ship Museum will invite the public inside (and outside) to tell the story of the reconstruction of the Viking Ship Museum, the world’s longest sailing Viking longship.

The exhibition with provide insight, results and experiences from the entire history of the Sea Stallion, from its creation to its epic return voyage to Dublin 2007-08.

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Sunday 19 April 2009

Shamans and Archaeology

What are the archaeological signatures of shamans? An interesting paper by Christine VanPool appearing in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology in the nearish future gives us a framework for answering that question.

First VanPool provides a useful delineation of the cultural traits of shamans and priests, which I've used to build a couple of detailed definitions (here: Priest and Shaman). In brief, though, the way VanPool sees it, shamans and priests are two ends of a continuum of religious specialists.

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Saturday 18 April 2009

Raping, pillaging Vikings were progressive

They’ve gone down in history as axe-wielding barbarians who raped their way across Europe. Now they’re enjoying a rehabilitation.

So they weren't really so fearsome?

Apparently not. Historians at a recent conference in Cambridge claim there was a lot more to the Vikings than pillage. Most of the seafaring peoples who came from Norway, Sweden and Denmark between the 8th and 12th centuries – the 'Viking Age' – were farmers and merchants, rather than violent raiders, and wherever they settled they brought advanced skills in leather and wood-work and soon integrated into local communities. You might even call them 'progressive'. Women, who were free to trade and participate in political and religious life, were afforded considerable respect, as witnessed by the riches found in their graves. Vikings were also in touch with their softer side, fussy about appearance and hygiene and very fashion-conscious. Archaeologists find more Viking combs than either swords or axes.

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Wednesday 1 April 2009

New find reveals Vikings may have worn horned helmets after all

A rather nice April Fool spoof article by the CBA

The imaginative depictions of Vikings popularised by national romanticism during the nineteenth century may not have been so wide of the mark, it seems.

Horned helmet BA 103 A new find from the far north of Scotland suggests that contrary to popular belief, the Vikings did in fact wear horned helmets.

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