Wednesday 29 December 2010

Popular Archaeology Magazine Launched

Popular Archaeology magazine is a 100% online periodical dedicated to participatory, or public, archaeology. Unlike most other major magazines related to archaeology, no paper copies will ever be produced and distributed, so it will always be "green", and it will always be less costly to produce and therefore far less costly to purchase by premium subscribers (although regular subscriptions are always free). Most of our writers and contributors are either professionals or top experts in their fields, or are individuals relating first-hand experiences; however, the magazine is unique among other archaeology-related magazines in that it makes it easy to invite and encourage members of the public (YOU) to submit pertinent articles, blogs, events, directory listings, and classified ads for publication. As a volunteer or student, do you have a fascinating story to tell about an archaeological experience? As a professional archaeologist, scholar, educator, or scientist, do you have a discovery, program or project that you think would be of interest to the world? Do you have an archaeology-related service or item for sale? Would you like to have your archaeology-related blog post featured on the front page? ( Ad and specially featured item prices are lower than what you will find in any other major archaeology magazine). Through Popular Archaeology, you can realize all of these things. Moreover, because the content is produced by a very broad spectrum of contributors, you will see more feature articles than what you would typically find in the major print publications, with the same content quality.

As a community of professionals, writers, students, and volunteers, we invite you to join us as subscribers in this adventure of archaeological discovery. It could open up a whole new world for you.

Read the magazine...

Archaeologists to probe Sherwood Forest's 'Thing'

A team of experts hope to shed new light on one of Nottinghamshire's most mysterious ancient monuments.

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

In January 2011 experts plan to survey the hill and see if they can detect signs of buried archaeology and the extent of the site.

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Tuesday 28 December 2010

Did the Scots visit Iceland? New research reveals island inhabited 70 years before Vikings thought to have arrived

It is now thirty years since clerics, who live on the island [Thule] from the first of February to the first of August, told me that not only at the summer solstice, but in the days round about it, the sun setting in the evening hides itself as though behind a small hill in such a way that there was no darkness in that very small space of time... – Dicuil, an Irish monk, writing in AD 825, translation by J.J. Tierney.

New archaeological discoveries show that Iceland was inhabited around AD 800 – nearly 70 years before the traditional dating of its Viking settlement.

One possibility is that these early inhabitants may have been related to Irish monastic communities found throughout the Scottish islands at that time, and described in Viking-Age and medieval texts.

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Wednesday 15 December 2010

Jólabókaflóðið, Part I: Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages

I have rather a backlog of recent books to announce. Many thanks to everybody who’s sent notices of publications to me (and, in a couple of cases, even actual books!), and apologies for the tardiness.

In the run up to Christmas I shall try to tell you about as many of these new books as possible–who knows, it might not be too late to buy one for a family member or co-worker! (If you click on the links here and then subsequently purchase the volume at Amazon, a tiny percentage is returned to me, which I put towards the costs of hosting ONN.)

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Tuesday 14 December 2010

Medieval scholar to take one-year trip to explore Iceland’s sagas

A Cambridge scholar is starting a one-year journey across Iceland, to examine the history and significance of Icelandic sagas. Dr Emily Lethbridge, who just completed her post-doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, will be driving around the small nation using an old ambulance as she explores the many places associated with Íslendingasögur (‘sagas of Icelanders’).

The sagas focus on Iceland and Icelandic society in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, and describe both the everyday life of the first generations of island-settlers, and the conflicts that arose between individuals and families. Along the way, they present a great number of highly individual and memorable characters.

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Saturday 20 November 2010

EMAS Easter Study Tour to Denmark

20 - 27 April 2011

The full details of the EMAS (the University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society) Easter archaeological study tour to Denmark are now available online.

The EMAS Easter Archaeological Study Tour will be a tour of many of the major Early Medieval and Viking Period sites in Denmark.

The itinerary will include sites such as the Viking Age fort at Fyrkat, the amazing cemetery at Lindholme Høje with its ship-shaped setting in stone, the great mounds at Jelling together with the rune stones and, of course, the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde and the VikingCenter at Ribe, which has been described as the best Viking museum in the world.

You can find the details here...

Learning more about Thanet's Viking past

DISCOVER the stories behind Vikings that splashed ashore at Pegwell with two forays into the past this week, on Sunday at Quex and next Monday in Broadstairs.

In the second in our occasional History Beneath Our Feet series, Marilyn Bishop from the Isle of Thanet Archaeology Society (IOTA) talks about what she describes as "one of the most fascinating yet still little-known times in the history of Thanet" – the Dark Ages.

She said: "When the Roman army departed in 410 AD the country, left to the mercy of raiders from across the North Sea, descended into chaos.

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How did the Norse really colonize Greenland?

Almost everybody have sometime heard or read about what is often referred to as the ferocious Vikings sometimes also called Norsemen or Norse for short. You may also have heard about how the man known as Eric the Red discovered Greenland. But that is not entirely true!

But before telling the story of Eric the Red and Greenland let’s look at what could have driven the people from mostly Scandinavia going on explorations across the world. The medieval written sources and also the rune stones reveal a society which seems to somewhat have encouraged people travelling abroad to do great deeds.

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Vikings brought Amerindian to Iceland 1,000 years ago: study

The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests.

The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus travelled to the "New World."

Spain's CSIC scientific research institute said genetic analysis of around 80 people from a total of four families in Iceland showed they possess a type of DNA normally only found in Native Americans or East Asians.

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Friday 19 November 2010

Vikings Possibly Carried Native American to Europe

Medieval texts suggest the Vikings arrived in the New World more than 1,000 years ago.

The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests.

The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus traveled to the "New World."

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Tuesday 9 November 2010

'Vikings were murdered in Oxford'

Archeological studies have revealed that Viking settlers of Oxford were brutally killed and dumped in a ditch in an ethnic cleansing plan some 1,000 years ago.

Remains of 34 to 38 young men were discovered in March 2008 during excavations for a new college building.

The bones dated back to between 960 and 1020 CE and included cracked skulls. Some of the skeletons bore stab wounds in their spines and pelvic bones. There were also signs of burning.

Five had been stabbed in the back, and one had been decapitated.

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Monday 8 November 2010

Viking life on display in Aberdeen

An exhibition inspired by Viking life has opened in Aberdeen.

Exposure is a sound and light installation at Satrosphere and runs until 6 December.

Studies of soil samples dated up to one thousand years old at a Norse settlement in southern Greenland gave clues to the harsh life experienced by settlers at the time.

Dr Paul Adderley, environmental scientist at the University of Stirling, worked with composer Dr Michael Young of Goldsmiths, University of London.

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Experts reveal brutal Viking massacre

VIKING skeletons buried beneath an Oxford college were the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing 1,000 years ago, archaeologists have discovered.

Experts were mystified when they discovered a mass grave beneath a quadrangle a St John’s College, St Giles, in 2008.

But, after two years of CSI-style detective work, they believe they can pinpoint the exact day in 1002 AD that Danish settlers were rounded up on the streets of Oxford and murdered, before being carted out of the city gates and dumped in a ditch.

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Wednesday 20 October 2010

Archeologists aim to shed light on Sherwood Forest ancient monument

ARCHEOLOGISTS are bidding to shed light on one of Notts' most mysterious ancient monuments.

Three years ago the Forestry Commission revealed that the Friends of Thynghowe had found a Viking meeting place in the Birklands, part of Sherwood Forest, near Mansfield.

The earthen mound has now been listed on English Heritage's National Monument Record.

New studies have also found the name Thynghowe in an ancient Sherwood Forest book dated to around the 1200s.

But more research is needed to understand its mysterious story.

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Sunday 17 October 2010

Who Ate All the Pigs in Medieval Denmark?

It’s fair to assume that Valdemar the Conqueror, while ruling over Denmark in the early 1200s, ate like a king. But, what was the diet like for the peasants below him? The answer depends on where in Denmark the peasants called home.

Radford University anthropology professor Cassady Yoder researched the diets of peasants of medieval Denmark and found a significant difference in the foods consumed by those living in rural areas as opposed to city-dwelling peasants. Yoder’s research was published in the September issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

As part of her research, Yoder examined the diet of Dane peasants in Ribe, Denmark’s largest city during medieval times, the mid-sized city of Viborg and the population buried at a rural Cistercian monastery. Yoder found significant regional variation among the different sites. She says the city dwellers in Ribe and Viborg ate more protein rich foods such as meat from cows, pigs and fish.

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Tuesday 12 October 2010

Hungate dig to feature on Time Team

The Hungate excavation is the biggest ever archaeological dig in York city centre.

Highlights of the dig include uncovering part of a 1,700 year old Roman cemetery and learning more about Viking York.

The dig began in 2007 and is scheduled to take five years, at a cost of £3.3 million.

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Viking treasure discovered in North Yorkshire village

A VIKING treasure pendant, which has laid buried for more than 1,000 years, has been unearthed by an amateur archaeologist.

The silver pendant, known as Thor's Hammer, has been declared treasure at an inquest in Harrogate.

It had been found near Coprove in September last year, by metal detectorist Michael Smith, who, not knowing what it was, had dismissed it as worthless.

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Monday 11 October 2010

Weymouth's Vikings set for Time Team

THE Vikings are coming… on a Time Team special featuring war graves on the Weymouth relief road route.

The mass burial pit was unearthed in June, 2009 on the top of the Ridgeway with 50 decapitated skulls and the bodies strewn nearby.

The grim discovery will be included in a show called In The Real Vikings: A Time Team Special on Monday, October 11 at 8pm on Channel 4.

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'Mini-Pompeii' Found in Norway

Norwegian archaeologists have unearthed a Neolithic “mini Pompeii” at a campsite near the North Sea, they announced this week.

Discovered at Hamresanden, not far from Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in southern Norway, the settlement has remained undisturbed for 5,500 years, buried under three feet of sand.

“We expected to find an 'ordinary' Scandinavian Stone Age site, badly preserved and small. Instead, we discovered a unique site, buried under a thick sand layer,” lead archaeologist Lars Sundström, of the Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo, told Discovery News.

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Archaeologists find ‘mini-Pompeii’

The most well-preserved pottery from the Stone Age ever found in Norway has turned up in an unspoiled dwelling site not far from Kristiansand. The find is considered an archaeological sensation.

The discovery of a “sealed” Stone Age house site from 3500 BC has stirred great excitement among archaeologists from Norway’s Museum of Cultural History at the University in Oslo. The settlement site at Hamresanden, close to Kristiansand’s airport at Kjevik in Southern Norway, looks like it was covered by a sandstorm, possibly in the course of a few hours.

The catastrophe for the Stone Age occupants has given archaeologists an untouched “mini-Pompeii,” containing both whole and reparable pots.

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Monday 4 October 2010

New images may yield Viking ships

Archaeologists think they have found two more Viking ships buried in Vestfold County south of Oslo. The biggest may be 25 metres long, larger than any found so far.

This image, and another like it, may lead archaeologists to the discovery of more Viking ships buried south of Oslo. PHOTO: LBI ArchPro/NIKU

Road construction near the old Viking trading center at Kaupang has led to the discovery of two large ship silhouettes on ground radar pictures. The pictures have been made possible through a venture involving the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, NIKU) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Prospection and Virtual Archeology.

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Tuesday 28 September 2010

How global warming is aiding – and frustrating – archaeologists

From hunting gear to shoes, ancient artefacts once covered by ice are being unearthed in Norway. Now scientists face a race against time to preserve them

Archaeologists have gained an unexpected benefit from global warming. They have discovered melting ice sheets and glaciers are exposing ancient artefacts that had been covered with thick layers of ice for millennia.

The discoveries are providing new insights into the behaviour of our ancestors – but they come at a price. So rapid is the rise in global temperatures, and so great is the rate of disintegration of the world's glaciers, that archaeologists risk losing precious relics freed from the icy tombs. Wood rots in a few years once freed from ice while rarer feathers used on arrows, wool or leather, crumble to dust in days unless stored in a freezer. As a result, archaeologists are racing against time to find and save these newly exposed wonders.

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Friday 24 September 2010

Long-Sought Viking Settlement Found

The Vikings, the famed Scandinavian warriors, started raiding Ireland in 795 and plundered it for decades, before establishing two Irish outposts, according to the Annals of Ulster, a 15th century account of medieval Ireland. One outpost, Dúbh Linn, became Dublin, the other, Linn Duchaill, was lost in time. Perhaps until now. A team of archaeologists announced on Friday that it has found the lost Viking settlement near the village of Annagassan, 70 kilometers north of Dublin. "We are unbelievably delighted," said archaeologist and team leader, Mark Clinton, an independent archaeological consultant.

The Annagassan locals have long believed they lived near an ancient Viking town or fort. The stories of Viking raids were told to local children by schoolteachers, and there were also occasional finds that underscored this story. For example, a few years ago, a set of handcuffs once used to shackle Viking slaves was found by a farmer ploughing land. The modern search for Linn Duchaill began 5 years ago when a local filmmaker named Ruth Cassidy, a member of the Annagassan and District Historical Society, enlisted the help of Clinton, a family friend, to find the lost Viking town. They searched through 2005, 2006, and 2007 and were on the point of despair when they came across a flat area—ideal for lifting boats out of the water for shipbuilding and repairs—a couple of kilometers up the River Glyde. They managed to secure funding to pay for a geophysicist, John Nicholls, to survey the site. Nicholls found a series of defensive ditches about 4 meters deep, running in lines. The pattern of ditches does not seem compatible with the typical Irish structure of the period, a ring fort, and no evidence of a Norman settlement, such as moat or castle remains, was found. That left just one other option: Vikings.

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Marauding Vikings' ale packs a real punch

A team of archaeologists has recreated the heather ale drunk by marauding Vikings to boost their ferocity in battle.

Galway archaeologists Billy Quinn and Nigel Malcolm and businessman Declan Moore have been involved in their "great experiment" for the past three years, sampling Bronze Age brews and unearthing Ireland's ancient recipes and beer-making traditions.

The intrepid trio have just brewed their first heather ale using a recipe believed to date back to the 8th century AD.

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Tuesday 21 September 2010

Online Courses in Archaeology with the University of Oxford

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.

Our courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

View the courses available this term...

Ancient Arabian treasure trove unearthed in Germany

Archaeologists in northern Germany have unearthed a treasure of Arabian silver dirhams dating back to the first half of the seventh century in a spectacular find that proves brisk trade between the Middle East and northern Europe already existed more than 1,200 years ago.

A total of 82 coins were found in a field near the town of Anklam, a few kilometres from the Baltic Sea coast, in excavations completed on September 2. They come from regions that are now Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and northern Africa. The oldest coins, about an inch in diameter, were minted around 610 AD and bear the portrait of Khosrau II, the 22nd Sassanid King of Persia who ruled from 590 to 628 AD.

Other coins in the trove were minted around 820 AD and have inscriptions in Arabic. “They are little works of art with delicately engraved writing on them,” Fred Ruchhöft, an archaeologist and historian at the nearby University of Greifswald who has analysed the find, said in an interview. “It’s good silver. It just needs a clean and then it’s like new.”

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Monday 20 September 2010

Viking Fortress Discovered in Ireland

A Viking fortress of major importance has been discovered at Annagassan, County Louth in Ireland. The extensive site, which was uncovered following targeted research excavation, is believed to be the infamous Viking base of Linn Duchaill. A defensive rampart, consisting of a deep ditch and a bank, was excavated and while radio carbon dates are awaited to confirm the date the rampart has all the appearances of the main fortification of the Viking Fortress.

Linn Duchaill was founded by Vikings in 841 AD – according to medieval Irish annals, the Norsemen used this place to raid throughout Ireland, trade good and export Irish slaves. A battle was recorded as having taken place her in 851, and in 927 the Vikings abandoned Linn Duchaill in order to move to Britain.

The archaeological work was only started three weeks ago on a stretch of farm land between the coast and the river Glyde. Finds of Viking ship rivets and cut-up Viking silver and looted Irish metalwork also appears to be amongst the excavated material.

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Friday 17 September 2010

I am a Viking! DNA test reveals shock result for Leicestershire villager

Little did village heritage warden Wayne Coleman realise what a simple DNA test would reveal about his family.

He had just wanted to help build up a picture of the history of his home village of Kibworth Beauchamp.

For hundreds of years the Coleman family has been part of the rural life of the community.

Mr Coleman, who has done much to protect the fabric of the village, readily took the swab of the inside of his mouth and sent off the sample.

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Investigating Ragnar Shaggy-Breeches

Dr Elizabeth Ashman Rowe, Lecturer in Scandinavian History in ASNC, writes about her current research on Ragnar Loðbrók:

One of my current research projects has to do with a legendary Viking named Ragnar Loðbrók. His nickname means ‘Shaggy Breeches’, and my husband likes to refer to him as ‘Ragnar Shaggy-Pants’. According to Ragnar’s saga (here illustrated by Niels Skovgaard), Ragnar got his nickname from the time that he killed a serpent, protected from the monster’s venom by a suit of fur clothing dipped in tar. As you might expect, by killing the serpent he won the hand of the lovely Thora. The story of Ragnar was very popular in Iceland in the Middle Ages, and Ragnar was believed to have been a real person, and even the ancestor of certain Icelanders. My project is to survey these references to Ragnar and to investigate what he meant to different authors.

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Wednesday 15 September 2010

Melting glaciers expose artifacts

Climate change in northern Europe is exposing hunting gear used by the Vikings' ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it. Stuart McDill reports.

Watch the video...

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Viking silver found on Isle of Man declared as treasure

A rare Viking silver ingot found in the North of the Island has been declared as treasure trove by the Coroner at Douglas Courthouse.

The ingot was found in a field in Andreas by John Crowe in October 2009.

Manx National Heritage believe the ingot, which contains 87% silver and weighs 20 grams, could date back a thousand years.

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FEATURE-Home of "Ice Giants" thaws, shows pre-Viking hunts

Climate change is exposing reindeer hunting gear used by the Vikings' ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it from ice thawing in northern Europe's highest mountains.

"It's like a time machine...the ice has not been this small for many, many centuries," said Lars Piloe, a Danish scientist heading a team of "snow patch archaeologists" on newly bare ground 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea level in mid-Norway.

Specialised hunting sticks, bows and arrows and even a 3,400-year-old leather shoe have been among finds since 2006 from a melt in the Jotunheimen mountains, the home of the "Ice Giants" of Norse mythology.

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Sunday 29 August 2010

Long lost Viking gateway found near Schleswig

Archaeologists have found a legendary 1,200-year-old gateway to the massive wall the Vikings built to defend themselves against their rivals the Saxons, according to a Friday media report.

Records of such a gateway existed, but archaeologists were due Friday to announce they had found the actual site, news magazine Der Spiegel reported. The team described the find as a ''sensation.''

The discovery, near the town of Schleswig in Germany's far north near the Danish border, reinforces the view that the Vikings were more than plunderers and pillagers, and that they also built and traded.

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Friday 27 August 2010

Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire

For a century, archeologists have been looking for a gate through a wall built by the Vikings in northern Europe. This summer, it was found. Researchers now believe the extensive barrier was built to protect an important trading route.

Their attacks out of nowhere in rapid longboats have led many to call Vikings the inventors of the Blitzkrieg. "Like wild hornets," reads an ancient description, the Vikings would plunder monasteries and entire cities from Ireland to Spain. The fact that the Vikings, who have since found their place as droll comic book characters, were also avid masons is slightly less well known.

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Saturday 21 August 2010

Scientists develop new methods to discover maritime archaeology

By combining meteorology and archaeology, Norwegian scientists may discover old sea routes and mooring sites, and boost our knowledge of maritime culture dating from the ancient period to the end of the Middle Ages.

“Archaeology has a long-standing tradition in protecting areas on land. But unfortunately, there is little attention to cultural monuments at the sea-shore and under water,” says meteorologist Marianne Nitter at the University of Stavanger’s Museum of Archaeology.

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Friday 13 August 2010

Viking gold ring found in Yorkshire farm field

A gold ring once worn by a Viking was unearthed by a metal detector in a farmer's field in Yorkshire, a treasure trove inquest in Wakefield heard yesterday.

Dating back around 1,000 years, the large gold ring was found last April on pasture land in the Aberford area, east of Leeds. The finger ring, which is 90 per cent gold, was found by a man scouring the land with a metal detector with the permission of the landowner.

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Thursday 12 August 2010

"Thor's Hammer" Found in Viking Graves

Long dismissed as accidental additions to Viking graves, prehistoric "thunderstones"—fist-size stone tools resembling the Norse god Thor's hammerhead—were actually purposely placed as good-luck talismans, archaeologists say.

Using fire-starting rock such as flint, Stone Age people originally created the stones to serve as axes. But the Vikings, whose Iron Age heyday lasted from about A.D. 800 to 1050, saw the primitive tools as lightning repellent.

Because the axes predate the Viking age by thousands of years, archaeologists have long seen the stones as random artifacts, perhaps stirred up from earlier, lower burials or dropped in centuries after the Viking era.

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Friday 6 August 2010

Archaeologists work on Medieval site in Isle of Man

Archaeologists from North America and the UK have been excavating an early Medieval site in the Isle of Man.

The team, along with local volunteers, is investigating Port y Candas, near the Ballacraine crossroads.

Archaeologist Harold Mytum said the site was of "international importance" as it is one of the few pre-Viking settlements known on the island.

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Wednesday 4 August 2010

Neston to Chester pilgrimage marks Wirral’s historic Viking links

WALKERS from across the country joined the annual St Olav Wirral Viking Walk from Neston to Chester.

The 13-mile trek started out from the historic St Mary’s and St Helen’s church, in Neston, which is famous for its Viking burial stone and finished at St Olav’s church in Chester.

The pilgrimage is held each year to commemorate St Olav, the “Viking Saint” and patron saint of Scandinavia, and to celebrate Wirral’s links with the Vikings.

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Friday 23 July 2010

More Staffordshire Hoard items on show

Nineteen pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard have gone on public display for the first time.

They are on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Museum manager Keith Bloor said the function of many of the items was still being researched

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Tuesday 20 July 2010

Jorvik Viking Centre links up with Orchard Energy to cut energy costs

JORVIK Viking Centre has become the latest tourist attraction to link up with Yorkshire energy specialist Orchard as it looks to cut costs without impacting on visitor experience.

With an annual spend of between £80,000 and £90,000 on electricity alone, the York venue’s director of finance, Peter Nicholson, said energy had become one of its biggest overheads and the obvious place to start when making cutbacks.

He said: “We’re a charity and our main objective is to offer people a good value day out and maintain a strong educational focus.

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Sunday 18 July 2010

Medieval Atmosphere in North Iceland

The annual medieval festival at Gásir, an ancient trading point near Akureyri in north Iceland, will take place this weekend. Booths are currently being set up where people dressed in medieval outfits will sell their handicrafts or demonstrate ancient work methods.

“The market will vibrate with life,” Haraldur Ingi Haraldsson, “mayor” of Gásir, told Morgunbladid. “People will demonstrate sulphur cleaning, clay production and repair of utilities. Bows and arrows will be made and ball games played.”

Gásir is located by Eyjafjördur fjord at the mouth of Hörgá river, 11 kilometers north of Akureyri. It was a trading point in the middle ages and probably the most international location in Iceland at that time—foreign merchants came there to sell their goods.

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Thursday 8 July 2010

Oxford University opens Anglo-Saxon archive to online submissions

Widespread interest in last year's discovery of a hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold in Staffordshire has prompted Oxford University to embark on a mission to create the world's largest online archive about the period.

The university is asking members of the public to upload any stories, poems, writing, art or songs they have composed or heard that relate to Old English and the Anglo-Saxons to Project Woruldhord (Old English for "world-hoard"). Oxford is also keen for translations of Anglo-Saxon texts, pictures and videos of Anglo-Saxon buildings or monuments, recordings of Old English, and even videos of historical re-enactments, to be included in the archive.

"We've just appointed a new professor of poetry, Geoffrey Hill, whose Mercian Hymns [about eighth-century ruler King Offa] harks back to the period," said Dr Stuart Lee, who is running Project Woruldhord. "Many other people have also been inspired by the literature and have written their own work."

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Sunday 4 July 2010

Harald Blauzahns Königshof gefunden

In Jelling im dänischen Jütland haben Archäologen Strukturen freigelegt, die vermutlich zum Königshof von Harald Blauzahn gehören. Der König, nach dem die Funktechnik Bluetooth benannt ist, herrschte im 10. Jahrhundert über Dänemark und Norwegen.

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Thursday 24 June 2010

Ten things you didn’t know about the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked exhibition in Edinburgh brings together the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland’s collections of the Lewis Chessmen – a set of medieval gaming pieces, originating most likely from Trondheim in the 12th or 13th century, which were discovered on the Hebridean island of Lewis sometime between 1780 and 1831.

Individually hand-carved from walrus ivory, and numbering 93 pieces in total – 82 of which are held by the British Museum, the remaining 11 by the National Museum of Scotland – the Lewis Chessmen are world famous for their mysterious origins, unique design and curious, almost comical expressions, which range from moody kings to a frightened-looking warder biting down on his shield. They even made a cameo in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Archaeologists uncover Harald Bluetooth’s royal palace

In what they describe as a ‘sensational’ discovery, archaeologists from Århus find the remains of 10th century king’s royal residence

After speculating for centuries about its location, the royal residence of Harald Bluetooth has finally been discovered close to the ancient Jellinge complex with its famous runic stones in southern Jutland.

The remains of the ancient wooden buildings were uncovered in the north-eastern corner of the Jellinge complex which consists of royal burial mounds, standing stones in the form of a ship and runic stones.

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Monday 21 June 2010

Two Birch Bark Manuscripts Found by Schoolgirl

Three ancient birchbark manuscripts and a seal have been discovered at Troitsky archeological pit in Veliki Novgorod.

On June, 17th a schoolgirl named Elizaveta Godunova taking part in the digging found two manuscripts. One of them is a three-line fragment 28 cm long. As roughly estimated by experts it dates back to the early 13th century and, probably, represents a bill of debt, since it monetary units of Old Russia are specified in it. The manuscript has been given the number 974.

Data concerning the second manuscript under the number 975 are still specified, but, according to archeologists, these are two independent documents, not related to each other.

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Friday 18 June 2010

Herbal cold remedy from Iceland

SagaMedica’s online store has launched “SagaVita”, a herbal cold remedy made from Icelandic angelica herb; the same plant Vikings used in herbal medicine a thousand years ago.

There are absolutely, and without a doubt, no accounts of Leif the Lucky ever having suffered from a cold infection.

Leif, like other Vikings, was probably an avid consumer of the angelica herb. And justifiably so, it would seem, as modern research suggests antiviral angelica remedies may be used for preventing colds and other seasonal illnesses.

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Monday 14 June 2010

School set to pay fiery tribute to a Viking past

A Viking boat will be burnt on Broadstairs beach as part of a school’s celebrations to mark its links with the past.

The 32ft-long Viking longship will burn brightly on the beach for about 50 minutes on the evening of Saturday, June 26.

The fire will be lit at 8pm and everyone is invited to attend Viking Bay to watch the spectacle, which is being held to mark Bradstow School’s 100th birthday.

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Wednesday 9 June 2010

Historian reveals new insights into medieval rune stones

It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes. This is shown in new research from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Rune stones are an important part of the Swedish cultural environment. Many of them are still standing in their original places and still bear witness about the inhabitants of the area from a thousand years ago. They thereby represent a unique source of knowledge about the Viking Age, providing us with glimpses of a period we otherwise would have known very little about. Among other themes, they tell us about family relations, travels, or matters of faith, and all of it in a language that scholars can understand fairly readily.

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Tuesday 8 June 2010

Archaeologists given the rune around

A new study of rune stones from Viking times shows that many of the carvings are meaningless

After studying about a thousand inscriptions on ancient rune stones scattered around Scandinavia, a researcher from Uppsala University in Sweden has come to the conclusion that many of the carvings are gibberish.

The researcher claims that the Vikings who carved them couldn’t write and the people who saw them couldn’t read.

‘What was important was showing that you could write,’ explained researcher Marco Bianchi, who is an expert in Nordic languages. ‘What you wrote wasn’t so important since no-one could read it anyway.’

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Sunday 6 June 2010

Priest who led campaign to save Viking site is honoured

THE most important Viking settlement ever found in Europe would have been lost forever were it not for an Augustinian priest who led the public campaign to halt its destruction by Dublin Corporation.

Fr FX Martin, the leader of the 'Save Wood Quay' campaign in the 1970s, was honoured at a ceremony in the National Library yesterday after it acquired his personal papers relating to the struggle, which ultimately failed to stop the local authority from building its civic offices on the site.

Discovered in the late 1970s, there was a public outcry over the decision to destroy the archaeological remains of what was regarded as one of the most important Viking sites in Europe.

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Viking graves found with laser

Archaeologists sitting in front of a PC, dig up one of the largest burial mounds from Viking Age.

Recently they have discovered seven new mounds in an area that already has many others.

“Sparbu of Nord-Trøndelag is about to become the richest of these historical relics,” said county archaeologist Lars Forseth.

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Monday 31 May 2010

A Stone Says More Than a Thousand Runes

It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes. This is shown in new research from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Rune stones are an important part of the Swedish cultural environment. Many of them are still standing in their original places and still bear witness about the inhabitants of the area from a thousand years ago. They thereby represent a unique source of knowledge about the Viking Age, providing us with glimpses of a period we otherwise would have known very little about. Among other themes, they tell us about family relations, travels, or matters of faith, and all of it in a language that scholars can understand fairly readily.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday 21 May 2010

National Museums Scotland Exhibition

Medieval ivory chess pieces from north and south of the border have been reunited for a major exhibition in the Scottish capital.

The Lewis Chessmen (or Uig Chessmen, named after their find-site) are a group of 78 chess pieces from the 12th century most of which are carved in walrus ivory, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. They may constitute some of the few complete medieval chess sets that have survived until today, although it is not clear if any full set as originally made can be made up from the varied pieces. They are currently owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London, which has 67 of them and the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, which has the rest. There has been recent controversy about the most appropriate place for the main display of the pieces.

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Thursday 13 May 2010

Vikings invade for the return of Dublinia

A DISPLAY of more than 700 years of Irish history, beginning with the Scandinavian raiders' settlement in Dublin, has been re-opened to the public after briefly closing its doors during a €2m redevelopment.

Those involved with the relaunch of the 'Dublinia' exhibition at Christchurch in Dublin got into the full medieval spirit yesterday as they donned the traditional clothing and the odd horned Viking helmet.

To help them fully get into the swing of things, music of the time was provided by medieval group Seanma, consisting of five Dun Laoghaire women with instruments such as a Renaissance flute, stringed viols and recorders.

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Tuesday 11 May 2010

Uncovering the Truth About Viking Men

Vikings are associated with weapons and warfare, machismo and mayhem.

But many of them had the same concerns about choosing their children's names as we do, says a researcher from the University of Leicester who delivered his paper at a Viking conference on April 24.

The sixth Midlands Viking Symposium offered a variety of talks by Viking experts from the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham. The symposium took place at the University of Nottingham, and was open to all Viking enthusiasts.

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Thursday 6 May 2010

Remains of 1,100-year-old drinking pot help pinpoint Wallingford's history

A BUILDER’S drinking pot which was smashed more than 1,100 years ago could help archaeologists accurately date the birth of Wallingford for the first time.

Leicester University experts say tiny pottery fragments uncovered in the town’s Anglo-Saxon ramparts could prove Wallingford was first fortified during the reign of Alfred the Great to protect his kingdom from Viking invasion.

Dozens of local volunteers helped sieve a tonne of earth last month during two weeks of excavations in Castle Meadows, where the archaeologists uncovered the ramparts beneath later medieval construction.

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Thursday 29 April 2010

Archaeologists baffled over ‘bizarre’ Viking discovery

A TEAM of Irish archaeologists is puzzled by the "bizarre" discovery of a 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in a cave in the Burren.

Besides being the largest by far – up to 12 times longer than previous finds – the team is puzzled by how such a "high-status" Viking treasure came to lie in the Burren, an area never settled by the Norsemen.

The site where the necklace was found at Glencurran Cave was described by team leader Dr Marion Dowd of Sligo IT as a "treasure trove" for archaeologists.

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Wednesday 28 April 2010

Viking treasure found in cave baffles experts

IRISH archaeologists have been left baffled by the 'bizarre' discovery of a 1,150-year-old Viking necklace in a Burren cave.

The necklace is the largest Viking necklace to be discovered in Ireland.

Dr Marion Dowd, of Sligo IT, is leading the excavation of Glencurran Cave in the Burren National Park, which she described as a "treasure trove" for archaeologists.

The necklace was one of the major items discovered in the dig and is described as a "stunning piece of jewellery" by Dr Dowd.

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Tuesday 20 April 2010

Runic Seminar at Aberdeen

There will be a one-day seminar on Runes in Context: Runes, Runic Inscriptions, Early Scandinavian Society and Early Germanic Languages at the University of Aberdeen on 3 May. I don’t have very much information about it, but the speakers have been confirmed–assuming the volcano stops doing its dirty work–as:

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Sunday 18 April 2010

Social Networks for Archaeology

The power and importance of social networks are growing all the time, not least in the field of archaeology.

I thought that it would be useful to compile a list of these sites for archaeology. The list as it stands at the moment can be found here….

Obviously, this list is very incomplete at the moment, so if you know of any archaeological social network site that should be added, please give details on the form here…

Sunday 11 April 2010

Ireland promotes the Viking Triangle of Waterford as a tourist destination

Ireland's government has announced that funding of almost €9 million has been provisionally allocated under Fáilte Ireland's Tourism Capital Investment Programme for the development of museums and other tourist attractions in the centre of Waterford, known collectively as the Viking Triangle.

The objective of Waterford City Council is to create within the Viking Triangle an iconic heritage based tourist attraction to be titled ‘The Viking Triangle - A Thousand Years of History in a Thousand Paces’. The Viking Triangle forms one part of a larger overall project, the other being the development of the new Waterford Crystal Experience. This significant investment reflects the Government's determination to support tourism which the Government has identified as a vital export-oriented service industry.

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Tuesday 6 April 2010

Archeology: When did the First Settlers Come to Iceland?

One of the things that makes Iceland unique in Europe is the fact that Icelanders know the year the first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, came to Iceland from Norway. The Icelandic script, Íslendingabók (Book of Icelanders), written by Ari the wise, tells of the first men coming to Iceland on explorations.

Three expeditions came to Iceland, but the first men who came to Iceland to live there permanently were Ingólfur and Hjörleifur. The two came to Iceland in 874. Hjörleifur was killed by his slaves, which only left Ingólfur and his wife Hallgerdur Fródadóttir. They settled in Reykjavík, now the capital of Iceland. An excavation in the center of Reykjavík seems to indicate that this story might be true. It shows that the remnants of building stem from the year 871+/-2 years. That website is worth examining. It has a number of interactive features and recreates the 871 environment.

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Monday 22 March 2010

Ridgeway Vikings exhibition attracts huge crowds

THOUSANDS gathered at an exhibition in Weymouth to see the archaeological treasures unearthed during building of the town’s Relief Road.

The Pavilion Ocean Room was transformed into an Aladdin’s Cave of ancient bones, Iron Age pottery, jewellery and other finds.

Crowds filled the hall keen to learn more about the discoveries, including the Viking remains found in a mass grave at the top of Ridgeway.

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Friday 19 March 2010

Greenland Vikings ‘had Celtic blood’

Greenland Vikings ‘had Celtic blood’
Norsemen who settled in southern Greenland carried more Celtic than Nordic blood – but they were still decidedly Scandinavian

An analysis of DNA from a Viking gravesite near a 1000 year-old church in southern Greenland shows that those buried there had strong Celtic bloodlines, reported science website

The analysis – performed by Danish researchers on bones from skeletons found during excavations in south Greenland – revealed that the settlers’ Nordic blood was mixed with Celtic blood, probably originating from the British Isles.

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See also Vikinger havde keltisk blod i årerne

Thursday 18 March 2010

Weymouth ridgeway skeletons 'Scandinavian Vikings'

Fifty-one decapitated skeletons found in a burial pit in Dorset were those of Scandinavian Vikings, scientists say.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the group since they were discovered at Ridgeway Hill, near Weymouth, in June.

Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.

Watch the video...

Illegal metal detecting crackdown

Archaeologists are to team up with police in a bid to crack down on illegal metal detecting in Norfolk.

Norfolk has the highest number of recovered artefacts in the country declared treasure and a successful long-established working relationship with legitimate metal- detecting enthusiasts.

There were 109 cases of items found in Norfolk being declared treasure in 2008-09. Recent finds include a hoard of 24 Henry III short-cross pennies in Breckland, and an early Saxon gold spangle from south Norfolk.

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Wednesday 17 March 2010

51 Headless Vikings in English Execution Pit Confirmed

Naked, beheaded, and tangled, the bodies of 51 young males found in the United Kingdom have been identified as brutally slain Vikings, archaeologists announced Friday.

The decapitated skeletons—their heads stacked neatly to the side—were uncovered in June 2009 in a thousand-year-old execution pit near the southern seaside town of Weymouth (United Kingdom map).

Already radio-carbon dating results released in July had shown the men lived between A.D. 910 and 1030, a period when the English fought—and often lost—battles against Viking invaders. (Related: "Viking Weapon-Recycling Site Found in England?")

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Teeth tests show victims from mass war grave in Weymouth pit could have been Swedish

"Painstaking" analysis of teeth from ten of the executed corpses found in a mass grave on the Weymouth Olympic Relief Road last summer has revealed the slaughtered remains may have belonged to Vikings from Scandinavia and the Polar regions.

Isotope tests showed the men had grown up in a cold, non-chalk climate with a predominantly protein-based diet, nodding to research collected on bodies from Swedish and Arctic Circle sites.

Strontium and oxygen samples were used to determine the local geology and climate of their native countries, supported by carbon and nitrogen investigations reflecting their likely eating patterns.

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Weymouth Relief Road archaeology day school

Spaces are still available on the Weymouth Relief Road archaeology day school this Saturday, 20 March.

Tickets cost £12, and the day includes presentations by Oxford Archaeology, Wessex Archaeology and Dorset County Museum, as well as having access to the exhibition.

To book a space call Dorset County Council senior archaeologist Claire Pinder on 01305 224921, you will then be able to pick your ticket up on the door.

Limited space – over 200 tickets sold so far!

If you don’t book, you can’t come in!

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Sunday 14 March 2010

Decapitated Viking Skeletons found near Weymouth

The archaeological news recently has been full of articles concerning the decapitated skeletons found during the excavations for the Weymouth Relief Road.

With so many news reports it is often difficult to separate the journalistic hyperbole from the facts, and one often has to look at several reports even to begin to get the full picture.

This website draws together the important facts and gives links to informative press releases. The last page contains links to a video and collections of pictures of the excavations.

You can find the website here…

Dig may find signs of Viking town in Thetford

Archaeologists hope to find signs of an old Viking town during excavations in Norfolk.

The dig at the Anchor Hotel in Bridge Street, Thetford, is being carried out ahead of a possible redevelopment of the area.

The proximity of the Little Ouse river means there is every likelihood of well preserved remains under the car park, Breckland District Council said.

It is expected the work will take up to six weeks, depending on what is found.

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Saturday 13 March 2010

Ridgeway Viking grave: Historian's hope

HISTORIAN Stuart Morris is hoping the bones will shed more light on when Vikings were first believed to have arrived on the British Isles at Portland in 787.

He said Anglo Saxon chronicles have shown that on their arrival the Shire Reeve, or sheriff of Dorchester, travelled to Portland to meet and trade with the Vikings but was killed.

And Mr Morris is hoping the discovery of the bones on the Ridgeway might reveal what happened when the Shire Reeve met them.

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Ridgeway Viking grave: Finds to go on display

FINDS from the Viking grave and other archaeological sites unearthed along the route of the Weymouth Relief Road are going on display later this month.

The Pavilion Ocean Room will be turning into an Aladdin’s cave of archaeological treasure as exhibits are laid out.

During the free event, ancient bones, Iron Age pottery, shale jewellery and many other finds will be on display.

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1,000-Year-Old Massacre Uncovered in England

A macabre and forgotten episode from the Dark Ages has been uncovered by British researchers after they examined dozens of beheaded skeletons.

Mystery surrounded the identity of the victims since they were discovered by accident last June near Weymouth, Dorset, England, when workers at a 2012 building site, stumbled across a burial pit.

The grave contained a mass of bones and 51 skulls neatly stacked in a pile.

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Beheaded Vikings found at Olympic site

They were 51 young men who met a grisly death far from home, their heads chopped off and their bodies thrown into a mass grave.

Their resting place was unknown until last year, when workers excavating for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, England, unearthed the grave. But questions remained about who the men were, how long they had been there and why they had been decapitated.

On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men's teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.

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Friday 12 March 2010

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology

Exploring Roman Britain (starts April 2010)

Origins of Human Behaviour (starts April 2010)

Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World (starts May 2010)

Ritual and Religion in Prehistory (starts April 2010)

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (starts May 2010)

Click on the course title for further details.

Scottish MP demands return of the Lewis Chessmen

A Scottish Member of Parliament is demanding that the entire collection of Lewis Chessmen be permanently kept in Scotland. He is upset that the British Museum, which houses some of these medieval figures, is now saying that the chessmen were created in Norway instead of northern Scotland.

Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil said “The British Museum’s treatment of this link raises real questions about where the chessmen should be displayed permanently.

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Wolfson Foundation grant will help Jorvik Viking Centre put baffling remains on show

THE Jorvik Viking Centre is celebrating a huge cash boost only weeks after the completion of a £1million upgrade.

Bosses at York Archaeological Trust said they hoped the £150,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation would enable them to find a home at Coppergate for some of the region’s most significant archaeological finds of recent years.

John Walker, head of the trust, said he would like to bring to Jorvik the ancient remains of ten Roman York residents which were unearthed at a dig in The Mount area in 2004.

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Decapitated bodies found in Dorset burial pit were executed Vikings

Fifty beheaded young men found in a burial pit last year were probably executed Vikings, archaeologists revealed today.

Teeth samples from 10 of the decapitated warriors discovered in Weymouth, in Dorset, show that they were Scandinavian invaders who fell into the hands of Anglo Saxons.

Dating back to between AD910 and AD1030, the mass war grave is among the largest examples ever found of executed foreigners buried in one spot.

Read the rest of this article...

Weymouth ridgeway skeletons 'Scandinavian Vikings'

Fifty-one decapitated skeletons found in a burial pit in Dorset were those of Scandinavian Vikings, scientists say.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the group since they were discovered at Ridgeway Hill, near Weymouth, in June.

Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.

Read the rest of this article...

See also In pictures: Burial pit (BBC)

Archaeologists uncover headless corpses of 51 Vikings executed by Saxons in Dorset killing field

They knelt and cowered together - a once proud and fearless band of raiders stripped and humiliated by their Saxon captors.

One by one, their executioners stepped forward, uttered a prayer and brought their axes and swords crashing down on the necks of the Viking prisoners.

The axes fell until the roadside was sticky with blood from the decapitated corpses of the 51 men, most barely in their twenties.

Read the rest of this article...

Thursday 11 March 2010

Ancient Norse Settlements Hit Cold Spell

A long cooling period may have led to famine in Greenland and Iceland more than 1,000 years ago.

New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6 degrees Celsius in the century that followed the island's Norse settlement in about A.D. 870, a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Wednesday 10 March 2010

Ancient Norse colonies hit bad climate times

Temperatures in Iceland plummeted soon after settlers arrived

New research reveals just how bad an idea it was to colonize Greenland and Iceland more than a millennium ago: average temperatures in Iceland plummeted nearly 6°Celsius in the century that followed the island’s Norse settlement in about A.D. 870, a climate record gleaned from mollusk shells shows.

The record is the most precise year-by-year chronology yet of temperatures experienced by the northern Norse colonies, says William Patterson, an isotope geochemist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who led the new work. The study will appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Pipeline Engineers Find Historic Shipwrecks in Baltic Sea

Engineers surveying the Baltic Sea for a pipeline project have discovered several historic shipwrecks on the seabed, including an ancient Viking longboat and several ships from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Engineers building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea have discovered a number of old shipwrecks on the seabed near the Swedish island of Gotland, including a 1,000-year-old Viking longboat.

The vessels were discovered during a survey of the seabed being conducted by Nord Stream, a consortium building a 1,200 kilometer (746 mile) pipeline to pump Russian gas from the port of Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald on the German Baltic coast.

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Life of Vikings seen through soil

A scientist and a composer are working together to explore a thousand years of human history through soil samples.

The pair have built an installation in Dundee which tells the story of Viking settlers in Greenland going back to the year 900.

Images of soil samples gathered by Dr Paul Adderley have been set to audio by Dr Michael Young.

Dr Young said: "Hidden in the soil is this story about people and the environment. We explore that."

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Dozen shipwrecks found off the coast of Sweden

A dozen previously unknown shipwrecks, some of them believed to be up to 1,000 years old, were discovered in the Baltic Sea during a probe of the sea bed to prepare for the installation of a large gas pipeline, the Swedish National Heritage Board said Monday.

"It's an important find," said Peter Norman from The Swedish National Heritage Board. "Three of them are three whole hulls. They are standing straight up, 100 metres down on the bottom of the seabed. They are now sealed off and are really of great historical value."

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Trove of shipwrecks found in Baltic Sea

A dozen previously unknown shipwrecks have been found on the bed of the Baltic Sea; some of them are thought to up to 1,000 years old, the Swedish National Heritage Board said on Monday.

The underwater treasure trove of nautical antiquities was discovered during a probe of the sea bed to prepare for the installation of a large gas pipeline.

"We have managed to identify 12 shipwrecks, and nine of them are considered to be fairly old," Peter Norman, a senior advisor with the heritage board, told AFP.

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday 7 March 2010

Change in Blog Address

As you will have noticed, the address for this blog has changed.

This is because Blogger are phasing out their FTP service.

If you have been using an RSS feed for this blog, then you will need to change the address. Simply click on the “Subscribe to Posts [Atom]” at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.

Similarly, if you have been receiving email notifications, you will have to register again using the form in the right-hand sidebar.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

David Beard

Friday 5 March 2010

The Northern World, AD 900-1400 - new book examines the arctic region in the Middle Ages

Idaho State University anthropology Research Professor Herbert Maschner has co-edited the book The Northern World, AD 900-1400, released in December 2009.

The Northern World, AD 900-1400 examines rapid and catastrophic climate changes and social networks in the region of the Arctic from the Bering Straits to Greenland from A.D. 900 through 1400. Maschner and his colleagues acknowledge scientists see the region of the Arctic as a critical modern laboratory for investigating the long-term impact of global warming. The cultures and lives of indigenous people during this time span are examined to understand historical and modern climate and social impacts.

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Wednesday 3 March 2010

Treasures from Orkney Viking burial grave to go on show at York Jorvik

An iron sword, gaming pieces and an arsenal of arrows from a set of antler bone carvings found next to corpses in Viking graves will be revealed by archaeologists in York this May.

The Jorvik Viking Centre has obtained the burial hoard from The Orkney Museum, which has held the remains since they were discovered alongside the bodies of an elderly woman, middle-aged man and a child on the island town of Scar in 1991.

Designed to follow the souls of the dead into the afterlife in a Viking boat grave, they were almost lost forever.

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Tuesday 23 February 2010

Vikings show their cultured side at open day

The more cultured side of the marauding Vikings was on show at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes on Sunday.

The museum staged one of its popular family days and some 430 people enjoyed meeting members of the Temesvikings re-enactment group from London.

Museum education officer Ali Rushent said: “They set up a fur-lined tent and did a series of mini talks with members of the public who came along.

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A heritage to treasure

For the first time, a regional museum is showing its medieval and Viking treasures at the British Museum. Steve Pratt discovers the story of England’s capital of the North and unearths an unusual recipient of a Blue Peter badge.

THE gallery at the British Museum is crammed with extraordinary objects of national and worldwide significance, as keeper of prehistory and Europe Jonathan Williams calls them.

There’s the York Helmet, the most outstanding Anglo-Saxon find to survive in Europe, and the Middleham Jewel, regarded as one of the finest pieces of Gothic jewellery found in this country. In another display case is the 1,000-year-old Gilling sword, one of the best preserved Viking swords ever found.

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Monday 22 February 2010

Jorvik centre reopens

The Jorvik Viking Centre in York has reopened to the public following a £1m refurbishment.

An entirely new gallery has been added and the replica of a Viking-age village has been upgraded. A number of new artefacts, discovered during diggings at the city's Coppergate district, have also gone on show.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at York Archaeological Trust, which operates the site, said: "The main thrust of the refurbishment this time is to make a reassessment of the archaeology at Coppergate from which the centre grew over 25 years ago.

Read the rest of this article...

Saturday 13 February 2010

Anglo-Saxon and Viking Summer School Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience Summer School, which is held at Christ Church, Oxford offers over 50 different courses during the five weeks from 4 July to 7 August 2010.

These courses include:

The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon England - 25 to 31 July 2010
(see further details)

King Alfred and the Vikings - 1 to 7 August
(see further details)

You can find out about other Summer School courses in archaeology and history at the University of Oxford’s website.

Metal detectorist finds Viking brooch

A METAL detectorist who had only recently taken up the hobby made a lucky find when he uncovered a Viking brooch, which is going on display at Salisbury Museum.

Sidney Boyce was using his metal detector near Longbridge Deverill when he found the bronze trefoil brooch, which he then took to the museum to be identified.

The find was reported to Katie Hinds, the finds liaison officer for Wiltshire, based at Salisbury Museum, who immediately recognised its significance.

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Experts Gather to Celebrate York's Viking History

Academics from around the Viking world will gather in York on Saturday 13th February 2010 for an entertaining and illuminating look at the past, present and future of Viking studies.

The two-day conference - “A celebration of Iconic Collections and Excavations from the Viking World” - will open the 2010 JORVIK Viking Festival and forms part of JORVIK Viking Centre's 25th anniversary celebrations. It will celebrate some of the most important developments and iconic artefacts uncovered in the last quarter-century of research into the Viking era.

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Viking brooch found in Longbridge Deverill, 3 miles south of Warminster.

A Viking brooch discovered in Longbridge Deverill, three miles south of Warminster, has gone on display in Salisbury Museum. The bronze trefoil brooch was discovered at the end of last year by Sidney Boyce from Salisbury using a metal detector.

The find is extremely rare for this part of England. It dates from between 850 and 1050 AD and is in the Viking Borre style, each arm being decorated with a cat-like animal head.

Katie Hinds, finds liaison officer for Wiltshire, said “It is very unusual to find a brooch like this - similar items have been found in East Anglia but they are copies."

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York Jorvik Viking Centre re-opens with annual festival after £1 million revamp

A Nordic animatronic community made by Disneyworld designers in Ohio, a capsule ride around Viking York and a ferocious battle between axe-wielding warriors will form the opening highlights of the third incarnation of the Jorvik Viking Centre when it opens tomorrow following a £1 million refurbishment.

An antler worker called Sigurd who severed his finger in a saw, two rugged builders, a feuding Viking couple and a rat are among the robotic figures created by US specialists Life Formation, based on archaeological evidence from digs around the grounds of the Centre. They will address visitors in Old Norse, voiced by students from York University.

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‘Time Team’ star Tony Robinson hails revamped Jorvik Centre as Viking Festival gets under way in York

BLACKADDER actor Tony Robinson has officially opened the new-look Jorvik Viking Centre in York after a £1 million refit.

The showpiece of the nine-month renovation is the glass-floor gallery where visitors can marvel at a recreation of the Viking relics that were found on the Coppergate site, excavated between 1976 and 1981.

The exhibition, which charts the history of Norse colonies in the city, also features seven new life-like Viking animatronics which have been shipped in from specialists in the US.

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Saturday 6 February 2010

Book your place at 'Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting' Conference

Registration is now open for the ‘Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting’ conference on 13th and 14th March 2010. This event is co-organised by the CBA and Newcastle University’s International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, and takes place at Newcastle University and the Great North Museum: Hancock.

The papers at this conference offer perspectives from a range of different interest groups, look at recent research, present case studies from around the UK and beyond, and ultimately offer views about what the future may hold for portable antiquities management. Much debate is anticipated at this timely event.

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Friday 5 February 2010

Viking treasure found in Shenstone

AN ANCIENT silver ingot dating back more than 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter in Shenstone, it was revealed this week.

The artefact, measuring almost three inches (70mm) in length, was found at an undisclosed location in Shenstone parish in March last year.

Experts at the British Museum have now examined the find and disclosed that it is Viking in origin and contains around 95 per cent silver.

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Vikings and Death

In the Viking Age people were buried in many different sort of places. Did the ancient Scandinavians chose a particular place for burial or were the burial sites randomly selected? Had the choice anything to do with ideas of the afterlife?

The seasons first Tuesday Talk at The Museum of Archaeology has an exciting topic! Archaeologist Eva Thäte will talk about vikings and death, Tuesday 9 February at 0630 pm. 

– Viking Age burial rites are very diverse as were people’s choices of places for burial grounds. In the Late Iron Age (AD 500-1000), people in Scandinavia buried their deceased on high ground, in ancient burial mounds, in houses, close to water sites and near roads or boundaries, says Eva Thäte.

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Egil Skallagrimsson Keeps his Head

Violent feuding, cunning witchcraft and poetic resolution make for a thrilling comedy drama commissioned for this February's JORVIK Viking Festival.

Egil Skallagrimsson Keeps his Head is a first theatrical commission for York Archaeological Trust to mark its anniversary JORVIK Viking Festival. The new comedy drama has been written and will be performed by award winning North Country Theatre on 17th and 18th February as part of the week's celebratory Viking Festival.

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Wednesday 3 February 2010

Go shopping in the Viking Age

The Viking Ship Museum invites children and adults on a shopping trip in the Viking Age during the winter holidays.

The Vikings were the first people in Scandinavian history to fit sails to their ships and acquire the ability to travel much further. When the Vikings returned home from an expedition or trading voyage, the ship was loaded with new and exciting goods and practices. Where could the Vikings purchase glass? How much did a walrus tooth cost? Did the Vikings trade in slaves?

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Sunday 31 January 2010

The Assembly Project awarded £850,000 to study Vikings and Early Medieval Europe

Over £850,000 has been made by medieval scholars from the Universities of Durham, Oslo and Vienna and the University of the Highlands and Islands, Centre for Nordic Studies, Orkney, by the Humanities in Europe Research Awards Scheme. This will fund a three-year, international effort, known as The Assembly Project, is designed to explore the role of assemblies or things in the creation, consolidation and maintenance of collective identities, emergent polities and kingdoms in early medieval Northern Europe.

Orkney and Shetland are to be research sites for a major project looking at the way the Viking communities governed themselves and strengthened their groups.

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Sweden celebrates the 800th birthday of Birger jarl

A jubilee celebration is being held for the 800th anniversary of the birth of Birger jarl, one of Sweden' most important medieval statesmen. Among the events planned for this year is the excavation of the tomb belonging to his son, King Magnus III.

The anniversary of the birth of Birger jarl will be inaugurated on 6 February at Bjälbo in Östergötland, where Birger Jarl was born 800 years ago. More than 130 specially invited guests and media representatives will be participating in vespers in the church, followed by dinner at Stadshotellet in Skänninge. The participants will include representatives of the three regions responsible for the Jubilee – Eastern Götaland, Western Götaland and Stockholm.

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Thursday 28 January 2010

Viking settlement unearthed by OPW

DUBLIN’S NORTHSIDE is revealing its own Viking past with the first evidence of 11th-century Dubliners choosing to settle on the north shore of the Liffey emerging in the past week.

Clear signs of a late-11th century – ie Viking – house have been found at a site in the Smithfield area owned by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Excavation works, commissioned and funded by the OPW, have been under way at Hammond Lane, off Church Street, since last year.

Some 17th- and 18th-century artefacts have been found since then, while evidence of a “substantial Viking house” was uncovered there last week, said excavation director Colm Moriarty.

National Museum director Pat Wallace said the great significance of the find lay in the location of the house north of the Liffey.

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Up Helly Aa in pictures: Viking festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Members of the Viking Jarl Squad march with burning torches during the annual Up Helly Aa Festival, Lerwick, Shetland Islands. Up Helly Aa celebrates the influence of the Scandinavian Vikings in the Shetland Islands and has employed this theme since 1870. Up Helly Aa is held on the last Tuesday in January every year, whatever the weather

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Delving into the history of 'things'

Orkney and Shetland are set to become research sites for a major project looking at the way Viking communities governed themselves and strengthened their groups.

Around £118,000 has been awarded to the Centre for Nordic Studies for research on administrative organisation and Norse “things” — governing assembly sites — in areas of Viking settlement and colonisation.

The centre — supported by UHI, the prospective university of the Highlands and Islands — is involved in a three-year project with Oslo, Vienna and Durham universities. Centre director,

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Viking Society Student Conference 2010

Viking Society Student Conference 2010
Published by Chris Abram on January 28, 2010 12:42 pm under Conferences

The Viking Society is holding its annual student conference in London on 13 February. Everybody is welcome to attend–whether a student or not or a Society member or not.

The theme of this year’s conference is Skaldic Poetry.

The conference will be held in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London. (South Junction of the main building, at the top of the stairs. Registration and refreshments will be in the Jeremy Bentham Room.)

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Sunday 24 January 2010

Medieval Shipwrecks under threat from Shipworms

Shipworms, commonly referred to as 'termites of the sea', are launching an attack on the Baltic Sea, putting large maritime archaeological sites at risk. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, currently participating in the EU-funded WRECKPROTECT project to investigate which artefacts are at risk, speculate that climate change is responsible for this threatening tide of shipworms.

The WRECKPROTECT ('Strategies for the protection of shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea against forthcoming attack by wood degrading marine borers. A synthesis and information project based on the effects of climatic changes') project has received over EUR 750,000 in financial support under the 'Environment' Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme.

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Thursday 21 January 2010

Jorvik Centre unveils new life-like animatronics

A FRESH horde of Vikings have descended on York thanks to a £1 million refurbishment to the Jorvik Centre.

The life-like animatronics will be unveiled at the centre’s relaunch on February 13.

The six “Vikings” have travelled 4,000 miles from Life Formations in Ohio, in the USA.

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York's annual Viking Festival to mark Jorvik Centre's 25th anniversary

ORGANISERS hope this year's Viking Festival will be the biggest and best ever – and it will start with the official reopening of the new Jorvik Centre.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Viking Centre, in Coppergate, which is currently closed while it prepares for a relaunch, the festival will be held from February 13 to 25 and coincide with half-term.

The Coppergate Camp is set to be the epicentre of Viking activity, with other Viking escapades scheduled for elsewhere in York.

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Viking Shipwrecks Face Ruin as Odd "Worms" Invade

Global warming putting sunken treasures at risk?

The dreaded wood-eating shipworm is invading northern Europe's Baltic Sea. The animal threatens to munch through thousands of Viking vessels and other historic shipwrecks, scientists warn.

The sea's cool, brackish waters have for centuries protected the wrecks from the wormlike mollusks. But now global warming is making the Baltic Sea (map) more comfortable for the critters, a new study speculates.

Shipworms, which can obliterate a wreck in ten years, have already attacked about a hundred sunken vessels dating back to the 13th century in Baltic waters off Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, reported study co-author Christin Appelqvist.

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Tuesday 19 January 2010

Artefacts selected to outline history of North Yorkshire

AN ANGLO-SAXON helmet, a Viking arm ring and a Second World War Halifax Bomber are just some of the artefacts that tell the story of North Yorkshire’s history, according to a new project.

Ten items of varying shapes and sizes have been selected to outline the history of the county as part of a national project entitled A History Of The World.

It was developed by the British Museum, 350 museums across the country and the BBC.

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Tuesday 12 January 2010

On a mission to crack the Norse code

The wind whipped the waves of Scapa Flow into streamers of white froth, and the swell built to a stomach-churning height.

An announcement came over the Tannoy – our ferry would just make it in to Stromness, but its return journey to Scrabster would be cancelled. The other passengers took in this information without a murmur. Orcadians know that they are cut off, that they live in a world apart.

The gusts blowing in off the bay gathered momentum, and the roar of the waves against the shore was lost in the hum of the engines. Across the water the oil terminal on the isle of Flotta sparkled in halogen blasts of orange and yellow light.

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