Thursday 14 June 2012

Furness Viking treasure appeal reaches £50,000 target

The hoard of Viking silver coins and artefacts will now stay in south Cumbria

A museum has raised almost £50,000 to keep a hoard of Viking treasure in Cumbria, where it was found. 

A metal detector enthusiast found the 92 silver coins and ingots near Stainton, Dalton, in 2010. 

Barrow Dock Museum launched an appeal to buy the treasure and it has now hit its target.

The hoard was officially declared treasure, giving museums the rights to buy the haul. Museum curator Sabine Skae said she was "over the moon".

Monday 11 June 2012

Archaeologists Drill Tønsberg’s Viking Ancestry

The Norwegian city of Tønsberg, was first mentioned by a contemporary writer was in the year 1130. According to Snorri Sturluson, Tønsberg was founded before the Battle of Hafrsfjord, which, according to Snorri, took place in 871.

What year the battle took place is disputed, however, and most current historians believe the battle took place closer to 900. However, if the battle did in fact take place in 871, this would make Tønsberg the oldest present Scandinavian city.

Now archaeologists believe the city dates from at least 900AD after a series of drill samples taken from the site contain evidence of occupation and human activity called Kulturlag.

The sample drilling was undertaken by Norway’s institute for Cultural Heritage (Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, NIKU) who confirmed that the samples prove Tønsberg’s existence during the Viking Period as early as 900AD.

Early Iron Age fashion from Denmark

Colourful patterned clothes appear in the early Iron Age according to new analyses of 180 textile samples from 26 different bog finds, carried out by Ulla Mannering, a senior researcher and archaeologist at the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research at the National Museum.

Ulla Mannering examines textiles at the Centre for Textile Research. Image: University of Copenhagen

“The beginning of the Iron Age sparked a revolution in fashion in which clothes became coloured and patterned,” she says. Conventional theory held that access to  colourful textiles only emerges in Scandanavia  in the centuries after the 1st centuries AD.  This discovery pushes back the date by at least 500 years.

The new analyses also shows that the bog bodies from which the textiles were taken are older than previously thought with most of them dating back more than 2,000 years.

The discovery also challenges the view that the bodies, which had been buried in an ancient sacrificial bog, where prisoners or poorer people, who for some reason had been destined to be sacrificed or punished.

Monumental effort to save the threatened Viking treasures of Oseberg

The wood fibers of the richly decorated ceremonial wagon are disintegrated because of the preservation method. Credit: © Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo / Eirik Irgens Johnsen

Researchers from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, working closely with Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, have been studying ancient wooden Viking artefacts at the synchrotron radiation source BESSY II. The conservators expect this non-destructive method will yield crucial insights into the degradation of these unique works of art. The wooden artefacts come from a Viking grave found in 1904 at Oseberg near the Oslo fjords.