Tuesday 27 June 2023

The Norn Language: Scotland’s mysterious Viking tongue that can be found in modern Scots


Dubbed the “sixth Scandinavian language” Norn was spoken by Scots for centuries prior to its extinction, but echoes of this past can still be heard as remnants of the Viking tongue exist in modern Scottish words.

Broadly speaking, Etymologists divide Scandinavian languages into two historical branches; Western and Eastern. Danish and Swedish account for the Eastern examples while the Western includes Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese.

Just as Iceland and the Faroe Islands were largely settled by Norwegian Vikings, regions of Scotland like the Shetland Islands also underwent this Norse invasion which led to the birth of another Western Scandinavian language; Norn.

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Monday 26 June 2023

How to Make a Viking Warrior?

"Making a Warrior: the Social Implications of Viking Age Martial Ideologies” is the title of a new research project, which was recently granted substantial funding from Nordforsk. Partners are the Universities in Oslo, Copenhagen, Uppsala, and Reykjavik.

Archaeologist Marianne Moen, who has also recently taken over the position as Head of Department of Archaeology at the Museum of Cultural History, will be the project manager for the upcoming research project “Making a Warrior: the Social Implications of Viking Age Martial Ideologies” that is starting up in the fall of 2023.

– The Viking Age often evokes associations with violence and war, with images of tough men enacting scenarios of violence and war. At the same time, we know that the truth was much more complex. This project is based on the premise that Viking warriors were not a uniform group of people, and that warrior ideals moreover had socio-political and ritual aspects that were as important as the actual war and violence in itself, she tells us.

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Saturday 24 June 2023

Wild Cattle in Britain – Descendants of Viking Cattle?

Also known as the Chillingham Cattle, Britain is home to four flocks of White Cattle living in the wild since the 12th century.

The fierce and shy wild cattle living in the park at Chillingham is but one flock of four roaming at Woburn, Dynevor, and Cadzow. Earlier on, such herds were a common feature in the British landscape, probably kept for their ornamental and symbolic value. Known in the 12th century as Tauri Sylvestres, they have apparently always been considered a wild sub-species. The herd at Chillingham, though, was first mentioned in 1645. Today, about 130 animals live in the 150-ha large park in Northumberland. The herd is protected from being earmarked, a true sign of their “wild” status.

These flocks of wild cattle were treated as a kind of super-deer eaten on festive occasions, such as at the Archbishop of York installation feast in 1466. At the celebrations, six wild bulls were roasted and served. It appears the white cattle survived as potent medieval status symbols alongside other wild species. Evidence from Auckland Castle indicates a herd of White Cattle was kept in the 15th-century deer park for ornamental reasons together with wild horses.

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Thursday 22 June 2023

Viking artefact unearthed by metal detectorist to be sold at auction

The bronze artefact, called a die, would have been used to create decorative motifs to be applied to a military helmet (Jason Jones/PA)

A metal detectorist has unearthed a Viking artefact that was used to craft decorative motifs for military helmets.

Jason Jones, 44, of Norwich, made the find while searching a field near Watton in Norfolk in January this year, having previously found two medieval silver coins there.

The construction industry worker, who was with his wife Lisa, said he had forgotten to charge his main detector and was using his backup machine.

“I returned to the area where the coins were found and got a loud signal, and at a depth of just two inches found an unusual bronze object,” he said.

“Lisa came over and was speechless when she saw it.

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Viking artefact unearthed by metal detectorist in Norfolk field could fetch £24,000 at auction

Jason Jones, 44, with his wife and daughter, found a Viking artefact in a field in Norfolk.
Credit: Jason Jones / PA / Noonans auctioneers

A Viking artefact unearthed by a metal detectorist in Norfolk could fetch up £24,000 at auction.

Jason Jones, 44, of Norwich, made the find while searching a field near Watton in Norfolk in January this year, having previously found two medieval silver coins there.

The construction industry worker, who was with his wife Lisa, said he had forgotten to charge his main detector and was using his backup machine.

“I returned to the area where the coins were found and got a loud signal, and at a depth of just two inches found an unusual bronze object,” he said.

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A Couple Renovating Their Kitchen in Denmark Found an Ancient Stone Carved With Viking Runes

An ancient stone was discovered under the kitchen floor in a home in Denmark.
Photo Lene Brandt, courtesy National Museum of Denmark.

When Lene Brandt and her husband, Anders Nielsen, were preparing to tear up the linoleum floors in the kitchen in their home in the village of Mosekær, in Denmark, they probably expected the normal things that occur in the course of such a project: cost overruns, delays, and problems with contractors.

Instead, what they found was an ancient artifact. The couple stumbled across a nearly 2,000-pound stone, measuring more than six feet long, carved with ancient runes. The couple contacted local experts at the Museum Østjylland. Staff archaeologist Benita Clemmensen is quoted by the cultural news site Skjalden saying that these stones are the sole written records of the Viking Age. 

Five runes can be found carved into the stone’s surface, reading “aft Bi,” which can be translated as “after B.” 

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Tuesday 20 June 2023

Game piece with runic inscription found in Trondheim

A round soapstone game piece discovered in an archaeological survey in advance of sewer pipe repair in Trondheim, Norway, is inscribed with runes. This is only the second known game piece with a runic inscription ever discovered in Norway.

The excavation uncovered a sunken pit with archaeological layers dating to the Middle Ages. The deepest part of the pit, more than 12 feet below today’s street surface, has been dated to between 1000 and 1150 A.D. A coal layer above it was only slightly more recent, dating to 1030-1180 A.D. The soapstone game piece was found between the two layers.

Archaeologists first thought the lines incised on the round piece’s surface could be stylized floral motifs, but the geometry was also reminiscent of runic inscriptions albeit laid out in artistic fashion.

The team sent high-resolution images of the piece to runologist Karen Langsholt Holmqvist. She was so intrigued she was compelled to view the object in person. That’s when she conclusively identified the decoration as runic writing.

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What did the Vikings eat?

Serra is a culinary archaeologist recreating long-lost Viking recipes (Credit: Maddy Savage)

While the word "Viking" is often used to describe anyone who lived during the Viking era, Serra explained that it should technically only refer to the pirates and pillagers who travelled across northern Europe between the 8th and 11th Centuries. He said that most people during this period weren't bloodthirsty invaders, but worked as farmers, fishermen, crafters or traders, and he's made it his life's mission to research and recreate the kind of dishes that dominated their everyday diets. 

"I like to eat, and I like to eat good food, so I was curious: what did [the Vikings] eat?" said Serra, who initially studied the food of ancient Rome as an archaeology student by recreating dishes from the 1st- to 5th-Century cookbook De Re Coquinaria. He then reconstructed, cooked and tasted his way from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages before focusing on the Viking era during his graduate studies. Today, having established that Vikings were much more farm-to-table locavores than meat-loving hunter gatherers, Serra is now considered one of Scandinavia's leading authorities on the culinary practices of the Vikings. 

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Stone Carved With Viking Ship May Be Oldest Picture Ever Found in Iceland

Photo: Landnámsskáli í Stöð / Facebook

Archaeologists in Iceland have found a sandstone carved with a Viking ship that may be the oldest picture ever found in the country. The stone was found at the archaeological site Stöð in East Iceland in a longhouse that is believed to predate the permanent settlement of the island. RÚV reported first.

Richest longhouse ever excavated in Iceland
The first exploratory digs at Stöð were made in 2015 and archaeologists have returned every summer since to continue excavating the site, where they first focused their efforts on a settlement-era longhouse.  “The longhouse is among the largest found in Iceland, 31.4m [103ft] long. In Scandinavia, only chieftains’ farms had longhouses larger than 28m [92ft]. It is also the richest longhouse ever excavated in Iceland. We have found 92 beads and 29 silver objects, including Roman and Middle Eastern coins,” Bjarni F. Einarsson told Iceland Review for a 2020 article on the archeological site.

Oldest building predates settlement
What makes the site still more significant is that archaeologists discovered an even older longhouse underneath the settlement-era longhouse, estimated to date back to around 800 AD, some 75 years before the permanent settlement of Iceland. The most striking feature of the older structure is the conspicuous absence of the bones of domesticated animals. “My theory is that the older longhouse was a seasonal hunting camp, operated by a Norwegian chief who outfitted voyages to Iceland to gather valuables and bring them back across the sea to Norway,” Bjarni told Iceland Review. One of these valuables may have been walrus ivory: in 2019, DNA analyses and radiocarbon dating confirmed that Iceland was previously inhabited by a North Atlantic subspecies of walrus, now extinct.

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Monday 12 June 2023

Viking Support Animals

(The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo) Stela depicting Odin’s horse Sleipnir

The warriors of the Viking Great Army who campaigned in Britain from A.D. 865 to 878 worshipped gods often associated with animal companions, such as Odin and his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. It seems that some of the army’s leaders may have made the voyage across the North Sea from Scandinavia with their own cherished animals as comrades. A team led by University of Durham archaeologist Tessi Loeffelmann discovered evidence of these travel arrangements while analyzing isotopes of the element strontium in cremated animal bones recovered from Norse burial mounds near the site of the army’s A.D. 873–874 winter camp in Repton.

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The cruelty of the Vikings was legendary. However, the reality was different

[Photo by DAMIANUM CASTRUM from Pexels]

They were famous for their violent nature, sudden attacks and barbarism. But to what extent is the cruelty of the Vikings a fact confirmed by historians?

In June 793, Vikings invaded a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne off the northeast coast of England. The center, which had existed for 150 years, was the spiritual and intellectual center of the region. However, to the pagan aggressors it was nothing more than an undefended object full of riches. Thus began in the history of Europe an era of Vikings that lasted more than 250 years, until the decisive battle of Hastings fought in 1066.

“Never before had there been such a terror in Britain as that which has now arisen through the heathen race. These barbarians poured the blood of the saints around the altar [in St. Cuthbert’s Church] and trampled on the bodies of the saints in the temple of God like dung in the streets.”

These words, still breathing terror today, were written by Alcuin of York in a letter to King Ethelred of Northumbria. This was the name of the land on the coast of which the profaned and devastated monastery and church were located.

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Unusual Discovery Of A Viking Age Phallic Stone In Tystaberga, Sweden


Ellen Lloyd - AncientPages.com - As an archaeologist, you can expect to find some surprises everywhere. That's what happened during recent excavations on a hill in Tystberga outside the city of Norrköping, Sweden, where scientists unearthed something eye-catching.

A new railroad will be constructed, so scientists excavated the site from May to June this year. It's an archaeological site where researchers have previously unearthed more than 60 Viking Age graves and a settlement from the Bronze Age.

In a recent study, scientists found a grave containing two curious stones. An examination of the stones showed one was a grave ord. These stones were common in Scandinavia from the Pre-Roman Iron Age until the Vendel era. Engraved with ornaments, grave orbs were placed on an individual's tomb.  The other stone unearthed in Tystberga was shaped like a penis.

The phallus was a powerful and important symbol throughout the ancient world, but unearthing a Viking Age Phallic stone in Sweden does not happen often.

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Scramasax with preserved wood handle found in Sweden

An archaeological excavation in Skälby on the outskirts of Västerås, southeastern Sweden, has uncovered a scramasax (short sword) with its decorated wooden handle so well-preserved it looks like new even though it’s more than 1100 years old.

About 16 inches long with its unusually decorative grip intact, the scramasax was discovered in 2021 at the bottom of a well, embedded deep in the mud and the waterlogged clay. The anaerobic environment preserved the wooden handle in pristine condition. It is turned to fit the hand and carved with a central enlaced design. Its style dates it to the Vendel Period between the 7th and 9th centuries A.D.

The Skälby site was home to several scattered farming settlements in the Iron Age. Its wells were used for different purposes in different phases, alternating between water sources, garbage pits and places for ritual deposits. Archaeologists believe the short sword was sacrificed, thrown into the well as an offering, as swords like this were extremely valuable objects and not likely to be lost by accident. In fact, they are most frequently found as grave goods, interred with the warrior who wielded it as one of his most prized possessions.

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