Monday, 27 April 2015

Viking voyages began earlier than thought


Forget about the Viking Age beginning with the brutal sacking of Lindisfarne Priory in 793. According to new research, Norwegian Vikings began long sea voyages at least 70 years earlier, but they came looking for trade not plunder.

Archeologists digging beneath the old marketplace of Ribe, have stumbled upon the remains of reindeer antlers from Norway, which they believe prove trade links with Vikings far to the north. 
 
"This is the first time we have proof that seafaring culture, which was the basis for the Viking era, has a history in Ribe. It's fascinating," Søren Sindbæk, a professor at the University of Aarhus and one of the others of a new study, told ScienceNordic. 
 
Sindbæk believes early trading trips between Norway and Denmark gave the Vikings the seafaring skills that would be used some 70 years later to strike England.

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Reindeer Antlers Suggest Viking Age Began With Trade


Antlers from Norwegian reindeer have been unearthed in Ribe, the oldest commercial center in Denmark. The antlers have been dated to A.D. 725, some 70 years before the Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery in northern England. “The Viking Age becomes a phenomenon in Western Europe because the Vikings learned to use maritime mobility to their advantage. They learned to master sailing to such an extent that they get to the coast of England where the locals don’t expect anything. They come quickly, plunder the unprepared victims, and leave again—a sort of hit and run,” Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University toldScience Nordic. The Norwegian reindeer antlers suggest that Norway’s earliest so-called Vikings developed their maritime skills through trade. “Now we can prove that shipping between Norway and the market town of Ribe was established prior to the Viking era, and trade networks helped to create the incentives and the knowledge of the sea, which made the Viking raids possible. It is the first time that we can clearly link two very important phenomena, the lock and key if you like, of the Viking Age,” he said. For more, see "The First Vikings."

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The Viking Age began in Denmark

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Burials from Rockbourne Roman villa re-examined


Lower jaw deformities from birth, a missing right hand and foot bones, trepanning to exorcise “bad spirits” and a lonely burial were the lot of a middle-aged Saxon or early medieval man found face down in a shallow grave, say archaeologists investigating skeletons found at a Hampshire Roman villa during the 1960s. 


A reconstruction of the skull of a man found weighed down  in a lonely grave at Hampshire's largest Roman villa  [Credit: © Hampshire Cultural Trust] 

The latter of two male discoveries at Rockbourne, near the town of Fordingbridge on the River Avon, was originally found in 1965. 

Analysts believe the community would have buried him in a lonely place and weighed him down with stones after viewing a deformity on the left hand side of his jaw as a sign of his troubles and a potentially evil influence.

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Friday, 27 March 2015

DNA map of UK migration history shows Vikings drew the line at pillaging

Analysis shows less Viking DNA than expected, and no single group of Celts.


A fine-grained genetic analysis has created a detailed map of genetic variation across the UK. It gives us a clearer picture of the waves of migration that populated the UK and could also contribute to research on genetic diseases.
Obviously, people in the UK these days don’t always stick around where they were born, so people in a given region don’t necessarily share ancestry. But, if you can find people whose ancestry is closely tied to a particular region, it becomes possible to approximate what genomes would have been like a century ago, before people could move around so easily.
A paper published in Nature this week analyzed the genomes of 2039 people whose grandparents were all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of one another. This effectively meant that the researchers were sampling the genomes of the grandparents, whose average birth year was 1885 and who obviously had strong ties to a region. This allowed the researchers to investigate the genetic structure of the UK population before the mass movements of last century.
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The Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Conquest


The Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Conquest:
A Commemoration of 1066

5 - 7 Feb 2016

2016 is the 950th anniversary of the momentous year 1066, which climaxed with the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest of England. The Bayeux Tapestry commemorated the lead-up to that Conquest and we commemorate, in this conference, both historical events and the work of art. We compare The Bayeux Tapestry’s version of history with other sources and examine the cultural milieu that produced and appreciated it. We consider the ways in which the Bayeux Tapestry is unique among medieval textile furnishings; and we examine how The Bayeux Tapestry itself has been and still is being commemorated, from the nineteenth-century replica displayed in Reading to recent and current community projects that portray history in needlework.

Further details...

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

DNA study shows Celts are not a unique genetic group

A depiction of the Celtic Queen Boudicca from AD 1. Why are Celts' descendents not a single genetic grouping?

A DNA study of Britons has shown that genetically there is not a unique Celtic group of people in the UK.
According to the data, those of Celtic ancestry in Scotland and Cornwall are more similar to the English than they are to other Celtic groups.
The study also describes distinct genetic differences across the UK, which reflect regional identities.
And it shows that the invading Anglo Saxons did not wipe out the Britons of 1,500 years ago, but mixed with them.
Published in the Journal Nature, the findings emerge from a detailed DNA analysis of 2,000 mostly middle-aged Caucasian people living across the UK.
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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Anglo-Saxon pendant found in Norfolk field


A student who unearthed an "outstanding" piece of Anglo-Saxon jewellery believes it could be worth tens of thousands of pounds. 


Awaiting cleaning, the seventh-century Anglo-Saxon gold and garnet pendant  discovered in South Norfolk [Credit: Tom Lucking]


 Tom Lucking, 23, found the gold pendant, inlaid with a "profusion" of garnets, while metal detecting on farmland just before Christmas. 

The 7cm (2.8in) item has been described by treasure experts to be of "national significance". 

It is thought its owner may have had royal connections. 

The pendant was discovered by landscape history student Mr Lucking in south Norfolk along with a female skeleton and a number of other coins and jewellery. 

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Hinkley Point C excavations unearth bones from the Dark Ages

The burials date from the 7th Century

A Dark Ages cemetery and more than 100 burials has been unearthed at the site of a new nuclear power station.
The discovery is one of many by archaeologists who have spent years excavating ground where Hinkley Point C is being built in Somerset.
Flint tools dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods and Roman building remains were also found.
All the results of the dig, which began in 2012, are being revealed in an exhibition at the Museum of Somerset.
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Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)


Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)

Mon 26 Jan to Fri 17 Apr 2015

University of Oxford 

Department of Continuing Education

Further details...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Viking Artefacts


Viking Artefacts is an interesting blog run by Thomas Kamphaus.

He describes his interest as follows: 

"Why interested in vikings ?"

Well, I guess every man approching it's 40-ies has a right for developing a strange hobby. It thrills me more than the collecting of sugar sackets. 

Seriously: I have always been attached to history, and in general the period from 500 - 1200. The Frankish/merovingian period and then the viking period. Collecting artefacts just have seemed to pop up out of the blue . The viking craftmanship in several to considered styles I find very acctractive. Compared to the number of Roman artefacts p.e. the vikings - although excavated intensively the last 25/35 years - always stayed a sort of elusive and mysterious to us what sets them apart of other cultures.

You can find the blog here...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Mid-Norway Vikings among the first to sail to British Isles

Circular brooch from a woman’s grave in Nes, Bjung municipality. (Photo: Per Fredriksen, NTNU University Museum)

Archaeological findings show that Vikings from mid- and western Norway were among the first to make the trip to the British Isles.


Vikings living in Trøndelag, a region in the middle part of Norway, were among the first in Scandinavia to travel west. A new analysis of burial sites in Trøndelag from the year 800 and later undertaken by researchers at the NTNU University Museum is giving us a clearer image of who decided to stay in Norway, and who left to travel to the British Isles.
The burials sites examined contained a lot more foreign artefacts than previously believed, many of which coincide the first known Viking raids in Lindisfarne, England in 793.
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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gardener unearths Anglo-Saxon carving in job lot of rockery stone


Looking for some natural stone for a rockery in his garden, John Wyatt thought he had found a bargain when he saw a job lot advertised for £50.
He was more right than he knew. For when he took the ton and a half of rock home he discovered that it contained an ancient stone carving worth thousands of pounds.
Mr Wyatt, 32, was cleaning mud and moss off the pieces when he spotted one with a Celtic cross carved on one side and a mythical birdlike beast on the other.
He had the 21 by 15in piece examined by an expert, who told him it dated from Anglo-Saxon times.
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Monday, 1 December 2014

EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland and the Isle of Skye


EMAS Easter Study Tour to North Scotland 
and the Isle of Skye
2 - 8 April 2015

The 2015 EMAS Easter Study Tour is to the North of Scotland, including one day on the Isle of Skye.

We will travel from London Embankment by coach, staying overnight at Carlisle on the 2nd and 7th April.

We shall be based at a hotel in Inverness, which is a very good central point from which to explore the region.

The itinerary includes a wide range of prehistoric and medieval sites, including some of the famous Pictish symbol stones.



Saxon skeleton among discoveries in Aylesham

A Saxon skeleton, Bronze Age urns and Roman domestic objects were unearthed during a dramatic excavation in Aylesham this week. 

The Saxon skeleton was unearthed in Aylesham  [Credit: Canterbury Times] 

The discoveries, some of which are likely to date back more than 2,000 years, were made by archaeologists at the building site of the Aylesham expansion. 

A well-preserved skeleton thought to be from the Saxon era - therefore up to 1,500 years old - was lifted from an ancient burial ground by experts. 

Also found were middle Bronze Age cremation urns and Roman ditches full of domestic items.

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Sword’s Secrets Revealed


The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon sword this summer was cause for great excitement at the Barrow Clumpexcavation. We were keen to learn as much as possible about this 6th-century weapon, although the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that we would need to use an x-ray machine to do so. 

Being 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities here at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot. Transportation of the sword was closely supervised by our Conservator, Lynn Wootten, and the Project Manager for Barrow Clump, Phil Andrews. 

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

HAS ONE OF HARALD BLUETOOTH’S FORTRESSES COME TO LIGHT?


In September 2014, archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University announced the discovery of a Viking fortress in a field belonging to Vallø Manor, located west of Køge on the east coast of Sealand. This was the first discovery of its kind in Denmark in over 60 years. Since then, archaeologists have been waiting impatiently for the results of the dating of the fortress. Now the first results are available, and they will be presented at a seminar at Aarhus University on 18 November.

“When the discovery was published back in September, we were certain that we had found a Viking ring fortress, but since then there have been intense discussions online and amongst archaeologists about whether we were right. Now we know without doubt that we have found a fortress from the 10th century,” says archaeologist Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre.

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X-rays reveal secrets of Anglo-Saxon sword


Archaeologists have used an army field hospital’s x-ray machine to examine a corroded steel sword, confirming the pattern of the weapon alongside a spearhead and shield core found at a burial site on Salisbury Plain. 


Archaeologists have enlisted the help of the army to x-ray a sword found in Salisbury  during the summer [Credit: © Wessex Archaeology] 

The 85 centimetre blade was found with the grave goods at Barrow Clump, a 40-metre cemetery where 27 bodies – including the remains of Anglo-Saxon warriors – were discovered in 2012. 

“The sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities,” reflects Laura Joyner, of Wessex Archaeology, who says the sword caused “great excitement” at the excavation.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Anglo Saxon graves found during excavation of Burwell Road, Exning


Twenty one skeletons of Anglo Saxon people have been found – just one foot under the ground – during an archaeological dig in Exning.
The skeletons were found on land at Burwell Road in Exning, alongside a spear, a glass bowl, gold plated brooches, a cloak pin, and a dagger, some of which is thought to have come from as early as 7AD.
The dig was carried out by Archaeological Solutions on behalf of Persimmon Homes, who have outline permission to build 120 homes on the site.
Andrew Peachey, post excavation manager for Archaeological Solutions, said: “The focus of the dig was of 20 Saxon graves. In those, we found 21 remains with one being a double burial.
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Major dig planned at Battle of Hastings sites


One of the world’s top battlefield archaeologists is to lead an ambitious project which aims to finally unearth remains from the Battle of Hastings. 


Battle of Hastings re-enactment, Battle Abbey [Credit: Steve Hunnisett] 

Although the current site at Battle Abbey has been accepted as the correct location for the bloody clash for centuries, no archaeological evidence associated with the battle has ever been found on the site. 

Now English Heritage has asked Dr Glenn Foard, of Huddersfield University, to develop a project proposal with the hope of carrying out a major dig on the site. 

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