Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns


The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns

Tuesday 3 May 2016, 5.30PM

Speaker: Julian Richards


From AD 865 to 879 a Viking army wreaked havoc on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, leading to political conquest, settlement on a substantial scale, and extensive Scandinavian cultural and linguistic influences in eastern and northern England. This critical period for English history led to revolutionary changes in land ownership, society, and economy, including the growth of towns and industry, while transformations in power politics would ultimately see the rise of Wessex as the pre-eminent kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England. 

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Did volcano eruptions tip Europe into Dark Ages?


Back-to-back volcanic eruptions in the mid-6th century darkened Europe's skies for more than a year and may have ushered in the Dark Ages, according to finding to be presented Friday at a science conference in Vienna.
"Either would have led to significant cooling of Earth's surface," said Matthew Toohey, a climate modeller at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel Germany who led the research.
"But taken together, the two eruptions"—in 536 and 540—"were likely the most powerful volcanic event affecting the northern hemisphere climate over at least the past 1,500 years," he told AFP at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union.
Their combined impact lowered temperatures by two degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during what is probably the coldest decade in the last two millennia, he added.
This sudden drop, caused by a Sun-blocking blanket of sulphur particles in the stratosphere, had a devastating impact on agriculture, provoking famine throughout much of Europe and beyond.
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Romsey Abbey: The mystery of the hair in the coffin


For the past few months, archaeologists have been testing a full head of hair found in a coffin. Is it the hair of a saint?
In October 1839, the work of some gravediggers came to an abrupt halt when their tools hit something hard. It was a lead coffin. Inside they found some hair. Human hair.
In the year 2000, a seven-year-old boy called Jamie Cameron went on a school trip to his local parish church, Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. It was where the gravediggers had made their discovery more than a century and a half earlier.
He was taken to a display case and was immediately drawn to the full head of hair, which was still resting on the oak "pillow" on which it was found.

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Monday, 18 April 2016

Prehistoric monuments and 150 Anglo-Saxon graves found at Bulford


Excavations on MOD land in Bulford, Wiltshire, have uncovered 150 Anglo-Saxon graves spanning the later 7th to early 8th century, and a host of prehistoric finds – as well as new insights into early medieval burial practices.
Containing the remains of men, women, and children, the burials were arranged in neat rows, packed closely together – though as none of the graves intercut, the team from Wessex Archaeology (excavating on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, ahead of the construction of new homes for army families) suggests that they may once have been picked out in some way.
‘It is likely that the graves were identified somehow, perhaps with some kind of marker or a low mound,’ said Wessex Archaeology osteologist Jackie McKinley. ‘This is a planned cemetery.’

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Anglo-Saxon graves and Neolithic pits and monuments found at MOD army base where anti-tank weapons were tested


The graves of men, women and children could have contained members of the same families on Salisbury Plain

This workbox was found in the grave of a woman on Ministry of Defence land in Bulford
© Wessex Archaeology

Two Neolithic monuments, prehistoric pits and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery of 150 graves containing spears, knives, jewellery and bone combs have been discovered at an army site where anti-tank weaponry was tested during World War Two.

One burial at Bulford has been radiocarbon dated to the mid Anglo-Saxon period, between AD 660 and 780. The graves have been found as part of a £1 billion Ministry of Defence development to create 1,000 homes for service personnel.
Archaeologists are now planning to excavate the monuments next to the cemetery, which are made up of Early Bronze Age round barrows and are likely to become scheduled monuments. Grooved ware pottery, stone and flint axes, a disc-shaped flint knife, a chalk bowl and deer and extinct wild cattle bones were found in the pits.

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Unique jewellery from the British Isles found in Danish Viking grave

A Danish Viking burial site contains a buckle that may have come from Ireland or Scotland.

 The history of this bronze buckle might share some light on just how “global” the Vikings were. (Photo: Ernst Stidsing)


At just 6 cm in diameter, this little buckle is causing quite a stir in archaeological circles.

The small gilt bronze buckle once held a petticoat together and was buried between 900 and 1,000 years ago with its female owner in a Viking grave in west Denmark.

It is a rare find for Denmark, as the buckle appears to have come from Scotland or Ireland.
But just to determine this has been quite a journey, says project manager and archaeologist Ernst Stidsing, from the Museum East Jutland, Denmark.

The find is described in a collection of articles "Dead and buried in the Viking Age", published by Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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British Buckle Found in Danish Viking Grave A gilt bronze buckle dating to more than 1,000 years ago has been found buried with a woman in a Viking grave in west Denmark. Determining the origin of the 2.4-inch-wide buckle has been a major challenge, according to archaeologist Ernst Stidsing of the Museum of East Jutland. Stidsing sent photos of the buckle to a colleague who was stumped and who sent them on to other experts. They agreed that it was from the British Isles, but were divided on exactly which part—some said Ireland, others the south of Scotland. They agreed, however, that the disc was originally a decoration on a religious box and was only used as a buckle after it was stolen. Read the rest of this article...



A gilt bronze buckle dating to more than 1,000 years ago has been found buried with a woman in a Viking grave in west Denmark. Determining the origin of the 2.4-inch-wide buckle has been a major challenge, according to archaeologist Ernst Stidsing of the Museum of East Jutland. Stidsing sent photos of the buckle to a colleague who was stumped and who sent them on to other experts. They agreed that it was from the British Isles, but were divided on exactly which part—some said Ireland, others the south of Scotland. They agreed, however, that the disc was originally a decoration on a religious box and was only used as a buckle after it was stolen.

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Friday, 4 March 2016

Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered


The remains of an Anglo-Saxon island have been uncovered in one of the most important archaeological finds in decades. 

Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered Liason officer Adam Daubney and metal detectorist Graham Vickers have discovered a 'significant' archaeological site [Credit: University of Sheffield] 

The island which was home to a Middle Saxon settlement was found at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield. 

It is thought the site is a previously unknown monastic or trading centre but researchers believe their work has only revealed an enticing glimpse of the settlement so far.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Remains of Anglo-Saxon island discovered in Lincolnshire village

The site in Lincolnshire (not pictured) is thought to have been a previously unknown monastic or trading centre. Photograph: Jon Boyes/incamerastock/Corbis

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon island have been uncovered in Lincolnshire in a significant find that has yielded an unusually wide array of artefacts. 

The island, once home to a Middle Saxon settlement, was found at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire, by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield after a discovery by a metal detectorist.

Graham Vickers came across a silver stylus, an ornate writing tool dating back to the 8th century, in a disturbed plough field. He reported his find and subsequently unearthed hundreds more artefacts, recording their placement with GPS, thus enabling archaeologists to build up a picture of the settlement below. 

The artefacts include another 20 styli, about 300 dress pins and a huge number of sceattas – coins from the 7th-8th centuries – as well as a unusual small lead tablet bearing the female Anglo-Saxon name “Cudberg”.

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Dunwich: The storms that destroyed 'lost town'

In the 11th Century Dunwich was the 10th largest town in England

Evidence of violent storms that destroyed a lost town known as Britain's Atlantis has been uncovered.

The finds were uncovered off the coast of Dunwich, Suffolk - a small village which in the 11th Century was one of the largest towns in England.

The town was hit by a succession of storms in the 13th and 14th centuries and is now largely below the sea.

Researchers said sediment gathered from the cliffs independently corroborated the historical record.

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Friday, 19 February 2016

Anglo Saxon gold mount 'mystery' in Norfolk

The triangular gold mount, found near Fakenham, is less that an inch in width and length

A "mystery" gold mount found in a Norfolk field has provided "another piece of the jigsaw" for historians looking for Anglo-Saxon settlements. 

The item was found near Fakenham and is possibly from a sword grip, but experts say it has differences to similar finds.

Dr Andrew Rogerson, county archaeologist, said: "It's a fragment, but there's no context for it."
No evidence of dwellings has ever been found in the village.

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Lost in Translation? Ibn Fadlan and the Great Unwashed


Lost in Translation? Ibn Fadlan and the Great Unwashed

14–15 March 2016 

MBI Al Jaber Building, Corpus Christi College, Oxford


Ibn Fadlan’s vivid eye-witness report of his mission to the Bulgars on the Middle Volga in 921/2 is probably one of the most widely known and intensively studied of early Arabic texts. Yet the importance of Ibn Fadlan and his mission has yet to receive a full and rounded assessment.

Our two-day interdisciplinary conference will draw on historians, numismatists, textual scholars and archaeologists and will attempt to set Ibn Fadlan’s account within the broader context of tenth-century Europe, the Islamic world and the Eurasian steppes.

Further details...

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Archaeologists uncover buried village on Anglesey

Remains of a house found at Rhuddgaer, near Newborough by 
the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

Archaeologists in Gwynedd have discovered what is thought to be a buried village on Anglesey.

The discovery was made at Rhuddgaer, near Newborough, following a survey using technology to map out buried features without digging holes.

The village is believed to date back to the 7th or 8th Century, after the Romans had fled Britain.

The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust said: "We don't have any others to compare it to as this is a first."

Volunteers joined students and staff from Bangor University to revisit the location where a fourth or fifth Century coffin was found in the 1870s. The coffin is now in Bangor Museum.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

From genes to latrines: Vikings and their worms provide clues to emphysema


In a paper published today in Nature: Scientific Reports a group of researchers led by LSTM have found that the key to an inherited deficiency, predisposing people to emphysema and other lung conditions, could lie in their Viking roots.
Archaeological excavations of Viking latrine pits in Denmark have revealed that these populations suffered massive worm infestations (link is external). The way that their genes developed to protect their vital organs from disease caused by worms has become the inherited trait which can now lead to lung disease in smokers. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema affect over 300 million people, or nearly 5% of the global population. The only inherited risk factor is alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, and this risk is compounded if individuals smoke tobacco.

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Monday, 1 February 2016

New Website for the Bayeux Tapestry


As this year is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, Archaeology in Europe has created a new website featuring the Bayeux Tapestry.

The Website gives details of the history of the Tapestry and provides detailed images of the entire tapestry.

There is also a section on the Battle of Hastings and the recent work by Time Team to locate the battle site.


You may also be interested in the EMAS Archaeological Site Tour: “Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry




Thursday, 28 January 2016

Medieval burial ground found under UK car park


Archaeologists have discovered a mass grave containing more than 300 skeletons - under a car park. The first discoveries were made two years ago during routine archaeological surveys as the ground was assessed for development into affordable homes - but it was initially thought there were only 20 bodies buried. 


Human skull discovered during Godalming drainage hole work  [Credit: Surrey History Centre] Work to transform the car park, in Godalming, Surrey, into 14 new-builds was put on hold and the findings were carefully excavated in June 2014. 

They were taken to Surrey History Centre to be examined - where experts discovered the remains of more than 300 individuals.

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Number of skeletons discovered in Godalming car park rises to 300


The number of skeletons excavated from a former car park has risen to 300, although experts have yet to confirm from which century they date.
Archaeologists are asking for more time to analyse the rising number of remains and 65 other findings such as animal bones, flintwork and fragments of medieval and post medieval pottery, which were previously discovered at the Station Road site in Godalmingnearly three years ago.
The discoveries were initially brought to light in March 2013 when routine archaeological surveys were carried out for the current development ground for affordable homes.
Work to create the 14 new-builds came to an abrupt halt and the findings were later removed ‘successfully’ in June 2014 before being taken to Surrey History Centre to be examined.
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

English DNA 'one-third' Anglo-Saxon

This triple burial from Oakington, Cambridgeshire, includes metal and amber grave goods

The present-day English owe about a third of their ancestry to the Anglo-Saxons, according to a new study.

Scientists sequenced genomes from 10 skeletons unearthed in eastern England and dating from the Iron Age through to the Anglo-Saxon period.
Many of the Anglo-Saxon samples appeared closer to modern Dutch and Danish people than the Iron Age Britons did.
According to historical accounts and archaeology, the Anglo-Saxons migrated to Britain from continental Europe from the 5th Century AD. They brought with them a new culture, social structure and language.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

EMAS Archaeology Study Tour: Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry


Landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry

21 - 28 May 2016


2016 will be the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The famous Bayeux Tapestry that depicts this battle also presents a map of the events that led up to Hastings.

This study tour will follow the route of this map, starting at Westminster and following Harold’s progression through Normandy, and then on to the arrival of William’s forces at Pevensey and finally to Battle, where we will look at the evidence for the suggested new location for the Battle of Hastings.

Full details of this study tour can be found here...

N.B. In order to be certain of a place you need to apply by 1 February 2016  at the latest.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Lasers used to make Staffordshire Hoard replicas


Laser technology is being used to help create replicas of items from the Staffordshire Hoard.
The hoard contains 3,500 items of jewellery and weapons from Anglo Saxon times with a value of more than £3m.
The Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre in Birmingham is working with the city's Museum and Art Gallery to make pieces to go on show to the public.

Watch the video...