The burial site, containing the bodies of 54 young men, was unearthed at Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth in 2009 ahead of the construction of a new road, but the identity of the bodies within has mystified experts.
Because the men's severed heads were piled up on one side of the pit, it was assumed they had been the unfortunate victims of a mass execution.
Radiocarbon dating showed that the men had been killed some time around the year 1000, and isotope testing on their teeth found that they were from Scandinavia, suggesting they may have been Viking invaders.
Now an archaeologist from Cambridge University has put forward a theory that the men were a gang of Viking mercenaries who were murdered on the order of the English king Aethelred II.
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