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Viking-Era Discoveries & Theories


Beloved of Ra
Aug 3, 2003
Crystals 'helped Viking sailors'

Vikings may have used a special crystal called a sunstone to help navigate the seas even when the sun was obscured by fog or cloud, a study has suggested.

Researchers from Hungary ran a test with sunstones in the Arctic ocean, and found that the crystals can reveal the sun's position even in bad weather.

This would have allowed the Vikings to navigate successfully, they say.

The sunstone theory has been around for 40 years, but some academics have treated it with extreme scepticism.

Researcher Gabor Horvath from Eotvos University in Budapest led a team that spent a month recording polarisation - how rays of light display different properties in different directions - in the Arctic.

Polarisation cannot be seen with the naked eye, but it can be viewed with what are known as birefringent crystals, or sunstones.

Birefringence, or double refraction, is the splitting of a light wave into two different components - an ordinary and an extraordinary ray.

The researchers found that the crystals could be used to find out where the sun was in the sky in certain foggy or cloudy conditions.

It is already thought that Vikings used sundials aboard ships to navigate.

Vikings were a seafaring race from Scandinavia who used their longboats to explore and conquer parts of Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Russia.

The sunstones are mentioned in the Thorgal comics.
The best example of a birefringent mineral which springs to mind is Iceland Spar; there used to be a remarkable exhibit of the double image it produces in the Natural History Museum in London
ah yes; here's a picture
Iceland spar was obviously available to the Vikings from its country of origin.

hmm; the two images produced by Iceland Spar have different polarisations; I should think that a skilled user could determine the direction of the sun on an overcast day, assuming that the polarisation of sunlight remains the same through clouds (which I think it does). You could probably do it using polarised glasses too.
Viking treasure hoard uncovered

Experts believe the treasure was buried for safe keeping

The most important Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire.
David and Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th Century, in Harrogate in January.

The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery was "phenomenal".

It was declared as a treasure at a court hearing in Harrogate on Thursday.

North Yorkshire coroner Geoff Fell said: "Treasure cases are always interesting, but this is one of the most exciting cases that I have ever had to rule on.

"I'm delighted that such an important Viking hoard has been discovered in North Yorkshire. We are extremely proud of our Viking heritage in this area."

'Astonishing discovery'

Metal detectorists David and Andrew Whelan, who uncovered the treasures, said the find was a "thing of dreams".

The pair, from Leeds, said the hoard was worth about £750,000 as a conservative estimate.

They told the BBC News website: "We've been metal detecting for about five years; we do it on Saturdays as a hobby.

"We ended up in this particular field, we got a really strong signal from the detector... Eventually we found this cup containing the coins and told the antiquity authority.

"We were astonished when we finally discovered what it contained."

The ancient objects come from as far afield as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.

The hoard contains 617 silver coins and 65 other objects, including a gold arm-ring and a gilt silver vessel.

Dr Jonathan Williams, keeper of prehistory in Europe at the British Museum, said: "[The cup] is beautifully decorated and was made in France or Germany at around AD900.

"It is fantastically rare - there are only a handful of others known around the world. It will be stunning when it is fully conserved."

Turbulent times

Most of the smaller objects were extremely well preserved as they had been hidden inside the vessel, which was protected by a lead container.

The British Museum said the coins included several new or rare types, which provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early 10th Century, as well as Yorkshire's wider cultural contacts in the period.

It was probably buried for safety by a wealthy Viking leader during the unrest following the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in AD927.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: "The size and quality of the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years."

The find will now be valued for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by the Independent Treasure Valuation Committee.

Dr Williams said that the British Museum and the York Museums Trust would be looking to raise the funds to purchase the collection so it could eventually go on public display.

The proceeds would be split between the finders and landowners.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 906107.stm

Edit to change title.
Viking ship 'buried beneath pub'
A 1,000-year-old Viking longship is thought to have been discovered under a pub car park on Merseyside.
The vessel is believed to lie beneath 6ft to 10ft (2m to 3m) of clay by the Railway Inn in Meols, Wirral, where Vikings are known to have settled.

Experts believe the ship could be one of Britain's most significant archaeological finds.

Professor Stephen Harding, of the University of Nottingham, is now seeking funds to pay for an excavation.

The Viking expert used ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment to pinpoint the ship's whereabouts.

He believes the vessel could be carefully removed and exhibited in a museum.

Professor Harding said: "The next stage is the big one. Using the GPR technique only cost £450, but we have to think carefully about what to do next.

"Although we still don't know what sort of vessel it is, it's very old for sure and its Nordic clinker design, position and location suggests it may be a transport vessel from the Viking settlement period if not long afterwards.

"Scandinavian influence persisted here through the centuries.

"It is speculation at the moment, but at least we now know exactly where to look to find out. How it got there is also hard to say.

"It is some distance from the present coastline and probably the old one too.

"It might have got to its present position after flooding and sinking into an old marsh."

The ship was first uncovered in 1938 when the Railway Inn was being knocked down and rebuilt further from the road, the site of the old pub being made into a car park.

Workers were advised by the foreman to cover the ship over again so as not to delay construction.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/e ... 986986.stm

Published: 2007/09/10 10:29:18 GMT

Sorry Rynner,
My humble apologies!
I did have quick look round the board before posting, but I never thought to look there! ;)
Rare Viking-era shield found in Denmark

Archaeologist Kirsten Christensen says the wooden shield has a diameter of 32 inches. It was found Tuesday during excavations near Viking-age castles, some 60 miles west of Copenhagen.

Christensen said Thursday it is the first time such a shield has been found in Denmark. She said the moist soil in the area is "ideal to preserve wood."

The fir shield is believed to date from the late 10th century.

Danish Vikings launched bloody raids along the coasts of Western Europe about 1,000 years ago and even occupied parts of England.

Taking a Norse to water: New clues to Viking voyages

The mouse could help lift the veil on how the Norwegian Vikings established a seafaring kingdom that ranged from the tip of Scotland and Iceland to Greenland and Newfoundland, scientists said on Tuesday.

The mouse could help lift the veil on how the Norwegian Vikings established a seafaring kingdom that ranged from the tip of Scotland and Iceland to Greenland and Newfoundland, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers led by Jeremy Searle of the University of York, northern England, found the common house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) evolved into different strains after it spread into western Europe from the Middle East during the Iron Age, some 3,000 years ago.

Because mice colonise homes and hitch a ride in cargo, the differentiated strains are also a useful historical pointer, showing where humans ventured and where they settled, they argue.

In a study published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team looked at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) -- genetic material handed down by the maternal line -- found in preserved tissues from 310 mice found in 96 locations in Britain.

On the British mainland, the mice shared the same genetic heritage and bore a similarity with mice found in Germany, they discovered.

But mice found in the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland, though, were of "Viking" vintage, with kinship to mice found in Norway.

The finding fits with historical evidence that Orkney was a key centre within the Norwegian Viking kingdom of the 11th and 12th century, founded on sophisticated ships that could travel long distances and carry substantial cargo.

"MtDNA studies on house mice have the potential to reveal novel aspects of human history," says the study.

Mice remains could not only explain cultural associations and movements within the long-expired Viking kingdom, but also shed light on human migrations elsewhere, it adds.
One way or the other, Vikings are involved here...

Dorset Ridgeway’s killing field: were victims Vikings or local heroes?
Decapitated skulls and body parts being unearthed at the top of Ridgeway Hill
Simon de Bruxelles

It was a scene familiar from the killing fields of Iraq or the Balkans, but unheard of in rural Dorset. As the earth-moving machine peeled back a thin layer of topsoil, it exposed a tangled mass of human bones.

Fifty-one young men had been decapitated with swords or axes before their bodies were tossed into a pit. The heads were neatly stacked to one side.

Radio-carbon dating suggests that they were killed between 890 and 1034, when the South of England was pillaged by Viking raiders from Scandinavia. A month after the discovery archaeologists are beginning to piece the story together.

The pit was discovered during road improvements between Dorchester and Weymouth, venue for sailing events in the 2012 Olympics. A team of archaeologists had been following builders widening the A354 where it crosses the Ridgeway, a prehistoric track along the crest of the limestone hills of south Dorset.

What they found shook even experienced archaeologists used to dealing with the remains of the long dead. David Score, of Oxford Archaeology, the project manager, said: “When you are there surrounded by bones with a pile of skulls grimacing back at you, you can’t help but imagine how they met their end. It would have been a scene of absolute horror.”

Marks on the skulls, jaws and vertebrae showed where the heads had been hacked off, sometimes taking many blows.

Nothing else has been found in the grave so far. Mr Score said: “You might expect them to have been stripped of weapons and jewellery before execution, but the fact we haven’t found so much as a bone toggle suggests they were naked when they were executed.”

The identity of the skeletons may be revealed by their teeth. Isotopes in the enamel formed while the men were growing up will reveal whether their origins were in Scandinavia, Wessex — Alfred’s kingdom — or northern England, where large numbers of Danes had settled.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle records Viking raiders landing at Portland, not far from Weymouth. Could a raiding party have been captured and put to the sword? The bones will reveal whether the dead men had the massively developed upper bodies of Viking oarsmen; their teeth, where they grew up; and their DNA, whether they are related to people still living in the area.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 718631.ece

I must have been close by this place many times, when my parents lived in Weymouth. Strange to think what history may be hidden beneath our feet...
Viking hoard saved for the nation

Objects in the hoard have come from all over the world.
The largest Viking hoard found in Britain since the 19th century has been bought by two British museums.

The find, valued at £1,082,000, was discovered in a field in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, by a father and son metal-detector team in January 2007.

After two years of fundraising, the collection has been purchased by the York Museums Trust and the British Museum in London.

It is expected to go on display at the Yorkshire Museum in York next month.

The hoard includes a silver gilt vessel, 617 coins and various silver fragments, ingots and rings.

Initial conservation work suggests the treasures were hidden by a wealthy Viking after the Kingdom of Northumbria fell to the Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan in AD 927.

'Global significance'

The men who made the discovery have welcomed the news that the collection will be displayed in Yorkshire.

David and Andrew Wheelan, from Leeds, said: "We always dreamt of finding a hoard but to find one from such a fantastic period of history is just unbelievable.

"The contents of the hoard we found went far beyond our wildest dreams and hopefully people will love seeing the objects on display in York and London for many years to come."

The pair will share the £1,082,000 with the owners of the field, who wish to remain anonymous.

Jonathan Williams, the British Museum's keeper of prehistory and Europe, said it was a find of "global significance".

Historians believe the hoard will greatly increase their understanding of the wealth, culture and trading routes of the Vikings who lived in Yorkshire and the North-East during the early 900s.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 224729.stm
One way or the other, Vikings are involved here...

Dorset Ridgeway’s killing field: were victims Vikings or local heroes?
Weymouth ridgeway skeletons 'Scandinavian Vikings'

Fifty-one decapitated skeletons found in a burial pit in Dorset were those of Scandinavian Vikings, scientists say.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the group since they were discovered at Ridgeway Hill, near Weymouth, in June.

Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.

Archaeologists from Oxford believe the men were probably executed by local Anglo Saxons in front of an audience sometime between AD 910 and AD 1030.

The Anglo Saxons were increasingly falling victim to Viking raids and eventually the country was ruled by a Danish king.

The mass grave is one of the largest examples of executed foreigners buried in one spot.

It was discovered during investigative excavation work before construction started on a controversial £87m relief road through the ridgeway.

Samples of 10 remains were identified as Scandinavian by Dr Jane Evans and Carolyn Chenery, of NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, part of the British Geological Survey, based in Nottingham.

Their work has revealed that the men had scattered Scandinavian origins, with one even thought to be from north of the Arctic Circle.

Isotopes in the men's teeth also show they had eaten a high protein diet, comparable with known sites in Sweden.

Initially, it was thought the burial site dated from the Iron Age (from 800 BC) to early Roman times (from AD 43) after examining pottery in the pit, later identified as a Roman quarry.

Radiocarbon dating later revealed they were from the Saxon period.

Oxford Archaeology removed the 51 skulls from the ground and are continuing to examine the remains to try to link the find to historical events.

Project manager David Score said: "To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development.

"Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual."

He added that without analysing all the bodies it was impossible to know for certain that all the skeletons were those of Vikings, but it was possible to make a "strong inference".

The archaeologists believe the men were stripped naked either before being killed, or before being buried, because there was no evidence of clothing, such as pins or toggles.

Most of them were in their late teens to early 20s, with a handful in their 30s.

Dorset burial pit Viking had filed teeth

Archaeologist David Score said the practice would not have been a "pleasant experience"

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Vikings' skeletons go on display
Decapitated group 'were Vikings'

Archaeologists have discovered one of the victims of a suspected mass Viking burial pit found in Dorset had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Experts believe a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, belong to young Viking warriors.

During analysis, a pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Archaeologists think it may have been designed to frighten opponents or show status as a great fighter.

Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

"The incisions have been very carefully made and it is most likely that they were filed by a skilled craftsman.

"The purpose behind filed teeth remains unclear but, as we know these men were warriors, it may have been to frighten opponents in battle or to show their status as a great fighter."

Multiple wounds
The burial pit, found in 2009, contained 51 skulls and 54 bodies.

The burial pit, found in 2009, contained 51 skulls and 54 bodies
Many of the executed men suffered multiple wounds inflicted by a sharp blade, including one skeleton with six cut marks to the back of the neck.

Dorset County Council senior archaeologist Steve Wallis said radiocarbondating showed they come from about AD970 to 1025.

Mr Wallis said those dates fell within the period of Viking raids on the Anglo Saxons in the UK, and isotope analysis of teeth found in a severed jaw suggests they were from the Nordic countries.

He said: "It's great that the burial pit on Ridgeway is still surprising us and teaching us more about who these men may have been and what they may have been like.

"It is very rare that this kind of deliberate dental modification is found in European remains, although it is often found in cultures from around the world, so that it was found in an excavation in Dorset is fantastic."
Oxford Viking massacre revealed by skeleton find
By Louise Ord
Assistant Producer, Digging For Britain

Evidence suggests the men were running away from their attackers

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Evidence of a brutal massacre of Vikings in Oxford 1100 years ago has been uncovered by archaeologists.

At least 35 skeletons, all males aged 16 to 25 were discovered in 2008 at St John's College, Oxford.

Analysis of wound marks on the bones now suggests they had been subjected to violence.

Archaeologists analysing the find believe it dates from 1002 AD when King Ethelred the Unready ordered a massacre of all Danes (Vikings) in England.

The surprise discovery of the skeletons was made by Thames Valley Archaeological Services under the quadrangle at St John's College at the University of Oxford, before building work started on the site.

The bodies had not received any type of formal burial and they had been dumped in a mass grave on the site of a 4,000-year-old Neolithic henge monument.

Ceri Falys, an osteologist (a scientist who studies the structure of bones) from Thames Valley Archaeological Services, has been examining the bones since they were excavated. She has found a host of gruesome injuries on each of the individuals.

It was obvious at the time of excavation that many of the skulls had been fractured or crushed, but after piecing these skulls back together, she found that many of them were covered in blade and puncture wounds mostly to the back of the head.

Continue reading the main story
Find out more

Ceri Falys will be talking to Dr Alice Roberts about the bones in a new series of BBC Two's Digging For Britain, to be aired in September

BBC Two's Digging For Britain
WATCH: Footage from the site
One of the victims had puncture wounds to his pelvis that seem to have come from behind him and from the side, as well as substantial blade wounds to his skull, suggesting that he had been attacked from all sides by at least two different people.

These injuries were almost certainly fatal in each case, slicing through flesh and arteries right to the bone.

"Usually when people have been involved in hand to hand combat or are attacked you get evidence of this on the bones," Ceri Falys explained.

"You get cut marks on the forearms as they raise their arms to defend themselves, but we have minimal evidence of this on these skeletons, it seems that whoever was attacking them, it is likely that they were just trying to run away."'

King Ethelred ordered an "extermination" of England's Danes
It is possible that the Oxford skeletons were victims of an event called the St Brice's Day Massacre, recorded in a number of historical sources.

In AD1002, the Saxon king Ethelred the Unready recorded in a charter that he ordered "a most just extermination" of all the Danes in England.

He made the decision after he was told of a Danish plot to assassinate him.

The charter also recorded how on that day, the Danes in Oxford fled to St Fridewides church expecting to find refuge, but instead were pursued by the townspeople, who then set the church on fire.

Radiocarbon dating of the bones indicated that the bodies were dumped between AD960 and AD1020. This is compelling evidence for the association with St Brice's Day, explained archaeologist Sean Wallis, who directed the dig.

Continue reading the main story
• Vikings in England

789 First recorded Viking attack at Portland in Dorset. Viking coastal raids continue in the following decades.
867 Vikings capture York and make it their capital, Yorvik.
878 Viking power extends south. King Alfred of Wessex is forced into exile but returns to agree a division of England with Vikings ruling the east.
937 Athelstan wins a decisive battle over combined armies of Vikings and Scots to become the first King of all England. Viking coastal raids continue.
1002 Ethelred the Unready orders the extermination of all the Danes in England.
1013 King Sweyn of Denmark invades England and seizes the throne. The kingdom is disputed between Saxon and Danish kings over the following decades.
1066 William the Conqueror invades and founds a new Norman dynasty. The Normans were descended from Norwegian Vikings.
Timeline: Saxons and Vikings
"We found evidence of charring on some of the bones, but not in the soil surrounding them.

"This ties in nicely with the documentary sources that the bodies may have been partially burnt prior to burial," he said.

Isotope analysis of the bones has shown that the men were eating a diet that was high in seafood.

This is an unusual find considering that they lived in inland Britain and perhaps a further indication that they may have been first or second generation Vikings.

A similar mass grave was found last year by Oxford Archaeology during work to build the Weymouth relief road.

It was radiocarbon dated to a similar period and again containing only young male victims, indicating that Anglo Saxon violence towards Vikings at the time may have been nationwide.

Ceri Falys will be talking to Dr Alice Roberts about the bones in a new series of BBC Two's Digging For Britain in September.
Ardnamurchan Viking boat burial discovery 'a first'

The UK mainland's first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been uncovered in the north-west Highlands, archaeologists have said.
The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.
Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

Archaeologist Dr Hannah Cobb said the "artefacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain".
Dr Cobb, from the University of Manchester, a co-director of the project, said: "This is a very exciting find."
She has been excavating artefacts in Ardnamurchan for six years.

The universities of Manchester, Leicester, Newcastle and Glasgow worked on, identified, or funded the excavation.
Dr Oliver Harris from the University of Leicester says the burial artefacts belonged to a high-status individual
Archaeology Scotland and East Lothian-based CFA Archaeology have also been involved in the project which led to the find.

The term "fully-intact", used to describe the find, means the remains of the body along with objects buried with it and evidence of the boat used were found and recovered.
The Ardnamurchan Viking was found buried with an axe, a sword with a decorated hilt, a spear, a shield boss and a bronze ring pin.
About 200 rivets - the remains of the boat he was laid in - were also found.

Previously, boat burials in such a condition have been excavated at sites on Orkney.
Until now mainland excavations were only partially successful and had been carried out before more careful and accurate methods were introduced.

Other finds in the 5m-long (16ft) grave in Ardnamurchan included a knife, what could be the tip of a bronze drinking horn, a whetstone from Norway, a ring pin from Ireland and Viking pottery.
Dozens of pieces of iron yet to be identified were also found at the site.

The finds were made as part of the Ardnamurchan Transition Project (ATP) which has been examining social change in the area from the first farmers 6,000 years ago to the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Viking specialist Dr Colleen Batey, from the University of Glasgow, has said the boat was likely to be from the 10th Century AD.

Dr Oliver Harris, project co-director from the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, reinforced the importance of the burial site.
He said: "In previous seasons our work has examined evidence of changing beliefs and life styles in the area through a study of burial practices in the Neolithic and Bronze age periods 6,000-4,500 years ago and 4,500 to 2,800 years ago respectively.

"It has also yielded evidence for what will be one of the best-dated Neolithic chambered cairns in Scotland when all of our post-excavation work is complete.
"But the find we reveal today has got to be the icing on the cake."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-h ... s-15333852

They clearly want to keep the exact location secret for now, as Ardnanurchan is a large peninsula in the west of Scotland, opposite the island of Mull. (In fact Ardnamuchan Point is the most westerly part of the British mainland.)
Interesting. My girlfriend grey up in house up the road from The Railway Inn in Meols. I'll have to ask her if she knew anything about that.
Viking Era Discoveries

Incredible Viking hoard from days of Alfred the Great could 'fill in the blanks' about a murky period in British history
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:37 AM on 15th December 2011

When the Viking warrior buried his hoard of silver coins and jewellery in a lead container, he doubtless expected to be back for them after his next battle.
But thanks to those pesky Anglo Saxons, they remained undisturbed for more than 1,000 years... until Darren Webster discovered them with a metal detector during his lunch break.

Found just 18 inches beneath the surface of a field in Silverdale, Lancashire, the 201 objects were yesterday hailed by the British Museum as one of the most important Viking discoveries of recent times.
Based on previous finds, they could be worth as much as £500,000.
Mr Webster, a 39-year-old stonemason, said he found the hoard in September.
‘When I lifted the lead pot out of the ground there was a hole underneath and silver started to fall out. That is when I realised I had found something important.’

Quite how important became apparent when one of the 27 coins in the hoard proved to be a previously unrecorded type which the experts believe carries the name of an unknown Viking ruler in northern England.
The name is Airdeconut, thought to be an attempt to represent the Scandinavian name Harthacnut

The coin also helps to dispel the popularly held view that Vikings were all pagans who pillaged monasteries out of hatred of the Christian Church.
One side has the words ‘DNS [short for Dominus] REX’, which means ‘the Lord and King’, and they are arranged in the form of a cross, reflecting the fact that many Vikings converted to Christianity soon after settling in Britain.

Viking raids on Britain began in 793AD. Then in 865AD a full Viking army stormed through the country.
At the time the items were buried around 900AD, the Vikings were fighting the Anglo Saxons to keep control of the North of England – and presumably their owner came off second best.

The museum’s curator of early medieval coins, Dr Gareth Williams, estimated the total value of the items at the time of burial would have been enough to buy ‘a small estate, a large flock of sheep or a small herd of cattle’.
The haul, which has yet to be valued, went on display at the museum yesterday and will be examined by a coroner tomorrow.
If an inquest declares that it is treasure, it will be offered to the British Museum or a local museum which has it valued by an independent board of experts.

If the museum wants the find, it must pay the market value of the treasure to the finder and/or landowner. If it does not, the finder can keep it.
In this case, the Lancaster City Museum is interested in buying the find for its collection.
The proceeds are expected to be divided between Mr Webster and the owner of the land.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... z1gcOC845V
"The name is Airdeconut, thought to be an attempt to represent the Scandinavian name Harthacnut."

Though it is also an anagram of I Adore Cnut! :shock:
Great stuff. There are a few individual Viking stories. Maybe the Mods could add them to this one as its title is inclusive.
ramonmercado said:
There are a few individual Viking stories. Maybe the Mods could add them to this one as its title is inclusive.
Funny you should say that... ;)
There seems to have been a fair few hordes found over the past year or so, mainly AS and Viking. I wonder if there is currently an increase in metal detecting or just a spike in the stories that get published.
Do you think after burying the treasure, the viking drew a map with an X on it?
Xanatic_ said:
Do you think after burying the treasure, the viking drew a map with an X on it?
No, he carved the GPS co-ordinates in runes on a handy rock! :D
rynner2 said:
Xanatic_ said:
Do you think after burying the treasure, the viking drew a map with an X on it?
No, he carved the GPS co-ordinates in runes on a handy rock! :D
Hush, don't give a certain "everything was invented before 1930" poster ideas. ;)
Skeletons found in Dorset mass grave 'were mercenaries'

The bodies were dismembered and entangled
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

Decapitated group 'were Vikings'
Mass decapitation of Vikings or Saxons?
A mass grave in Dorset containing 54 decapitated skeletons was a burial ground for violent Viking mercenaries, according to a Cambridge archaeologist.

The burial site at Ridgeway Hill was discovered in 2009.

Archaeologists found the bodies of 54 men who had all been decapitated and placed in shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.

Carbon dating and isotype tests revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and dated from the 11th Century.

At this time Vikings were constantly attacking Anglo-Saxons on the English south coast.

Dr Britt Baillie, from the University of Cambridge, said she believed the killings could have taken place during the reign of Aethelred the Unready.

Following a series of Viking attacks he had ordered all Danish men living in England to be killed on 13 November, St Brice's Day in 1002.

The killings which ensued became known as the St Brice's Day massacre.

Murdered methodically
Remains have been found in Oxford and it is thought that massacres also took place in London, Bristol and Gloucester.

However, Dr Baille said in some respects the killings at Ridgeway Hill were unique.

Unlike the frenzied mob attack that took place at Oxford, all the men were murdered methodically and beheaded in an unusual fashion from the front.

The Cambridge academic said she believed the skeletons belonged to a group of Viking killers who modelled themselves on a legendary group of mercenaries.

They were the Jomsvikings, founded by Harald Bluetooth and based at Jomsborg on the Baltic coast.

Military codes
The Jomsvikings became known throughout the medieval world for their strict military codes, which included not showing fear and never running away in the face of the enemy unless completely outnumbered.

This could have led to the men being beheaded from the front, rather than being killed as they tried to escape.

Isotope testing was carried out on the men's teeth
Dr Baillie also found evidence for the men being imitators of Jomsvikings, in their teeth.

One man's teeth had incisions which could suggest that he had filed them himself to demonstrate his bravery.

Both of these features led Dr Baillie to believe that this was a group of mercenaries imitating the Jomsvikings, if not the Jomsvikings themselves.

Aethelred's second wife Queen Emma is known to have recorded a group of Viking killers in England at the time, led by Thorkel the Tall, an alleged Jomsviking.
More about the Viking mice. Maybe they kept the mice as pets.

The Viking journey of mice and men
http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-vik ... e-men.html
March 19th, 2012 in Biology / Evolution

House mice (Mus musculus) happily live wherever there are humans. When populations of humans migrate the mice often travel with them. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology has used evolutionary techniques on modern day and ancestral mouse mitochondrial DNA to show that the timeline of mouse colonization matches that of Viking invasion.

During the Viking age (late 8th to mid 10th century) Vikings from Norway established colonies across Scotland, the Scottish islands, Ireland, and Isle of Man. They also explored the north Atlantic, settling in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Newfoundland and Greenland. While they intentionally took with them domestic animals such as horses, sheep, goats and chickens they also inadvertently carried pest species, including mice.

A multinational team of researchers from the UK, USA, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden used techniques designed to characterize genetic similarity, and hence the relatedness of one population, or one individual, with another, to determine a mouse colonization timeline. Modern samples of mouse DNA were collected and compared to ancient samples dating mostly from the 10th to the 12th century. Samples of house mouse DNA were collected from nine sites in Iceland, Narsaq in Greenland, and four sites near the Viking archaeological site, L'Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland. The ancient samples came from the Eastern and Western settlements in Greenland and four archaeological sites in Iceland.

Analysis of mouse mitochondrial DNA showed that house mice (M. m. domesticus) hitched a lift with the Vikings, in the early 10th century, into Iceland, either from Norway or the northern part of the British Isles. From Iceland the mice continued their journey on Viking ships to settlements in Greenland. However, while descendants of these stowaways can still be found in Iceland, the early colonizers in Greenland have become extinct and their role has been filled by interloping Danish mice (M. m. musculus) brought by a second wave of European human immigrants.

Dr Eleanor Jones (affiliated with the University of York and Uppsala University) explained, "Human settlement history over the last 1000 years is reflected in the genetic sequence of mouse mitochondrial DNA. We can match the pattern of human populations to that of the house mice." Prof Jeremy Searle, from Cornell University, continued, "Absence of traces of ancestral DNA in modern mice can be just as important. We found no evidence of house mice from the Viking period in Newfoundland. If mice did arrive in Newfoundland, then like the Vikings, their presence was fleeting and we found no genetic evidence of it."

More information: Fellow travellers: a concordance of colonization patterns between mice and men in the North Atlantic region, E P Jones, K Skirnisson, T H McGovern, M T P Gilbert, E Willerslev and J B Searle, BMC Evolutionary Biology (in press)

Provided by BioMed Central
This is something that the Vikings are suspected to have used for navigation - though it has never been proven thus far:

The sixteenth century Alderney crystal: a calcite as an efficient reference optical compass?

The crystal recently discovered in the 1592 sunken Elizabethan ship is shown to be an Iceland spar. We report that two main phenomena, with opposite effects, explain the good conservation and the evolution of this relatively fragile calcite crystal. We demonstrate that the Ca2+–Mg2+ ion exchanges in such a crystal immersed in sea water play a crucial role by limiting the solubility, strengthening the mechanical properties of the calcite, while the sand abrasion alters the crystal by inducing roughness of its surface. Although both phenomena have reduced the transparency of the Alderney calcite crystal, we demonstrate that Alderney-like crystals could really have been used as an accurate optical sun compass as an aid to ancient navigation, when the Sun was hidden by clouds or below the horizon. To avoid the possibility of large magnetic errors, not understood before 1600, an optical compass could have helped in providing the sailors with an absolute reference. An Alderney-like crystal permits the observer to follow the azimuth of the Sun, far below the horizon, with an accuracy as great as ±1°. The evolution of the Alderney crystal lends hope for identifying other calcite crystals in Viking shipwrecks, burials or settlements.

http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... b11d50e28f