03 September 2016

Viking Ireland

Ireland, the entire island, but most especially the northern portion, is rich in pre-history. In the past few years a wealth of Viking artifacts and lore have been gleaned under the streets of Dublin. There is bound to be lots more, so stay tuned.

This short article alludes to some of it. I encourage those readers with an interest in all things Viking to avail themselves of the videos on the subject by clicking the link at the end of this missive. (Ed.)

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Viking Ireland

Explore the Vikings and how they changed Ireland between 800 and 1150 AD.

Artifacts from Dublin excavation
No Wheelchair Access Vikings and their descendants had a profound impact on Ireland, from their first appearance just before 800AD until after 1150AD. Traditionally seen as raiders and invaders, Vikings also helped transform Ireland economically, culturally and politically. This exhibition explores the Viking Age in Ireland through surviving objects – including objects from Viking graves of the 9th and 10th centuries and from settlement sites of the 10 th to 12th centuries. Artefacts from Dublin excavations At the centre of the exhibition is a display of finds from the Museum’s excavations in Dublin, the most important Viking site in Ireland. This is one of the finest collections of excavated finds from an early medieval site anywhere in Europe. A final section displays church metalwork and other ecclesiastical material of the 11 th and 12 th centuries, which shows how Scandinavian features were absorbed into Irish culture, including art styles, in the later Viking Age. Coinciding with this exhibition we have developed eight videos on Viking Ireland. Location: National Museum of Ireland ­ Archaeology, First Floor, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. From early raids to the formation of the first towns, Ireland changed profoundly during the the Viking Age. A decorated wooden gaming board found at Ballinderry was probably made in 10th­ century Dublin.
http://www.museum.ie/Archaeology/Exhibitions/Current-Exhibitions/Clontarf-1014/Viking-Ireland-Videos

27 August 2016

USA: VIKING ARTEFACTS DISCOVERED NEAR GREAT LAKES

This satirical article from World News Daily that ran in 2014 is very exciting, truthful content, spelling, and grammatical errors notwithstanding. I don’t know whether or not is has any validity, but if it does prove to be true it would set the much vaunted field of archaeology on its ear. Any truth in it would necessitate the destruction and/or revision of whole libraries full of books that flatly state the Norse never penetrated into America. Really?

I have long maintained that the Norse, or Vikings as most people call them, penetrated large areas of North America long before any other white man ever came to this continent. They were explorers after all.

I have written three character driven historical fiction novels – the 
Axe of Iron series - about the assimilation I believe occurred between the Norse Greenlanders, who came to this continent during pre-historical times, and the native Indian population. (Ed.)

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World News Daily



Michigan| A group of amateur archaeologists searching for the remains of a Native American settlements near the town of Cheboygan, on the coast of Lake Huron, have uncovered a large quantity of artefacts, allegedly of Norse or Viking origin. A total of 194 objects, mostly made from various metals including silver, iron, copper and tin, were found on what could be the site of an ancient viking trade post, controlling the Straights of Mackinac, that leads to Lake Michigan.

The artefacts are of various nature and geographical origin. Swords, axes and other weapons from Scandinavian or Germanic origin, silver buttons and a balance scale allegedly from the British isles, hair combs and knife handles made of walrus ivory and originating from Greenland or Iceland… The presence of all these goods suggests an elaborate and efficient economic system based on long-distance trade.

Archaeologists had been searching the eastern coast of North America for signs of the passage of Norsemen, ever since the discovery in 1960 of the site of l’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, Canada. Many items found on that first site had suggested that an elaborate network of trade existed between that specific Norse colony and the American continent. Such clues included the remains of butternuts, which didn’t grow on any land north of the province of New Brunswick, and therefore had to be “imported”. Other possible Norse outposts were identified in 2012, in Nanook, in the Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as in Nunguvik, on the Willows Island and the Avayalik Islands.

This is however the first Viking settlement discovered in the area of the North American Great Lakes, and this could bring a lot of new information concerning the actual extent of their trade network on the continent. The site is strategically located to enable control of the waterways leading to both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, while enabling a navigable access to the St-Lawrence Bassin and the Atlantic Ocean. All of the items already already recovered have been transfered for further analysis to the Department of Archaeology of the University of Michigan, which has also inherited the responsability for the site. Further research should be done over the next months to complete the survey of the site and gather all possible remaining artefacts.


23 August 2016

Potential Viking site found in Newfoundland

Here's a little more info related to the exciting archaeological find of possible Norse artifacts at a second site in southwestern Newfoundland, Canada.

I don't know why the author decided to include the negative input from Parks Canada's Brigitta Wallace. Certainly Wallace would attempt to denigrate any new information on the Norse on Newfoundland. She has built an entire career being the resident expert on everything in and around the L 'Anse aux Meadows Norse site and she no doubt views this new site as a threat to her turf. Move over Wallace, this site is definitely going to steal your thunder. (Ed.)

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Satellites help locate potential Norse site in island's southwest corner

By Garrett Barry, CBC News Posted: Apr 01, 2016 6:34 AM NT Last Updated: Apr 01, 2016 10:14 PM NT

A second, more southern Viking site may have just been found in Newfoundland, according to research from an international team of archeologists working in the province.
Researcher Sarah Parcak told CBC News that her team has found evidence of a Norse-like hearth and eight kilograms of early bog iron in an area near the southwestern-most coast of Newfoundland.

Chase Childs, left, and Sarah Parcak, right, search for evidence of a Viking presence at Point Rosee in 2015. (Greg Mumford)
  Parcak, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, said the findings at Point Rosee on the island are highly suggestive of a Norse presence in the area.
"We did not find one single shred of any [contradictory] evidence, so that leaves two options," she said. "It's either a new culture that looks and presents exactly like Norse, or Norse."
"But obviously we have a lot of work left in front of us before we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is."

A potentially historic find
If the results are born out through further research, Point Rosee would become just the second verified Viking site in North America.

Researchers believe Point Rosee, about 600 kilometres south of L'Anse aux Meadows, may be the second Norse settlement discovered in Newfoundland. (Google Maps)
The first site is at L'Anse Aux Meadows, near the northern-most tip of Newfoundland, about 600 kilometres away.
Evidence of that thousand-year-old settlement was discovered in the 1960s and took years to verify.
Archeologists maintain that Vikings may have used their L'Anse aux Meadows settlement as a "base camp for expeditions further south."
It's not known how long that camp — now a popular tourist attraction that Parks Canada operates as a National Historic Site — was used before it was abandoned about a thousand years ago. 
At the very least, the researchers in Point Rosee have found evidence of another early iron-working site in the province.
The Norse were the only ones extracting iron from bogs 1,000 years ago.

As part of their early research, Parcak said, the team used Google Maps satellite imagery to look for potential hot spots along the Atlantic Ocean.
Further high-resolution scans led them to send a team to Point Rosee and start to survey for artifacts.
Parcak won the 2016 TED Prize for her work using satellite imagery in archeology, a field the organization said she largely engineered.
"When we started the project, my hypothesis wasn't that we would find anything Norse, my hypothesis was that we would not," she said. 
Instead, after a survey in 2015, her team found signs of iron-working and evidence of a turf wall, like the ones the Norse are known to have used.

More research needed
'There's just not enough evidence to go either way on it.'- Newfoundland and Labrador archeologist Martha Drake.
Newfoundland and Labrador government officials who worked alongside the searchers say more evidence, and more artifacts, are needed to be sure of a Viking presence on the island`s western coast.
"There's just not enough evidence to date to go either way on it," said Martha Drake, an archeologist with the provincial offices.
Birgitta Wallace, considered the foremost authority on the Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, was equally unconvinced that the find was an authentic Norse site.
"The roasting of the ore could be accidental. All it would take is a camp fire on the ground where the soil is full of bog ore. Such areas are common in Newfoundland," she wrote in an email.
Wallace was part of the excavation team at L'Anse aux Meadows.

The researchers have found what they believe to be evidence of Norse turf walls at their dig site in Point Rosee in Newfoundland. (BBC)
She's not sure the supposed turf walls are an exact match, either.
"The results could be exciting, but until then I consider the case unsettled."

Parcak said she's looking for more evidence. She'd like to see more carbon-dating that coincides with the Viking era, further evidence of metal-working and maybe a Norse-specific object to put them over the top.
"I hate, as an archeologist … to say it's definitely Norse," she said. "We absolutely cannot say that right now."
"A lot of people in the press are calling this a Norse settlement. We absolutely cannot call it a settlement."
"If it is Norse, the most we can say right now is that it's a small farm or perhaps a temporary winter camp."

Documentary on work
Parcak has teamed up with PBS and BBC to produce a documentary about her work in Newfoundland.
The NOVA program Vikings Unearthed will air on BBC One at 5 p.m. NT on April 4, and will show on PBS at 10:30 p.m. NT on April 6.
Parcak is planning a return to Point Rosee this summer in hopes of finding definitive evidence of a Norse presence.
"We're beginning to get contacted by Norse specialists from different parts of the world," she said. "I think when we go back this summer and in future seasons, we'll have a very strong team of specialists from diverse areas."
"To really collect a lot more evidence and hopefully prove that the site is Norse."


13 August 2016

Three Viking Sites Possibly Found in Canada

This interesting article provides more information on what is going on up in Canada insofar as the archaeological sites that may be Norse recently discovered on Newfoundland.

The only real difference to an earlier post is the map, but I include the whole article again for those who may not have happened by previously.

As you look at the map, the three landmasses depicted in yellow are Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland.

The author attributes too much credence to the sagas when he states that Leif Eiriksson called the new land Vinland. Nobody knows what Leif called anyplace that he voyaged to because he left no written record. The name Vinland was coined by a single writer: the sagas that the author refers to were written by a German cleric named Adam of Bremen who is responsible for all the wheat and grape references that are so popular with writers nowadays.

Oh, did I tell you that Adam of Bremen wrote this fiction 200+ years after the facts that he shovels. Make your own determination about his contentions. The sagas make interesting reading for the most part. They are neither accurate or historical, but rather assumptions penned several hundred years after the facts they espouse by people who never visited any of the places they write about.  (Ed.)

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by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 18, 2016 08:21am ET

Map showing location of possible sites, from Live Science


Another possible Viking site, located at a place called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, was discovered using satellite imagery.
Credit: Image courtesy Point Rosee Project
Three archaeological sites that may have been used by Vikings around 1,000 years ago were excavated recently in Canada. If confirmed, the discoveries would add to the single known Viking settlement in the New World, located at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Excavated in the 1960s, that Viking outpost was used for a short period of time around 1,000 years ago as well.

Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland. [See Photos of the Newfound Viking Sites]

Even so, pinpointing actual Viking remains or other clues of Viking settlements has been difficult, making the three sites — two in Newfoundland and the other in the Arctic — intriguing to archaeologists.

Point Rosee

Sarah Parcak, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues spotted the so-called Point Rosee site in southern Newfoundland while scanning satellite imagery, and announced their discovery a few weeks ago.

The team found what may be a hearth used to roast bog iron, as well as a structure, of some type, made with turf. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the site was used sometime between the ninth and 13th centuries.

These finds, the researchers say, suggest that Vikings may have used the site, though more dating information and excavation are needed to confirm that idea, they said. Additionally, even if it is a Viking site, it's uncertain how long the Vikings lived there.

"I think that all of us would be in agreement in urging you to relay the preliminary nature of the findings — the unconfirmed cultural and period affiliations," said team co-director Gregory Mumford, who is also a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Sop's Arm 

Another possible Viking site turned up after archaeologists investigated a series of peculiar holes in a small town called Sop's Arm near White Bay, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of L'Anse aux Meadows. Archaeologists say that these "pitfalls," which have been known to exist near the town, would have been used to trap large animals, such as caribou.

The possible bog iron roasting hearth can be seen beside the structure made of turf at Point Rosee.
Credit: 1- Photo courtesy Gregory Mumford
In 1961, Helge Ingstad, the archaeologist who would excavate L'Anse aux Meadows, was guided to the pitfalls by a local man named Watson Budden. Ingstad thought it was likely that the Vikings had constructed the holes, but he didn't excavate them.

In 2010, archaeologists surveyed and excavated the pitfalls. They found that the pitfalls form a 269-foot-long (82 meters) system that lies in an almost straight line, the team wrote in an article published in the journal Acta Archaeologica in 2012. Each of the pits is about 23 to 33 feet (7 to 10 m) long and about 5 to 7.5 feet (1.5 to 2.3 m) deep.

Perhaps the Vikings drove animals toward the pits, where they would have fallen in and been killed, said Kevin Mcaleese, a curator of archaeology and ethnology at the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. The team did find stones inside the pitfalls that could have injured animals that had fallen inside. However, the archaeologists didn't find any artifacts and were unable to obtain clear radiocarbon dates for the pits.

"No Newfoundland and Labrador aboriginal group or archaeological culture is known in historic times or in ancient times to have regularly trapped animals with pitfalls," Mcaleese said. "I am developing a research plan for the site and area, but have not yet secured funds."

Kent Budden, nephew of Watson Budden, collected a number of what he suspects are Norse artifacts from the Sop's Arm area, including an iron ax and other iron artifacts, as well as a stone that has what could be a serpent carved into it.

Kent Budden died in 2008, and his brother Owen Budden showed photographs of the artifacts to Live Science. (Before he died, Kent Budden also gave a presentation of the collection, which can now be seen on YouTube.)

Mcaleese said he is not very familiar with the collection. "What I have seen does not appear to be Norse, and my colleagues think similarly," he said.

Nanook 

The Vikings also may have settled, at least for a bit, in Nanook on Baffin Island. Researchers recently discovered the remains of a building that may have been constructed by the Vikings and artifacts that may have been used in metalworking. Among the artifacts was a stone crucible that may "represent the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking in the New World north of Mesoamerica," wrote a team of archaeologists in a paper published in 2014 in the journal Geoarchaeology.

A structure that may have been used by the Vikings was in the process of being excavated in 2012, when lead archaeologist Patricia Sutherland was abruptly fired from the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now called the Canadian Museum of History) and the excavations were terminated. 

Many Canadian archaeologists condemned Sutherland's abrupt termination and the decision to end the project. They noted that the Canadian government, which owned the museum and funded her project, proceeded to pour millions of dollars into locating and excavating a ship destroyed in 1847 during the ill-fated Franklin expedition. This expedition, led by Sir John Franklin, aimed to find a sea route through the Canadian Arctic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The expedition ended with the death of Franklin and his crew.

This funding decision led to accusations that the federal government favored research into British remains over those of the Vikings. In 2015, a new federal government was elected, but it remains unknown whether it will fund new research at the Nanook site.

Where is Vinland?

One of the mysteries that researchers have been trying to solve is the location of a place that the Viking sagas call "Vinland" (wine land). Historical texts describe a place where grapes and timber could be found.

Famed Viking explorer Leif Ericson is said to have led an expedition to Vinland. The sagas say that Ericson was so impressed by what he found that he told his crew that, "from now on, we have two jobs on our hands: On one day, we shall gather grapes, and on the next, we shall cut grapevines and chop down the trees to make a cargo for my ship." The stories, as translated by Einar Haugen in the 1942 book "Voyages to Vinland: The First American Saga," go on to say that "Leif gave this country a name to suit its resources: He called it Vinland."

Grapes don't grow as far north as Newfoundland, leaving some researchers to speculate that Vinland is located farther south, possibly around New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Maine. Others think that Newfoundland is Vinland and that the "grapes" could refer to wild berries, which are found in abundance in Newfoundland.

So far, no potential Viking sites have been discovered south of Newfoundland, although a coin, minted in Norway between A.D. 1065 and 1080, was discovered in Maine in 1957 by an amateur archaeologist at a Native American site. How the coin arrived at that site is a mystery.


06 August 2016

Mighty Viking Axe Discovered in Tomb of Medieval Power Couple


This article comes to us from Live Science and details the discovery of the tomb of a man and woman from the Viking Age.

The largest axe head ever found in that country has been recovered from the man's grave. The axe was the only thing buried with him.

The woman's grave contained several items valuable to science including a single human hair from which they hope to recover DNA. (Ed.)

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Mighty Viking Ax Discovered in Tomb of Medieval 'Power Couple'
By Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor | July 21, 2016 12:52pm ET

 

One of the largest Dane axes ever found, recovered by archaeologists from a 10th-century Viking tomb near Silkeborg in central Denmark.
Credit: Silkeborg Museum

Archaeologists have discovered one of the largest Viking axes ever found, in the tomb of a 10th-century "power couple" in Denmark.

Kirsten Nellemann Nielsen, an archaeologist at the Silkeborg Museum who is leading excavations at the site near the town of Haarup, said Danish axes like the one found in the tomb were the most feared weapons of the Viking Age.
"It's a bit extraordinary — it's much bigger and heavier than the other axes. It would have had a very long handle, and it took both hands to use it," Nielsen told Live Science. [See Photos of the 10th-Century Viking Tomb]

The simplicity of the mighty ax, without any decorations or inscriptions, suggests this fearsome weapon was not just for show. "It's not very luxurious," she said.  

And the man in the tomb was buried with his ax alone. "He didn't have anything else buried with him, so I think you can say he identified himself as a warrior above anything else," Nielsen said.

The ax was one of the artifacts recovered from the Haarup Viking tomb, ordødehus, which means "death house" in Danish. The tomb consisted of a wooden palisade or roofed structure, about 13 feet (4 meters) wide and 43 feet (13 m) long, which was constructed around the two graves.

One of three people found in the tomb was a wealthy Viking woman, who was buried in a wooden cart similar to this reconstruction at Silkeborg Museum.
Credit: Silkeborg Museum
The tomb was built around A.D. 950 for the burial of a man and a woman of evident distinction, Nielsen said. The individuals were identified by their clothing and belongings, and the only human remains that survived the centuries was a single black human hair found in the woman's clothing.

The woman was buried lying in a wooden wagon, which was a tradition for women of noble birth at the time, and a pair of keys found in the tomb indicated that she was one of the leading people in the community, according to the archaeologists.

Keys were a symbol of authority and distinction for women in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe in the Middle Ages, and the tradition likely dated back to an earlier time, Nielsen said. "If you are an important woman, with a lot of fine artifacts with you in the grave, then you also have a key," she said.
One of the keys was for a small wooden casket, bound with iron brackets, that was buried beside her.
"She also had gold and silver threads woven into her clothing, so this is quite fine," Nielsen said.
Viking "power couple"

Nielsen said the man and woman in the tomb may not have been husband and wife, but they were clearly the local "power couple." 
"The special thing about this tomb is that these two people, each in their own grave, are put inside the same structure," she said. "I can't say it isn't a brother and sister, or it could be [a] husband and wife relationship. But definitely, these two were the ones in charge, the noblest people of the local area."

At some point in time, after the first man and woman were buried, a second man was buried in a grave inside a wooden structure that was added to the original tomb. This man was also buried with his ax, although it was not as large as the ax from the original burial, the researchers said.
Nielsen thinks the second man could have been a relative or successor of the first man. "He was definitely a warrior," she said. "Both men had Dane axes made for fighting, and both were definitely warriors."

The tomb at Haarup was unlike any other Viking tomb in Denmark and the other Viking burials uncovered at the same site, she said.
"This is unique — the only one of its kind that I know of," Nielsen said. "It's a special place."

International connections

Other finds from the tomb, and other sites in Haarup, show that the local Vikings likely had some international connections, whether through trade or travel, the archaeologists said. 

The woman in the tomb was buried with a decorated ceramic cup that originated in the Baltic region, Nielsen said. Two silver coins of a Middle Eastern type called “dirhams,” thought to be from an area that is now in Afghanistan, were found in the grave of another Viking woman buried nearby.

Nielsen has been working at Haarup since the site was unearthed during the construction of a motorway in 2012. As more construction goes on in the area, more archaeological discoveries are being made, including artifacts from the Iron Age and Danish medieval periods, as well as the Viking 10th century.
"From the Vikings, we have only found their burials — we haven't found their houses yet, so we know them only from their graves," Nielsen said. "They most definitely lived there, but we just haven't found the place yet."

Future archaeological research from Haarup will focus on the four different types of woven cloth found in the graves, the construction of the small casket in the leading woman's grave, and the single black hair found in her clothing — the only human remains that have survived, and potentially a source of DNA that could provide more clues about its owner, Nielsen said.

A report on the discoveries at Haarup, titled "Dead and Buried in the Viking Age," can be read online (in Danish) at Academia.edu.
Original article on Live Science.


30 July 2016

Crafts andVikings Festival 15th - 16th August 2016


I offer the following information from the Viking Ship Museum to go along with my previous post about the summertime activities at the museum, which is located near Roskilde, Denmark.

Go to the museum's website to view all the interesting events and displays. (Ed.)

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Meet Vikings - Nordic craftwork - fire and flames - Viking traders - build your own boat - modelboat race - sailing - family activities - food and drink - music
More than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings set Scandinavia on the world map. A lust for adventure and their skillful ship technology brought them around the world.


The Viking Ship Museum's festival, 'Crafts and Vikings' offers a unique opportunity to experience and try maritime craftwork: traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation, from the Viking Age right up to today.


For the festival we have gathered a group of skilled craftworkers, who will demonstrate their skills and give the whole family the chance to try their hand at the old crafts.
As something new this year, the festival has also gathered together local organic food producers, who will offer samples of their wares, based on modern interpretations of Viking Age meals.
Come and enjoy an exciting and action-packed weekend, where you can experience, try and learn new knowledge about the Vikings, their impressive ships and traditional maritime crafts from the Viking Age to the present day.
This all takes place at the Viking Ship Museum and on the atmospheric Roskilde Fjord, accompanied by the sound of music.
Crafts og Viking Festival 2015
The Crafts and Vikings Festival runs the 15th and the 16th of August from 10.00 to 17.00

Evening event with music and New Nordic Viking Food 15th of August from 18:00 - 22.00

Where:
The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Vindeboder 12, DK-4000 Roskilde

Admission to the Viking Ship Museum and the Festival:
Museum admission 115 kr. for adults. Under 18 years old free admission.
The ticket includes admission to the Festival.

Sailing in traditional Nordic boats DKK 95. A boat trip takes approximately 50 minutes.

» Read more about the Festival here...
By: Rikke Tørnsø Johansen


24 July 2016

Work with Red-Hot Iron the Viking Way

This from the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark. I have been there, and each summer they have interesting demonstrations for their many visitors.

If you are close enough to Roskilde to pop in during the final week of July or in mid-August, do so, you will not be sorry.

Next week I'll give you a look at what the museum has lined up for August. (Ed.)

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Work with Red-Hot Iron the Viking Way

In week 30 you have the opportunity to try your hand at the ancient art of blacksmithing.





In week 30 we'll be making iron rivets from bog ore. This will be a unique archaeological experiment, where visitors can follow the smelting of the bog ore, the forging of the rivets and the use of the rivets in the boat. Museum guests can also try their own hand at making an iron nail. Our skilled blacksmiths will both demonstrate and explain the noble art of blacksmithing- so come and join in!

By: Sabine Stubbe Østergaard
19/07 - 2016