26 March 2016

Medieval Viking finds on an Island off the Coast of Wales

Oftentimes, it is difficult to find worthwhile material to impart to this blogging effort on all things medieval Viking. After sifting through what I have found, I selected the following for your edification.

This information comes to us from the ongoing BBC efforts to report on the historical significance of the Viking Age on their islands. This particular dig is situated on the Welsh island of Anglesey, situated just off the northwest coast of Wales. (Ed.)



In 1992 Mark Redknap, from the National Museum of Wales, was sent some small artefacts from Anglesey. The haul included ninth-century coins and some small lead weights typical of those used by Viking traders. Evidence for the Vikings in Wales is sparse, but a hoard of five exquisite silver arm rings had also been found on Anglesey. The island itself has Scandianvian connections, probably deriving its name, Onguls-ey, from a Viking leader.

Based on this evidence, Mark instigated a geophysical survey of the site where these objects had been found, and discovered a hidden trench. Excavations then began which revealed a ninth-century defensive wall, partly constructed with massive stone blocks and about two metres wide at its base. The question was, what were the inhabitants of this settlement defending themselves against?

Archaeologists uncover some surprising finds ©

In the Welsh Annals Mark found records of Viking raids in the ninth and tenth centuries. Combined with the archaeological clues to a Scandinavian presence, Mark began to suspect these local people might have been under threat from Vikings.

A few seasons into the excavation Mark got a surprise. Two skeletons were found. It looked as if they had been thrown into the ditch - without the care or ceremony one would expect if they had been buried by family and friends. The following year three more skeletons turned up. The position of one, a young male, led Mark to believe his hands had been tied behind his back. It's possible these Welsh victims of violence were killed by the Vikings.

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