25 April 2022

Vikings Shipped Walrus Ivory to Medieval Islamic Merchants 4000km Away

Ancient Origins never fails to produce timely articles on the medieval Vikings. This article, published on 23 April 2022 is no exception.

As always I have provided a link to the article on the Ancient Origin website for those who want "the rest of the story."

It always amazes me to see how the left-wingers manage to insert verbiage on climate change into an article that has nothing whatever to do with the term. They managed to insert it into the very first sentence this time.

You will note that one of the archaeologists uses a strained supply of walrus ivory for the Greenland Viking's trade with Europe to cease and as the reason for their abandonment of their settlements on Greenland sometime in the 15 century. His contention is theory; nobody knows why they disappeared, nor even where they went. (Ed.)


UPDATED 23 APRIL, 2022 - 18:59 SAHIR

With the accelerated pace of climate change and global warming wreaking havoc on the ice sheets of the world, particularly Greenland, new evidence emerges from the ice-capped country. Greenland was a Viking colony from the 10th-15th century. They suddenly abandoned it and scholars are still debating why the Vikings left, with new evidence emerging just last month . Now, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals Vikings shipped walrus ivory from their settlement in the icy colony all the way to Kyiv, over 4,000 kms away!

“Based on the [walrus] rostra finds reported here, it is reasonable to hypothesize that a Dnieper route may have augmented or replaced pre-existing practices,” write the authors of the study.
The Site in Kyiv: A Medieval Trading Waterfront

Evidence was collected from excavations carried out by archaeologist Natalio Khamaiko of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, who’s been persistently digging at a vacant lot at 35 Spaska Street in Kyiv, Ukraine since 2007. This site had notoriously disappointed all of Khamaiko’s predecessors, who had conducted detailed archaeological surveys here in the hope of uncovering gold – after all, Norse merchants used to trade furs for silver minted in the medieval Islamic world, and this waterfront had witnessed an all-around boom in economic activity.

19 February 2022

Did the Vikings Actually Torture Victims With the Brutal ‘Blood Eagle’?

 This interesting article was published in Smithsonian Magazine, December 2021. The author(s) delve into everything known about the Blood Eagle, an imaginative method of torture and execution used by the Norse Vikings.

If the topic is of interest draw your own conclusions. (Ed.)


New research reveals the feasibility of the infamous execution method

In each of the extant nine accounts, the victim is captured in battle and has an eagle of some sort carved into their back. Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Did the Vikings Actually Torture Victims With the Brutal ‘Blood Eagle’?

In popular lore, few images are as synonymous with Viking brutality as the “blood eagle,” a practice that allegedly found torturers separating the victim’s ribs from their spine, pulling their bones and skin outward to form a set of “wings,” and removing their lungs from their chest cavity. The execution method shows up twice in the popular History Channel drama series “Vikings” as a ritual reserved for the protagonists’ worst enemies, Jarl Borg and King Ælla, a fictionalized counterpart to the actual Northumbrian ruler. In the video game “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla,” Ivarr the Boneless, a character based on the Viking chieftain who invaded the British Isles in the ninth century C.E., performs the blood eagle on his nemesis, King Rhodri.

These representations take their cue from medieval sources written in both Old Norse and Latin. In each of the extant nine accounts, the victim is captured in battle and has an eagle of some sort carved into their back. Some references to the torture are terse. Others are more graphic, aligning with the extreme versions depicted in contemporary popular culture. Either way, the ritual’s appearance in these texts is intended to send a message tied to honor and revenge.

18 December 2021

Early Viking Sword Found in Norway

Here's an interesting article from Sputnik News about a sword found in Norwegian farm field by a man using a metal detector, once again proving the old adage about being in the right place at the right time. (Ed.)


Norwegian Man Stumbles Upon 'Unique' Early Viking Sword

He describes his reaction as a mixture of surprise and joy. He rushed to call local archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø. Pilø recalled having “one happy detectorist on the phone”, describing it as a special discovery and praising Høystad-Lunna for putting a lot of work into his hobby and his concern for doing everything right.

“It is not common for people to bring in weapons. They mostly find jewellery, buckles, and smaller objects, so bringing in a sword is a rarity indeed”, fellow archaeologist Kjetil Skare explained.

According to Pilø, the sword seems to date from the early Viking age, is about 1,200-years-old and belongs to an uncommon type. Viking swords have been found in Innland County before, but most of the finds were made in the 19th century, he explained. This is all the more dramatic given that the sword was found in cultivated land, where whole artifacts are rare as they tend to be damaged or destroyed by ploughs.

“There are even preserved remnants of leather or textile that are wrapped around the grip”, Pilø noted.

Pilø stressed that archaeological finds were made on the same farm before, although not of the same calibre or level of preservation.

Summing up, he once again stressed the importance of amateur archaeology with the help of metal detectors, as long as it is done the right way.

“The antiquities that lie in farmland slowly break down and are lost due to cultivation”, Pilø said, praising Høystad-Lunna for saving the sword for posterity.

27 November 2021

Gjellestad was a major Viking burial ground, new research reveals

 This installment from Medievalists briefs us on a very important archaeological site in southeastern Norway, off Oslo fjord, that is believed to be the largest Viking burial site extant. (Ed.)


Gjellestad, Norway, is home to the Jell Mound, one of the largest early medieval funerary mounds in all of Scandinavia. However, new research suggests that this is just scratching the surface— the site may also feature a previously unknown Viking ship burial, cult site, and feast hall.

The discovery, published in the journal Antiquity, was made without digging up the site. Instead, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was used to map features below the surface. This survey began in 2017 to determine if construction plans would put any archaeology near the Jell Mound at risk. Historical records indicate three other funeral mounds at the site were demolished in the 19th century, suggesting there is more to the site than meets the eye. However, it turns out that even the three demolished mounds are just the tip of the iceberg.

The GPR showed 13 burial mounds once existed at Gjellestad, some over 30 metres wide. One of these mounds features an anomaly in the GPR data that likely represents a buried ship. Such ship burials were likely reserved for powerful Viking individuals. Additionally, the researchers found a farmhouse in the GPR data. They also spotted a large building, likely a feast hall, and another hall that does not appear intended for habitation. Instead, it may be a cult house or other religious structure.

Location of Gjellestad close to the eastern shores of the Oslofjord, Norway, along with well-known contemporaneous sites around the Oslofjord (map source: © Kartverket/CC-BY-4.0; figure by L. Gustavsen).

23 November 2021

Viking Temple to Thor and Odin Unearthed In Norway

Ancient Origins has posted this interesting article on archaeologists discovery of a temple to the  Norse gods Thor and Odin. Little is known about the religious beliefs of the Vikings, so this find is especially valuable. (Ed.)


Viking temple to Thor and Odin

Viking Temple to Thor and Odin Unearthed In Norway

The Viking Age has fascinated people for generations and now we have a newly discovered ancient Viking temple that has finally shed some new light on Norse religion . Believe it or not, there is a lot we don’t know about these fearsome warriors and daring explorers. For example, scholars know relatively little about specific Viking religious practices. For this reason, the discovery of this ancient Viking temple in Norway, dedicated to the Norse Gods, is an exceptionally important discovery.

An Early Viking Settlement And A Rare Ancient Viking Temple
Recently, a group of archaeologists, from the University Museum of Bergen, have been excavating a massive site on the Ose farm near Ørsta, in western Norway. Their work is part of a recovery project before the construction of a massive new housing project in the area. The experts believe that the site was an early Viking era settlement that dates to 1200 years ago, based on the remains of longhouses found there. Traces of an even earlier agricultural settlement were also found.

30 October 2021

Giant Viking Ring Fort

Heritage Daily featured this excellent article on the giant Viking ring fortress built on the north shore of a fjord in Denmark. (Ed.)


 Image Credit : Google Earth 2021


Aggersborg – The Giant Viking Trelleborg

Aggersborg is the site of a Viking trelleborg (ring fort), that was built near Aggersund on the north side of the Limfjord in Denmark.

A trelleborg was a geometrical circular fortification that usually contains a cross section of roads separating four internal quadrants, pointing in the four cardinal directions towards gated entrances.

Trelleborgs were built across numerous sites of strategic importance in areas of Denmark and Sweden, and are mostly attributed to Harold Bluetooth (a King of Denmark and Norway who ruled from AD 958–986), who was attributed with introducing Christianity to Denmark.
Aggersborg is Denmark’s largest trelleborg and dates from the Viking age between AD 970-980 (although archaeologists have also discovered that the fort overlaid an earlier Viking-Age rural settlement consisting of sunken huts connected with a couple of large farms), either during Harold Bluetooth’s reign, or that of his successor Sweyn Forkbeard.

The fort was strategically situated near a narrow passage of the Limfjord, a principal sailing route between the Baltic and the North Sea, and near the ancient Hærvejen trackway.

Image Credit : Frank Vincentz – CC BY-SA 3.0

23 October 2021

When were the Vikings in the Americas?

USA Today featured this article on an amazing discovery made at the Newfoundland, Canada, Viking settlement of L 'Anse aux Meadows.

Scientists have established the exact date of Viking wooden artifacts found at the site. (Ed.)


Reconstruction of a Viking sod church at L 'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada Shutterstock

When were the Vikings in the Americas? Exactly 1,000 years ago, study says

Doyle Rice


October 20, 2021October 20, 20212

Wooden artifacts discovered in Newfoundland, Canada, date precisely to the year 1021.
Scientists are confident the artifacts belonged to the Vikings.
"That level of precision and scientific proof has never been achieved before."

We now know when the Vikings came to America.

Although we knew that Vikings made their way across the Atlantic hundreds of years before Columbus arrived, we weren't sure precisely when that was – until now.

Wooden artifacts discovered in Newfoundland, Canada, date precisely to the year 1021, which is the earliest known record of humans crossing from Europe to America, according to a study published Wednesday in the British journal Nature.

This is "the only known date for Europeans in the Americas before Columbus," archaeologist and study co-author Michael Dee of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands told USA TODAY.

“This is the first time the date has been scientifically established,” archaeologist Margot Kuitems, a researcher at the University of Groningen and the study’s lead author, told NBC News.

“Previously the date was based only on sagas – oral histories that were only written down in the 13th century, at least 200 years after the events they described took place,” she said.

Scientists are confident the wood artifacts belonged to the Vikings, based on their location within the settlement and evidence for modification using metal tools, which were not manufactured by indigenous people in the area at the time.

Read more…