30 November 2019

Battle-Scarred Viking Shield-Maiden

There are so many flights of fantasy in this Live Science article that I won't bother to point them out, do it yourself.

Not only is the article a stretch insofar as credibility of results is concerned, the experts not only think she is a Viking warrior, now they think she may have been a general, although Vikings did not have generals.

But hey, it sounds good when you are all holding hands and singing Kumhaya. (Ed.)


First unearthed in 1900, this 1,000-year-old Viking shield-maiden was apparently cut down in her prime. 

This facial reconstruction of a Viking woman's skull shows a deep head wound, possibly sustained during battle.
(Image: © National Geographic)
When the sword came down upon her head, the blade cut her to the bone. Scientists studying the Viking woman's fractured skull 1,000 years later still aren't sure whether the blow actually killed her — however, the trove of weapons buried with her make it clear that she died a warrior nonetheless.

That Viking, who lived and died around the year 900, was first excavated from a farm in Solør, Norway, in 1900. Her head rested on a shield, a bridled horse skeleton lay curled at her feet, and her body was boxed in by a sword, spear, battle-ax and arrows. When a quick analysis revealed the skeleton to be female, it was immediately interpreted as the first physical example of a shield-maiden — a mythical female warrior only referenced in medieval texts before then. 

Now, for the first time, researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland have used facial reconstruction technology to re-create that maiden's appearance — including the wound that may have ended her career.

23 November 2019

Huge Hoard of Viking Sword Parts Found in Estonia

The author did a rather poor job of reporting what has been found in Estonia, so I'll try to fill in the blanks. The "fragments" as he calls them are obviously castings for a part of at least the three pieces that make up the pommel of any sword. The hole through the parts seen in the lower two photos is to accommodate the tang of the sword blade.

The photo portrays what looks like two pommel ends that cap the top of the sword pommel. Presumably there were also crossbars which form the bottom of the pommel to protect the hand of the user from his sword blade also among the "fragments," but that is not stated in the article, so draw your own conclusions.

It is further stated that these "fragments" are funerary in nature, which is a real stretch given the amount of effort required to cast them as well the expenditure of valuable metals whether the metals were steel or bronze. From the slight  greenish tinge of the castings I would say the metal used was bronze.

What we have here is an article by an author, and statements made by "experts" who know little or nothing about swords. What they found in Estonia would seem to be a site where sword pommel parts were produced for the Norse weapons industry. (Ed.)


2 OCTOBER, 2019 - 18:17 ED WHELAN
Huge Hoard of Viking Sword Parts Found in Estonia

Some of the hilts bear Viking era designs. ( Estonia Dept for the Protection of Antiquities / ERR)
Archaeologists have uncovered the fragments of about a hundred swords that once belonged to Viking warriors . They were unearthed in the Baltic country of Estonia. The experts believe that the fragments were once part of weapons used as grave markers or funerary monuments for warriors.

The fragments were uncovered in two separate although neighboring locations, near the coast in Northern Estonia. ERR reports that Mauri Kiudsoo, an archaeologist and archivist from Tallinn University, stated that the “two sites were located just 80 meters apart”. “The fragments were found in the territory of the ancient Estonian county of Ravala, late last autumn” according to ERR. This is not far from the capital of Tallinn.
Viking-era burial monument

In the two finds were found several dozen fragments from swords and also a collection of spearheads. Researchers have established that the artifacts were of a type used by the Vikings. Archaeology.org reports that they have been dated to “the middle of the tenth century AD”. Some sword hilts were recovered, and they have Viking era design motifs.


17 November 2019

Found: An Elaborate Viking Graveyard at the End of a Fjord

From Atlas Obscura comes this article on another great find that is important to our understanding of things medieval.

This time it is a Viking Age graveyard discovered at the end of a Norwegian fjord that contained several grave mounds from which archaeologists have dug a plethora of valuable artifacts for further study.

Finally, in an attempt to put to rest the commonly held contemporary belief that these medieval people buried their important dead in boats and ships, the statement is made that such practices never happened. No such ship or boat burials have ever been found in Scandinavia according to the lead archaeologist onsite.

Personally, I wouldn’t make such a broad statement. Although there have been few such finds, they do exist. What about the Gokstad, Oseberg, and Tune ships, to name a few off the top of my head? These ships and what they contained still amaze those who have studied them.

Perhaps the lead archaeologist skipped classes on the day those ship burials were discussed. (Ed.) 


The Viking graveyard, with the modern town of Vinjeøra and Vinje Fjord in the background.

They buried people, boats, and even a house.

OCTOBER 1, 2019

NORWAY IS RIFE WITH FJORDS—DEEP, canyon-like inlets carved by glaciers that add some 10,000 miles to the country’s convoluted coastline—and at one time those fjords were rife with Vikings. Vikings settled many of these sheltered waterways, and some of those places evolved into modern towns and cities such as Eidfjord, Stavanger, and Trondheim, once the capital of the Viking world. Since many Vikings lived along fjords, it stands to reason many of them died there, too. Now, about 50 miles west of Trondheim, at the end of the Vinje Fjord, archaeologists have found a large Viking cemetery with the remains of at least 20 burial mounds, among them one special one—what was once a mound covering a house containing a burial. So much for the old vision of a Viking funeral ship set ablaze and sent out to sea.

“We have no evidence for waterborne Viking funeral pyres in Scandinavia. I honestly do not know where this conception derives from, and it should be regarded as a modern myth,” says Raymoud Sauvage of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the lead archaeologist on the site. “Normal burial practice was that people were buried on land, in burial mounds.”

The graveyard is in the modern town of Vinjeøra, abutting a Viking-era farm, and it also boasts several boat burials, in which the deceased were interred inside wooden vessels. (Perhaps these land-based boat burials and separate evidence of land-based funeral pyres had something to do with the old Viking funeral myth.) The site was identified during surveys in advance of the expansion of a local highway. The mounds themselves, and the grave in the house, had long been sheared off by centuries of farming and plowing, but the remains of a ditch around the house make it clear that there was once a mound on top of it.

09 November 2019

1,100-year-old Viking treasure reveals its secrets

Here's some of the latest information from Fox News, on what researchers have gleaned from the spectacular Viking treasure hoard from Scotland. (Ed.)


Runic inscriptions on a silver arm-ring from the "Galloway Hoard" have been deciphered. (National Museums Scotland)
Published October 2

Experts are unlocking the secrets of a mysterious Viking treasure trove that was discovered in Scotland.

The “Galloway Hoard” was found by a man using a metal detector in 2014. It was acquired by National Museums Scotland in 2017, which describes the trove as “the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland.”

The hoard was buried 1,100 years ago and consists of more than 100 gold and silver items.

Runic inscriptions on a number of silver arm rings have now been deciphered by David Parsons of the University of Wales. “Five of the silver arm-rings have runic inscriptions scratched into them which may have functioned as labels identifying distinct portions of the hoard, perhaps recording the names of the people who owned and buried them,” he said in a statement emailed to Fox News. “While several of the texts are abbreviated and uncertain, one is splendidly clear: it reads Ecgbeorht, Egbert, a common and thoroughly Anglo-Saxon man’s name.”

The discovery sheds new light on the mysterious treasure trove. “The Galloway ‘Viking’ Hoard may have been deposited by a people who, to judge by name and choice of script, may have considered themselves part of the English-speaking world,” Parsons added. “It is even possible that these were locals.”

03 November 2019

An Abnormal Viking Mausoleum Shows Ship Burials Weren’t for Everyone!

Ancient Origins came through again to keep us informed about what is happening in the world of medieval Viking archaeology with this interesting article about an important find facilitated by aerial photography. (Ed.)


26 SEPTEMBER, 2019 - 19:35 ED WHELAN

An Abnormal Viking Mausoleum Shows Ship Burials Weren’t for Everyone!

Archaeologists have found a Viking burial house in central Norway. It was located in an area which is revealing many archaeological treasures, including a Roman-era bronze cauldron. The mausoleum is helping researchers better understand Viking burial practices and their evolution.

Archaeologists, from NTNU Science Museum, made the significant find near the central Norwegian city of Trondheim. They are working on two sites in the area. This work is being completed prior to “the construction of the new E6 highway south of Trondheim,” according to Phys.org.

The mausoleum, or burial house, was found during work at Vinjeøra, which is an area where Viking farms and burial mounds have been identified in previous surveys.

From above, the imprint of the house and ditch are clearly visible. ( Raymond Sauvage, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet ) Aerial Photography
Local archaeologists have long known that there was a Viking-era settlement in the area, but it was hard to investigate because intensive agriculture down the years destroyed many of the remains.

Experts from NTNU decided to use aerial photography to examine the site.
In one of the aerial shots, they found something unusual in a burial mound. They saw the outline of a ditch that was rectangular in shape. The experts determined that “this is an imprint of a building, and not a boat or a ship that was typical of burials” (from the Viking era), reports Life in Norway.