Wednesday, October 05, 2022

10 of the Best Viking Museums in Europe

Image Credit: Tim Graham / Alamy Stock Photo

Get in touch with your inner Norseman and discover the greatest Viking museums across Europe.

The Viking Age is undeniably a fascinating period in history, inspiring countless books, films, television shows and somewhat questionable Halloween costumes. Characters such as Ragnar Lothbrok and Leif Erikson have become household names, while Norse Gods are not only subjects of old legends but modern blockbusters. Viking Museums help shed some light on this period which is often misunderstood, debunking many famous myths while showing a multifaceted view of early medieval Scandinavian life.

Here are ten of the best Viking museums across Europe, ranging from open-air museums where history is re-enacted to Viking ships and buildings that survived the elements.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Rendlesham: 1,400-year-old royal hall unearthed

Volunteers working with Suffolk County Council fully excavated post holes on the east side of the hall

A royal hall of "international importance" that dates back 1,400 years has been unearthed on private land.

The Hall of the first Kings of East Anglia was discovered in Rendlesham, Suffolk, over the summer.

Prof Christopher Scull said it was the "most extensive and materially wealthy settlement of its date known in England".

It was discovered by a community dig as part of Suffolk County Council's Rendlesham Revealed project.

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

DNA From Skeletons Reveals Large Migration to Early Medieval England

Goods from a grave site at Issendorf cemetery in Lower-Saxony, Germany. 
Landesmuseum Hannover

A new study could close a long-standing debate about movement of people post-Roman rule

In the 19th century, archaeologists in England unearthed remains that dated to the era after Roman rule, which ended around 400 C.E. The items revealed a shift from Roman artifacts to those originating in present-day Germany and the Netherlands. In that era, Roman-style tools and pieces of pottery were replaced with northern European jewelry, swords and architecture.

“You can’t deny there was a big shift in material culture—Roman Britain looks very different from the Anglo-Saxon period 200 years later,” Catherine Hills, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge in England, tells Science’s Andrew Curry.

But as for what led to this change, historians have long been divided. Many archaeologists have rejected the idea of a mass migration as the cause. After all, just a small number of migrants could have introduced their culture to the island, writes New Scientist’s Clare Wilson.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How Vikings Influenced the Modern English Language


Knowledgable linguist Rob Watts of RobWords explained how the Old Norse language of the Vikings had a profound effect upon the modern English language with many very important words.

The Vikings raided, pillaged… and changed our language. Their Old Norse words invaded English and many remain to this day

This effect includes gender pronouns (she, he, them), key verbs (to be, to take, to crawl, to guess, to trust), words of violence (slaughter, ransack, club, knife, berserk), clothing words (skirt, shirt, shorts), words with “SK” origins (shabby, scabby, scatter, shatter, ship, skipper), doubled-up words (bathe, bask, ditch, dike, shriek, screech), English place names (Derby, Grimsby, Braithwaite, Langthwaite), Scottish place names (Jura, Lerwick), and surnames (Anderson, Carson, Harrison, MacAskill, MacArthur, MacIvor), and Norse gods (Thor, Tuesday, Wednesday).

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Archaeologists Discover 1,200-Year-Old Shipwreck That Reveals A Lost Age: Report


Archaeologists have recently discovered a shipwreck off the coast of Israel, which is believed to be 1,200 years old. It is believed to be a merchant ship, that suggests trading continued after the Islamic co quest of the Holy Land, according to a report in Express.co.uk.

The shipwreck is dated to the 7th or 8th century AD. The Islamic republic, which had extended its dominance to the eastern Mediterranean area during this period, was trying to overwhelm the Christian Byzantine Empire.

According to the archaeologists, despite the religious tensions in the area, the shipwreck demonstrates that commerce was still thriving since it carried products from all over the Mediterranean, including Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, and the coast of North Africa.

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Genome Study Offers Clues to Anglo-Saxon Migration

(Landesmuseum Hannover)

According to a statement released by the University of Huddersfield, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the University of Central Lancashire, and the University of Huddersfield analyzed the genomes of more than 400 people who lived in Britain, Ireland, German, Denmark, and the Netherlands, and determined that there was a wave of migration from the North Sea region into eastern England during the Anglo-Saxon period, beginning some 1,500 years ago. The study suggests that as much as three quarters of eastern England’s early medieval population had ties to continental European countries bordering the North Sea. And analysis of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only through the maternal line, indicates that women, and likely whole families, had made the trip.

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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers (Online Course)



The University of Oxford online course will run from Wednesday, 28 Sep 2022 to Friday 09 Dec 2022 

You can find further details here...

Reykjavík 871±2


IN 2001, ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS ON Aðalstræti unearthed the remains of a tenth-century longhouse with a wall dating back to 871±2, the oldest evidence of human habitation in Reykjavík.

The year is based on the layer of tephra deposited from a volcanic eruption in the Torfajökull area, which has been found all over Iceland and placed around 871 by carbon dating, with a range of possible inaccuracy of two years either way. The eruption coincides with the early years of Iceland’s settlement age, when the Norsemen started to migrate across the sea, as told by later medieval texts dealing with Icelandic history.

Managed by the City Museum, the Settlement Exhibition of Reykjavík 871±2 gives visitors a rare glimpse into the Viking Age, with the entirety of the excavated ruins displayed in the basement alongside a various collection of artifacts, from pieces of relics to everyday tools. Utilizing interactive multimedia, the exhibit gives an immersive experience and takes visitors back to the days of yore.

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Viking Textiles Show Women Had Tremendous Power


Cloth from Viking and medieval archaeological sites shows that women literally made the money in the North Atlantic

Archaeology has a representation problem. For most of the time that scholars have been probing the human past, they have focused mainly on the activities of men to the exclusion of women. There are a couple reasons for this bias. One is that the kinds of artifacts that tend to preserve well are made of inorganic materials such as stone or metal, and many are associated with behaviors stereotypically linked to men, such as hunting. Another reason is that early archaeologists were mostly men and more interested in men's work than in women's. As a result, our understanding of past cultures is woefully incomplete.

In recent years archaeologists have sought to fill that gap in our knowledge, in part by taking a closer look at traditionally ignored remains such as textiles, which had long been dismissed as trivial. Cloth rarely survives the centuries because it decomposes easily except under ideal preservation conditions. But even in a fragmentary state, it contains a wealth of information about the people who made and used it.

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Early-medieval woman was buried with a rare item: a metal folding chair

The 1,400-year-old iron folding chair was a symbol of power and status in medieval times.
(Image credit: BLfD/Zenger)

Coins, weaponry, jewels and other valuables are often found in the ancient burials of prominent people, but archaeologists recently discovered a truly rare grave good: a metal folding chair.

Constructed of an iron frame, the medieval chair measures approximately 28 by 18 inches (70 by 45 centimeters) when folded and was found by a team of archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection (BLfD) last month in Endsee, a village in southeastern Germany.

Hubert Fehr, an archaeologist with the BLfD, told Live Science that the chair dates to approximately A.D. 600 and that it was associated with the burial of a woman who died in her 40s or 50s.

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Excavation in Seyðisfjörður Unearths Jewelry from Earliest Period of Settlement

Photo: Fjörður – Seyðisfjörður fornleifar – Facebook


Archaeologists in Seyðisfjörður have excavated jewelry that dates from 940 – 1100, just after the initial settlement of Iceland. Notably, one of the beads found in the excavation even bears the colours of the Icelandic national flag.

Remarkably well-preserved structures in Seyðisfjörður

Archaeological digs have been underway in Seyðisfjörður, a fishing village in the East Fjords of Iceland, since 2020. Due to the high slopes of the valley, Seyðisfjörður is subject to land slides, and local authorities plan to build defensive barriers to protect the village, which has suffered damage in recent years. However, these same land slides have also preserved archaeological sites in the region particularly well. Archaeologists have been called in to perform exploratory digs where the defensive barriers will be erected, and have found remarkably intact manmade structures and artifacts such as game pieces and pearls.

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Medieval Artifacts Uncovered in Iceland


SEYðISFJÖRðUR, ICELAND—Traces of a farmstead dated to the earliest settlement of Iceland have been uncovered in the East Fjords of the island by a team of researchers led by archaeologist Ragnheiður Traustadóttir, according to Iceland Review. The site is situated in a valley where landslides from the high slopes and tephra from volcanic eruptions have protected archaeological materials and provided a means of dating them. So far, researchers have found human remains; the bones of a horse; a spear; a boat; and jewelry, including a red, white, and blue bead dated to between A.D. 940 and 1100. To read about a Viking Age site in Iceland's lava fields, go to "The Blackener's Cave."

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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

How Literate Were the Ancient Celts?


The ancient Celts are commonly viewed as primitive barbarians, at least in comparison to the Greeks and the Romans. One of the reasons for this is that they are commonly thought to have been illiterate. However, this is not true. Numerous pieces of Celtic writing have been discovered across Europe. But what type of writing did they use, and where did it come from?

In the ninth century BCE, the alphabet used by the Phoenicians in the Levant was adopted by the Greeks. From the Greeks, it was adopted by the Etruscans and then the Romans in Italy in the seventh century BCE.

In about 600 BCE, the Greeks established a trading colony in the south of Gaul called Massalia, where the modern city of Marseille is now. This was Celtic territory. The Celts occupied almost the entirety of Gaul, as well as parts of Iberia to the west. Thus, with the founding of Massalia, the Greeks and other Mediterranean nations began to build a close trading relationship with the Celts. The Etruscans in particular exerted a strong cultural influence over the Celts by means of trade, especially from the fifth century BCE onwards. This influence was primarily seen in artwork, but it also became evident in writing.

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Vikings Actually Reached the Americas Long Before Columbus

Reconstructed Viking-Age building next to the site of L'Anse aux Meadows.
(Image: Glenn Nagel Photography)

Vikings were active at a Newfoundland settlement nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, research suggests.

On the northernmost tip of the northernmost peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada, is a prehistoric Viking settlement known as L’Anse aux Meadows. The site has been explored by archaeologists since the 1960s, but a firm date for the settlement has proven elusive.

Research published in Nature adds some much-needed clarity to the issue. A team led by archaeologist Michael Dee from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands provides new evidence showing that Vikings were active at L’Anse aux Meadows by 1021 CE — exactly 1,000 years ago. In an email to Gizmodo, Dee said his team’s findings represent the “first, and only, known date for Europeans in the Americas before Columbus,” who crossed the Atlantic in 1492 CE. 

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