Wednesday, September 20, 2023



Excavations have found five tiny pieces of rectangular sheet gold decorated with motifs and stamped imagery depicting a man and a woman. The objects were discovered in the remains of a pagan temple, where previous excavations have uncovered thirty similar stamped gold objects in the vicinity over the past three decades.

The building measures around fifteen metres in length and was likely used for ritual drinking, however, it is unlikely that any feasting took place due to the lack of domestic archaeological evidence.

The latest objects were found beneath the structure in the wall runs and in adjacent postholes, suggesting that they were ritually placed as votive offerings in the form of a sacrifice or a religious act to protect the building before it was constructed.

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1400-year-old gold foil figures found in pagan temple

Archaeologists have discovered a votive gold hoard during road development works in Vingrom, south of Lillehammer on the shores of Lake Mjøsa Norway.

The 5 gold pieces are tiny, about the size of a fingernail. They are flat and thin as paper, often square, and stamped with a motif. Usually, they depict a man and a woman in various types of clothing, jewelry, and hairstyles.

The objects were discovered in the remains of a pagan temple, where previous excavations have uncovered thirty similar stamped gold objects in the vicinity over the past three decades.

Archaeologist Kathrine Stene was the project leader for the excavation, which has been ongoing along the road here all summer and into autumn, due to the upgrade of the E6 highway between Mjøsa Bridge and Lillehammer.

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Untouched 1,300-Year-Old Grave Of Merovingian Warrior With Complete Armor Found In Ingelheim, Germany

The grave of a Merovingian warrior richly equipped with swords, knives, spears, and a shield.
Credit: Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim

Jan Bartek - - An intriguing 1,300-year-old grave belonging to a Merovingian warrior has been discovered during an archaeological survey of an early Medieval cemetery in Ingelheim, Germany.

It is an exceptional and surprising find because the grave remains intact despite being between two looted graves. Somehow, looters must have missed this one. When archaeologists opened the grave, they found the remains of a Frankish warrior from the 7th century with complete armor.

Excavations at the site have been carried out by the Kaiserpfalz research team since 2015; this year is the last season. Numerous graves were already plundered in the Middle Ages, so finding an untouched burial as old as this one was naturally a wonderful surprise to all involved in the project.

According to a press statement issued by Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim, Merovingian graves on Rotweinstraße can usually be easily recognized by the darker filling of the burial pit. In this case, no color change was evident, and the entire area was heavily disturbed by adjacent graves and difficult to interpret.

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The warrior's grave was found at an early medieval cemetery in the German town of Ingelheim, which was later the site of one of Charlemagne's palaces.
(Image credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim)

Archaeologists in Germany have discovered the grave of a Frankish warrior who was buried with his weapons and shield more than 1,300 years ago.

The weapons include a spatha, a long sword based on cavalry swords of the late Roman Empire.

The deceased appears to be a man who died between the ages of 30 and 40, probably in the seventh century, the archaeologists found.

The warrior was also buried with a short sword for slashing, called a seax, with an iron blade and a bronze handle; a heavy iron knife; and a spear, of which only the iron point survived. The remains of a shield made mainly of wood were also found; only the metal "boss" at the center survived.

The team found the grave in June during a dig at an early medieval cemetery that archaeologists have been excavating since March. The site is in the town of Ingelheim, which lies beside the Rhine River and about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Frankfurt.

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Friday, September 01, 2023

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

The 2013 Michaelmas Term of the University of Oxford online course “Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers” will begin on Wednesday, 27 September.

You can find further details of this course here…

What Viking Funerary Flatbread Teaches Archeologists About Ancient Baking

When most people think of the Vikings, they probably envision what the Vikings did way before picturing what they ate. But if food is fuel, then it's safe to say that the nomadic and infamously chaotic lifestyle of the Vikings needed lots of it. Most of what culinary archaeologists know about the Viking diet has been compiled from a combination of dig sites, the foods eaten by heroes in Norse sagas, and even a limited selection of ancient cookbooks. The Vikings as a people left behind precious few records and accounts. But one momentous archeological dig site uncovered a historical gem: Viking Funerary flatbread.

The loaves were uncovered in graves at Birka — a large, formerly hopping Viking trading post near Stockholm — earning this flatbread the name "Birka bread". Miraculously, the loaves were charred and therefore remained preserved through time. Whether the loaves were intentionally charred as a culinary choice or if they were burned in funeral pyres remains unclear.

The flatbread loaves found at Birka were made from a simple combination of salt, eggs, and flour, specifically barley and wheat. Other types of Viking bread used oats or spelt flour. For closest replication, curious home cooks should make their Birka bread over a campfire. But today's foodies don't value the loaves just for their recipe; the bread tells a much larger story than the sum of its parts.

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Monday, August 28, 2023

The Norse and the Sea: the Maritime Cultural Landscape of Scandinavian Scotland

The Norse and the Sea: the Maritime Cultural Landscape of Scandinavian Scotland
Paper by Alex Sanmark and Shane McLeod

Given at the Archaeological Research in Progress Conference 2023 of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on May 27, 2023

Abstract: This paper presents early results of the ongoing research project The Norse and the Sea with particular emphasis on the fieldwork carried out on the Isle of Eigg in September 2022. The project investigates the maritime cultural landscape in Scandinavian Scotland (c. AD 790-1350), through an interdisciplinary approach using archaeological, written and toponymic evidence and address the overarching questions of connectivity and communication in Norse Scotland.

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Vikings Were in America Before Columbus, Study Claims

Vikings from Greenland were living in North America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, according to a recent study.. Credit: Helgi Halldórsson, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikipedia

Vikings from Greenland were living in North America’s Newfoundland 1,000 years ago according to evidence from a recent study.

Newfoundland is located in Maritime Canada. Scientists have suspected for years that Vikings had settled in the area, but had not been able to assign a precise date to this encampment until now.

The authors of the research were able to trace the Vikings to trees they had cut down in order to build their shelter in Newfoundland. The trees indicate that the settlers were in the area as early as 1021 — 470 years before Christopher Columbus had arrived on the continent, and exactly one millennium ago.

“This is the first time the date has been scientifically established,” said archaeologist Margot Kuitems, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who also led the study.

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Reconstructed Roman Gateway Tells The Story Of Britain’s Invasion

Richborough Roman Fort with the newly reconstructed gateway. Courtesy of English Heritage

The soil from these ditches would have been mounded up to create an earth rampart. These would have been a formidable defensive obstacle and typical of Roman military engineering of the first century AD.

Roman military defences normally enclosed a rectangular area for a camp or fort. The Richborough defences are odd in that they do not do that, but instead cut off a long stretch of land along the shore on the eastern side of the site.

Their full length to the north and south is unknown and much land to their east has undoubtedly been lost to erosion and the construction of the railway.

What was the purpose of the gateway and defences?
The defences look to be designed to secure a length of shoreline, leading historians to suggest that they were temporary defences for a beachhead.

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Teeth Can Preserve The Signal of Pathogens For Hundreds of Years, Study Finds

(Henry Horenstein/The Image Bank/Getty Images)

An analysis of antibodies extracted from 800-year-old teeth has provided a new way to identify pathogens our ancestors contended with.

The process could potentially help us understand how human antibodies – proteins naturally produced by our bodies in self-defense – have developed through history.

Building on previous research, a team led by researchers from the University of Nottingham and University College London (UCL) in the UK conducted a process called affinity purification to identify molecules through the way they bind to other molecules.

These kinds of bindings are a crucial part of how the human immune system works, and they can help researchers retroactively identify antibodies and what they were designed to fight against.

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Friday, August 18, 2023

International Medieval Congress 2024

The Viking Society is proposing to organise sessions at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in 2024. The dates of the Conference are 1-4 July. N.B. Participation is not limited to Viking Society members.

You can find further details here...

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Strange burial of 9th-century teenager reveals tragic story

English archaeologists have announced the discovery of the remains of a teenage girl buried in the Early Middle Ages. The circumstances of her burial were very unusual, suggesting she may have led a tragic life.

In ninth-century Cambridgeshire, as a community prepared to abandon their settlement, they took down the elaborate entrance gate and replaced it with a grave. In it were the remains of a young woman, aged just 15, buried face down in a pit and perhaps with her ankles bound together. This unusual grave gives us insight into a rare Early Medieval burial practice, and perhaps even contemporary attitudes towards those within the community who were considered different.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

More secrets of mystery Norman castle uncovered

Students from Manchester and Cardiff have been taking part in the Snodhill Castle dig

Marks left by stone masons and the remains of a hidden gate were found at Snodhill Castle in Herefordshire.

Tim Hoverd, the council's archaeology projects manager said the finds gave an idea of the cost and strength of the Norman castle.

The dig was at the site of chapel inside the castle and the finds suggested a substantial building, more on a par with a small church, he said.

Mr Hoverd said: "We should be able to trace who these masons were and when they were working in the county or nearby."

The trust which runs the castle has previously said it5 believes it has found the site of a Royal Free Chapel, a church belonging directly to a monarch.

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The Byzantine General Who Challenged the Emperor

Byzantine general George Maniakes who chalenged emperor Michael IV, leads a cavalry charge against the Arabs. Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

After the tremendously successful reign of Basil II, the eleventh century signaled a turn of fortunes in a far more negative direction for the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, marked by military defeats and decline.

However, George Maniakes, a Byzantine general, stood as an exception in this rather depressing era for the Byzantine Empire. Maniakes stood quite literally as a giant on the battlefield owing to his imposing stature, but he was also a supremely capable tactician and commander.

The historian John Julius Norwich described Maniakes as “the glorious, tempestuous, ill-starred” preeminent Byzantine general of his age.

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Zahnanalyse ermöglicht neue Erkenntnisse zur Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Südwestdeutschland von der Steinzeit bis zur Eisenzeit

Bestattungen des Endneolithikums und der Frühbronzezeit, wie dieses vor wenigen Jahren in Heilbronn entdeckte Hockergrab der Schnurkeramik, standen im Fokus der Biodistanzanalysen.
Bild: © Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart

Das Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und die Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen haben eine neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse getestet, um umfassendere Einblicke in die Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie konzentriert sich auf die Untersuchung von Zähnen in menschlichen Bestattungen.

Mit der neuen Analysemethode namens FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede zwischen Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. Diese Merkmale, wie beispielsweise die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen, sind vererbbar und liefern Aufschluss über die Biodistanz, also die Ähnlichkeit zwischen Individuen. Die Analyse der Zähne kann somit mit genetischen Untersuchungen verglichen werden.

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Neue Erkenntnisse zur Populationsgeschichte des dritten bis ersten Jahrtausends v. Chr. in Südwestdeutschland

Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Senckenberg und Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen testen neue Methode zur menschlichen Zahnanalyse

11.07.23 Pressemitteilungen

Pressemitteilung Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart

Einem Team von Forscherinnen und Forschern vom Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (SHEP), der Arbeitsgruppe Paläoanthropologie an der Universität Tübingen und des Landesamts für Denkmalpflege (LAD) im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart ist es mit Hilfe einer neuen Analysemethode erstmals gelungen, umfassendere Einblicke in die menschliche Populationsgeschichte Südwestdeutschlands von der ausgehenden Steinzeit bis zur frühen Eisenzeit zu gewinnen. Die Studie gründet auf der Untersuchung von Zähnen menschlicher Bestattungen.

Mit der neuen Analysemethode FLEXDIST können genetisch bedingte Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede der Individuen anhand spezifischer Zahnmerkmale ermittelt werden. „Möglich wird dies, da jeder Zahn unterschiedliche morphologische Merkmale wie etwa die Anzahl und Größe der Höcker von Backenzähnen aufweist“, erläuterte Stephanie Lismann (Universität Tübingen), Zweitautorin der Studie. „Sie sind vererbbar und können Aufschlüsse zur Biodistanz liefern, also wie ähnlich Individuen zueinander sind. Die Analyse dieser Zähne ist mit genetischen Untersuchungen vergleichbar“, so Lismann.

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Earliest glass workshop north of the Alps discovered

Credit: Antiquity (2023). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2023.80

After 20 years of above-ground surveys, archaeologists have excavated the famous Iron Age site of Němčice and confirmed the presence of the earliest glass workshop north of the Alps.

Němčice is one of the most important settlement sites of the La Tène Period (3rd–2nd century BC) in Central Europe, famous for its unprecedented amount of gold and silver coins which number over 2,000.

Numerous beautiful glass bracelets and beads have also been found at the site. As such, it was thought that Němčice was a center of glass production, but only these excavations have confirmed this fact.

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Boris Johnson's swimming pool plans on hold as councillors demand archaeological dig

Boris Johnson running near his home in Brightwell-cum-Stowell
 (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Parish councillors are calling for archaeologists to excavate land around Boris Johnson's Oxfordshire mansion – as its five-acre grounds are believed to have been the site of a 12th-century siege castle

His political career collapsed spectacularly when so many of his blunders were unearthed.

So Boris Johnson could be forgiven for not wanting the past to be dug up yet again.

But parish councillors are calling for archaeologists to excavate land around his Oxfordshire village mansion – as its five-acre grounds are believed to have been the site of a 12th-century siege castle.

They acted after studying his plans for a 36ft swimming pool at the £3.8million pile.

An official objection was raised at a meeting last week.

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Friday, July 21, 2023

Viking House The Size Of Two Tennis Courts Discovered In Norway

It was in this rural field it once all went down, from the Bronze Age to around the 18th century. Thanks to discoveries made by metal detectorists, even more traces of the historical power centre at Sem in Norway have now been uncovered.
(Photo: Fylkeskommune / Frank Rødberg)

Archaeologists in Norway report they have discovered what seems to be a massive Viking house that has the length of almost two tennis courts.

The discovery was made when scientists excavated at an ancient royal estate site where they also unearthed an exquisite sword and many remnants of lavish parties.

“A finely ornamented handle for a knife or fork was found here during a metal search a few years ago,” says Christian Løchsen Rødsrud, the leader of the nearly three-month-long excavation at Sem in Eiker this summer.

The knife or fork is associated with King Christian IV, who was the king of Denmark and Norway from 1588 to 1648. He stayed at the royal estate at Sem several times.

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Sunday, July 16, 2023

Unique Female Viking Grave In Swedish Mountains Reveals Its Secrets

Archaeologists have found a rare female Viking grave in the Swedish mountains.
Credit: Adobe Stock - Fotokvadrat

"My first thought was that I had found a mine, but then when I had dug around, I understood that it can't be, Nyström told TT.

Nyström took the brooch home and asked around, but no one knew what it was or where it came from. One year later, he came in contact with the museum Jamtli in the city of  Östersund and understood the archaeological and historical value of the brooch he had found.

At the site in Jämtland, Anders Hansson, chief archaeologist at Jamtli, also found another oval brooch which is not much of a surprise because such pins are usually unearthed in pairs.

"What has been established is that it is a cremation grave from the Viking Age and "most likely" a woman's grave, Hansson says. Previously, only five other Viking graves have been found in the mountains, and all have belonged to men.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Norwegian couple found a Viking Age Grave And Sword in their garden

While trying to expand their home, a Norwegian couple found a Viking Age grave and sword in their garden.

It’s not always necessary to travel far to make a remarkable archeological find, but few of us anticipate discovering something of historical significance in our homes. However, this rather strange scenario does occur on occasion. A Norwegian couple was expanding their home when they noticed something strange sticking up from the ground. Sword-like in appearance, and it was exactly that.

Oddbjørn Holum Heiland and his wife Anne were digging behind the Setesdalshouse from 1740, which they wish to extend on June 30.

“I wasn’t going to dig a lot, just a little bit in the slope behind the house, to get some more space between the house and the land,” Heiland told to Science in Norway from Setesdal in Southern Norway.

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Thursday, July 06, 2023

Archaeology A Norwegian Dad Hiking With His Family Discovered a Rock Face Covered With Bronze Age Paintings

It's the first time this type of painting has been found regionally.

A man on a hike with his family in the countryside outside of Oslo, Norway, has stumbled across a rock face covered in Bronze Age paintings.

The discovery did not, however, come as a complete surprise to Tormod Fjeld, a graphic designer and devoted amateur archaeologist who has hunted down more than 500 petroglyphs with friends in recent years.

And so, when Fjeld spotted a nearby boulder with unusual coloration while taking a break from hiking, he was ready. Fjeld pulled out his phone, took a picture, and then plugged it into an app that could clarify if the markings were natural pigments, such as iron deposits, or something altogether more interesting.

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Ancient Scandinavians wrote encrypted messages in runes 1500 years ago

The Ellestad stone, inscribed between AD 500 and 700, appears to include encrypted runes
Unknown/Creative Commons

People living in Scandinavia may have written encrypted messages in runes – the alphabet later used by the Vikings – several centuries earlier than previously thought.

In runic writing systems, each rune can represent both a sound and a word. For example, in an early runic system called the Elder Futhark, the rune that corresponds to the letter S also means “sun”.

It is generally possible to translate runes into modern languages. But we have long known that in the Viking period, starting in roughly AD 800, runes were sometimes encrypted, so the text isn’t decipherable. One of the most famous examples is the Rök runestone in Sweden, which was erected in the late 800s and contains a lengthy, encrypted runic text. No one has been able to convincingly decipher it.

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Pictish Symbols Explained: 14 Pictish stones in Scotland and the meaning of their symbols

Over two hundred Pictish stones are scattered across Scotland with curious symbols that archaeologists and historians have studied for years, here’s what we know about them.

The Picts are famous for erecting majestic standing stones that feature enigmatic symbols. While located across many regions of Scotland, we know areas like Aberdeenshire acted as one of the chief heartlands for northern Picts and this heritage is reflected even in the modern place names used today.

The Picts’ expertly carved symbol stones, according to scholars, may have served as territorial markers, represented Pictish names and ranks, or recorded marriage treaties. Pictish symbols are divided into three groups; Animal, Geometric and Everyday Object symbols, they usually occur in pairs and there are roughly 50 documented symbols.

Some historians suggest that the symbols predate their existence on stones and may have been used for tattoos as was typical with Pictish tribes. Ultimately, our knowledge of Pictish culture is limited to modern scholars’ interpretation, so here are 14 Pictish stone symbols and their meaning according to them.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Norn Language: Scotland’s mysterious Viking tongue that can be found in modern Scots

Dubbed the “sixth Scandinavian language” Norn was spoken by Scots for centuries prior to its extinction, but echoes of this past can still be heard as remnants of the Viking tongue exist in modern Scottish words.

Broadly speaking, Etymologists divide Scandinavian languages into two historical branches; Western and Eastern. Danish and Swedish account for the Eastern examples while the Western includes Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese.

Just as Iceland and the Faroe Islands were largely settled by Norwegian Vikings, regions of Scotland like the Shetland Islands also underwent this Norse invasion which led to the birth of another Western Scandinavian language; Norn.

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Monday, June 26, 2023

How to Make a Viking Warrior?

"Making a Warrior: the Social Implications of Viking Age Martial Ideologies” is the title of a new research project, which was recently granted substantial funding from Nordforsk. Partners are the Universities in Oslo, Copenhagen, Uppsala, and Reykjavik.

Archaeologist Marianne Moen, who has also recently taken over the position as Head of Department of Archaeology at the Museum of Cultural History, will be the project manager for the upcoming research project “Making a Warrior: the Social Implications of Viking Age Martial Ideologies” that is starting up in the fall of 2023.

– The Viking Age often evokes associations with violence and war, with images of tough men enacting scenarios of violence and war. At the same time, we know that the truth was much more complex. This project is based on the premise that Viking warriors were not a uniform group of people, and that warrior ideals moreover had socio-political and ritual aspects that were as important as the actual war and violence in itself, she tells us.

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

Wild Cattle in Britain – Descendants of Viking Cattle?

Also known as the Chillingham Cattle, Britain is home to four flocks of White Cattle living in the wild since the 12th century.

The fierce and shy wild cattle living in the park at Chillingham is but one flock of four roaming at Woburn, Dynevor, and Cadzow. Earlier on, such herds were a common feature in the British landscape, probably kept for their ornamental and symbolic value. Known in the 12th century as Tauri Sylvestres, they have apparently always been considered a wild sub-species. The herd at Chillingham, though, was first mentioned in 1645. Today, about 130 animals live in the 150-ha large park in Northumberland. The herd is protected from being earmarked, a true sign of their “wild” status.

These flocks of wild cattle were treated as a kind of super-deer eaten on festive occasions, such as at the Archbishop of York installation feast in 1466. At the celebrations, six wild bulls were roasted and served. It appears the white cattle survived as potent medieval status symbols alongside other wild species. Evidence from Auckland Castle indicates a herd of White Cattle was kept in the 15th-century deer park for ornamental reasons together with wild horses.

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Thursday, June 22, 2023

Viking artefact unearthed by metal detectorist to be sold at auction

The bronze artefact, called a die, would have been used to create decorative motifs to be applied to a military helmet (Jason Jones/PA)

A metal detectorist has unearthed a Viking artefact that was used to craft decorative motifs for military helmets.

Jason Jones, 44, of Norwich, made the find while searching a field near Watton in Norfolk in January this year, having previously found two medieval silver coins there.

The construction industry worker, who was with his wife Lisa, said he had forgotten to charge his main detector and was using his backup machine.

“I returned to the area where the coins were found and got a loud signal, and at a depth of just two inches found an unusual bronze object,” he said.

“Lisa came over and was speechless when she saw it.

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Viking artefact unearthed by metal detectorist in Norfolk field could fetch £24,000 at auction

Jason Jones, 44, with his wife and daughter, found a Viking artefact in a field in Norfolk.
Credit: Jason Jones / PA / Noonans auctioneers

A Viking artefact unearthed by a metal detectorist in Norfolk could fetch up £24,000 at auction.

Jason Jones, 44, of Norwich, made the find while searching a field near Watton in Norfolk in January this year, having previously found two medieval silver coins there.

The construction industry worker, who was with his wife Lisa, said he had forgotten to charge his main detector and was using his backup machine.

“I returned to the area where the coins were found and got a loud signal, and at a depth of just two inches found an unusual bronze object,” he said.

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Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old ‘Stonehenge of the Netherlands’

The Tiel sanctuary featured a solar calendar that was used to determine important events including festivals and harvest days, say archaeologists.
Photograph: Municipality of Tiel/Reuters

Dutch archaeologists have unearthed an approximately 4,000-year-old religious site – nicknamed the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands” – that includes a burial mound that served as a solar calendar.

The mound, which contained the remains of about 60 men, women and children, had several passages through which the sun shone directly on the longest and shortest days of the year.

The town of Tiel, where the site was discovered, said on its Facebook page: “What a spectacular archaeological discovery! Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old religious sanctuary on an industrial site.”

It added: “This is the first time a site like this has been discovered in the Netherlands.”

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‘It stands over us like a giant’s dining table’: on the trail of the UK’s ancient stones

One of Cornwall’s most recognisable megaliths … Lanyon Quoit. Photograph: Alamy

No longer just for solstice, a new type of tourism means these mysterious formations are being visited year round. Our writer joins a stone hunt on the Cornish moors.

Up on Cornwall’s Penwith Moors time takes a strange quality. Here the landscape is a morass of knotted bracken and bristly gorse, a soft marigold tinge signalling warmer summer days. A grey smudge of cloud sags on the horizon and the wind whirs like white noise, a low and disorientating murmur. The topography is a palimpsest, with working farms etched over ruinous mines and prehistoric settlements. And at its heart is a scattering of ancient stones, the enigmatic quoits, barrows and stone circles that have captivated and confounded societies for millennia.

It’s an enchanting place just to wander, but to help me dive deeper into the mysteries of the moors, I am meeting artists and stone enthusiasts Lally MacBeth and Matthew Shaw. Almost immediately I feel underdressed in hiking boots primed with mud and a hardy waterproof – in Cornwall, we come perpetually prepared for the threat of showers. MacBeth, on the other hand, looks the part of an antiquarian in an emerald-green blazer and matching beret finished with a swipe of ruby lipstick. The only muted part of her outfit is a monochrome badge, the size of a small pebble, that reads: “The Stone Club”.

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A Couple Renovating Their Kitchen in Denmark Found an Ancient Stone Carved With Viking Runes

An ancient stone was discovered under the kitchen floor in a home in Denmark.
Photo Lene Brandt, courtesy National Museum of Denmark.

When Lene Brandt and her husband, Anders Nielsen, were preparing to tear up the linoleum floors in the kitchen in their home in the village of Mosekær, in Denmark, they probably expected the normal things that occur in the course of such a project: cost overruns, delays, and problems with contractors.

Instead, what they found was an ancient artifact. The couple stumbled across a nearly 2,000-pound stone, measuring more than six feet long, carved with ancient runes. The couple contacted local experts at the Museum Østjylland. Staff archaeologist Benita Clemmensen is quoted by the cultural news site Skjalden saying that these stones are the sole written records of the Viking Age. 

Five runes can be found carved into the stone’s surface, reading “aft Bi,” which can be translated as “after B.” 

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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Game piece with runic inscription found in Trondheim

A round soapstone game piece discovered in an archaeological survey in advance of sewer pipe repair in Trondheim, Norway, is inscribed with runes. This is only the second known game piece with a runic inscription ever discovered in Norway.

The excavation uncovered a sunken pit with archaeological layers dating to the Middle Ages. The deepest part of the pit, more than 12 feet below today’s street surface, has been dated to between 1000 and 1150 A.D. A coal layer above it was only slightly more recent, dating to 1030-1180 A.D. The soapstone game piece was found between the two layers.

Archaeologists first thought the lines incised on the round piece’s surface could be stylized floral motifs, but the geometry was also reminiscent of runic inscriptions albeit laid out in artistic fashion.

The team sent high-resolution images of the piece to runologist Karen Langsholt Holmqvist. She was so intrigued she was compelled to view the object in person. That’s when she conclusively identified the decoration as runic writing.

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“Ipswich ware” pottery made for the first time in over 1,000 years

“Ipswich ware” jars and pots, first made 1,400 years ago in the English town, are being fired again in a replica Anglo-Saxon kiln thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This new experimental archaeology project is being led by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, to investigate how Anglo-Saxon pottery was once made in Ipswich. The new kiln has been built and fired by studying archaeological remains excavated from the Buttermarket in Ipswich, something never attempted before. Only two kilns have ever been excavated in Ipswich, the other was discovered at Stoke Quay.

Ipswich ware pottery was made in the town from c. AD 680-870. Jars, cooking pots and pitchers were the most commonly-made items, simple in design and grey in colour. They were mass-produced and distributed throughout eastern England, and were some of the first of their kind in post-Roman Britain.

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What did the Vikings eat?

Serra is a culinary archaeologist recreating long-lost Viking recipes (Credit: Maddy Savage)

While the word "Viking" is often used to describe anyone who lived during the Viking era, Serra explained that it should technically only refer to the pirates and pillagers who travelled across northern Europe between the 8th and 11th Centuries. He said that most people during this period weren't bloodthirsty invaders, but worked as farmers, fishermen, crafters or traders, and he's made it his life's mission to research and recreate the kind of dishes that dominated their everyday diets. 

"I like to eat, and I like to eat good food, so I was curious: what did [the Vikings] eat?" said Serra, who initially studied the food of ancient Rome as an archaeology student by recreating dishes from the 1st- to 5th-Century cookbook De Re Coquinaria. He then reconstructed, cooked and tasted his way from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages before focusing on the Viking era during his graduate studies. Today, having established that Vikings were much more farm-to-table locavores than meat-loving hunter gatherers, Serra is now considered one of Scandinavia's leading authorities on the culinary practices of the Vikings. 

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Stone Carved With Viking Ship May Be Oldest Picture Ever Found in Iceland

Photo: Landnámsskáli í Stöð / Facebook

Archaeologists in Iceland have found a sandstone carved with a Viking ship that may be the oldest picture ever found in the country. The stone was found at the archaeological site Stöð in East Iceland in a longhouse that is believed to predate the permanent settlement of the island. RÚV reported first.

Richest longhouse ever excavated in Iceland
The first exploratory digs at Stöð were made in 2015 and archaeologists have returned every summer since to continue excavating the site, where they first focused their efforts on a settlement-era longhouse.  “The longhouse is among the largest found in Iceland, 31.4m [103ft] long. In Scandinavia, only chieftains’ farms had longhouses larger than 28m [92ft]. It is also the richest longhouse ever excavated in Iceland. We have found 92 beads and 29 silver objects, including Roman and Middle Eastern coins,” Bjarni F. Einarsson told Iceland Review for a 2020 article on the archeological site.

Oldest building predates settlement
What makes the site still more significant is that archaeologists discovered an even older longhouse underneath the settlement-era longhouse, estimated to date back to around 800 AD, some 75 years before the permanent settlement of Iceland. The most striking feature of the older structure is the conspicuous absence of the bones of domesticated animals. “My theory is that the older longhouse was a seasonal hunting camp, operated by a Norwegian chief who outfitted voyages to Iceland to gather valuables and bring them back across the sea to Norway,” Bjarni told Iceland Review. One of these valuables may have been walrus ivory: in 2019, DNA analyses and radiocarbon dating confirmed that Iceland was previously inhabited by a North Atlantic subspecies of walrus, now extinct.

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Ipswich Anglo-Saxon pottery created in replica kiln in Tunstall, near Woodbridge

Teams in Tunstall have been recreating 1,400 year-old Anglo-Saxon pottery, known as 'Ipswich-ware'. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Cash for the project was donated by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This comes after an Anglo-Saxon kiln was uncovered under the Buttermarket shopping centre in Ipswich.

Faye Minter, from Suffolk County Council, said project such as this were important as they allow teams to test hypotheses.

She said: “They allow us to test historical methods and techniques based on evidence from excavations.

“This can give invaluable insight into our history - the lives, skills and industry of people who lived in the past.”

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Burnt Mound Complex Dated To Bronze Age - Uncovered At Suffolk Site

The site, showing the evaluation trenches and excavation areas.
Image credit: Cotswold Archaeology

In Area 1, the remains of a Bronze Age burnt mound complex were revealed. In Area 2, an enclosure system of broadly the same period was recorded, together with the remains of three Iron Age roundhouses.

Overlying these remains were field patterns of medieval and later dates.

Unfortunately the Bronze Age burnt mound in Area 1 had been largely destroyed by later ploughing. Burnt mounds are enigmatic prehistoric features known from across the British Isles. Well-preserved examples are characterised by a flattened mound formed from discarded, burnt stones.

The stones were heated and then functioned as ‘pot boilers’, heating water in nearby earth-cut, possibly timber-lined troughs.

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Northumbria University forensic scientist uncovers earliest known example of burials among human ancestors

Figure 3: Artist’s reconstruction of the burial of an adult Homo naledi found in Feature 1 from the Dinaledi Chamber. Images from Berger et al., 2023. (Image: Berger et al)

A Northumbria University forensic scientist was part of a team which has unearthed the earliest example of burials by human ancestors.

Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney is Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Northumbria and specialises in taphonomy and thanatology - the science of death and processes that affect a body from decomposition, through to skeletonisation, then recovery. In a project funded by the National Geographic Society, Dr Randolph-Quinney was one of a team of experts who unearthed new evidence in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa suggesting an extinct human cousin named Homo naledi buried their dead.

This symbolic behaviour had previously only associated with modern humans and Neanderthals. Bodies of Homo naledi adults and several children, thought to be younger than 13 were deposited in foetal positions within pits, which suggests intentional burial of the dead.

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