Mar 22, 2010

Archaeologically Speaking...

CNN has reported a very intriguing discovery this last week in England, just a stones throw from the 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth. Fifty one bodies were unearthed from a mass grave, all with their heads having been chopped off. Many of the executed men suffered multiple wounds, inflicted by a sharp-bladed weapon, to the skull, jaw and upper spine, all thought to relate to the process of decapitation . I know it sounds rather grisly but from an archeological standpoint, who they were is proving to be very interesting indeed.

Analysis of the men's teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago and some of the men show evidence of other wounds, including a cut to the pelvis, blows to the chest and stomach, and defensive injuries to the hands. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.

Quoting David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology. "Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual and presents an incredible opportunity to learn more about what is happening in Dorset at this time."

Radiocarbon dating had already placed the remains between A.D. 890 and 1030, before the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England and further research has indicated  that these individuals came from a climate that had to be colder than Britain ... probably Sweden and Norway. Analysis of isotopes found that they ate a high protein diet, comparable to known sites in Sweden.

The leader of the Dorset County Council, Angus Campbell has said the construction of the road had already revealed prehistoric and Iron Age finds. "But we never would have dreamed of finding a Viking war grave."  "The burial pit took us all by surprise and its story gets more fascinating as the analysis goes on."


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Grisly, but interesting.

Nariane said...

love history.
love this kind of stuff... even if it is gruesome.
It is what we were... we've still got a ways to go, eh??

Rue said...

Eeek! But really - wow. I love archeology. Had I more patience and stamina, I'd have stayed in college and perhaps gone this route. So interesting!