Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Escrick sapphire ring's mystery history sparks meeting

The style and material of the ring makes it hard to date the university said

A sapphire ring found in North Yorkshire has sparked a meeting of experts to determine exactly when it was made.
The ring has baffled archaeologists because it is unlike any other according to the Yorkshire Museum.
The intricate ring, presumably made by a highly skilled craftsman, is on show at the Museum in York.
Natalie McCaul, from the museum, said the meeting may "shed new light on the ring" and "reveal some of its secrets".
The museum said the ring's style and material made it hard to date but it could have been made any time during the seventh to 11th centuries.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Quentovic: The discovery of an early Medieval trading site


Quentovic:  The discovery of an early Medieval trading site

A Lecture by

Margaret Hill
Independent Archaeologist 

Friday, 15th March 2013 at 7.00pm

Activity Space 1, Clore Learning Centre
Museum of London, London Wall


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Living conditions and indoor air quality in a reconstructed Viking house

Jannie Marie Christensen  & Morten Ryhl-Svendsen 

How harmful to a person’s health were the indoor conditions in Danish Viking Age houses? 

We do not have much direct evidence describing that. But we know that currently exposure to smoke from the solid fuel used for cooking and heating in open fireplaces in Third World homes is in harmful levels. It is among the top ten global risks for mortality and lost years of healthy life. Fuel smoke accounts for about 3 % of the global burden of diseases, mainly for women and young children, e.g.; lower respiratory infections, pulmonary diseases, and lung cancer

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Where were the Viking brew houses?

Graham Dineley, craft brewer & Merryn Dineley, independent researcher

We have been studying traditional malting and beer brewing techniques for 15 years. 
Graham is a craft brewer with 30 years’ experience of making beer from the grain. 
Merryn is an archaeologist, completing her M.Phil ‘Barley Malt & Ale in the Neolithic’ at 
the University of Manchester in 1999 and continuing research independently since then. 
The brewing of ale is a skilled craft that has hardly changed over the millennia.  For the 
last few years we have been looking into the potential archaeological evidence for the 
brewing of ale at Viking sites.

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Archeologist who found 1,400-year-old grave of princess signs copies of his new book

ROYAL FIND: Dr Steve Sherlock, who discovered the Saxon Princess jewellery at Loftus, a piece of which is shown below, signs copies of his book at Kirkleatham Museum 

THE archaeologist behind one of the most important discoveries ever made in the region held a book signing session this weekend. 

Dr Steve Sherlock discovered a striking 7th century gold pendant, which would have belonged to a princess, as well as glass beads, pottery, iron knives and other objects, in Loftus, East Cleveland between 2005 and 2007. 

The finds, which were described as “unparalleled” by experts, now form the Saxon Princess display at Redcar’s Kirkleatham Museum. 

The Princess was buried with her jewellery about 1,400 years ago and the haul was discovered at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in the North-East.

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Death, Narrative and Understanding the Viking Mind

We think we understand the Vikings and their ways as a culture of warriors and pirates. The Vikings plagued the coast of early medieval Britain, robbing from monastic and secular sites until they finally set up permanent residence in the Danelaw.

In reality, however, the Vikings inhabited a nebulous dichotomy between violent warrior and peaceful merchant.

Yet these views of the Norsemen originate from sources outside Viking culture, they originate from the victims, such as the monasteries that were attacked. As a result, our view of the Viking world is rarely from the perspective of people who were part of it. In a series of lectures to Cornell University, delivered in September 2012, Professor Neil Price of Aberdeen University attempts to bridge this gap and get inside the Viking mind.

Professor Price puts forward the argument that stories are at the heart of the Viking consciousness and that the Vikings perceived the world as a series of interconnected stories passed orally and lived out day to day. What modern scholars interpret as “Norse myths”, i.e. tales of the gods collected in what we call the Prose and Poetic Edda, were not only stories to entertain on the long Scandinavian nights, they were also a very real part of the nature of the world.

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Dig will root out secrets of Viking past

A two-mile stretch of land between Arrochar and Tarbet could hold vital clues to the Vikings' occupation of Scotland. 

An archaeological project hopes to shed new light on how the Vikings used the narrow isthmus between Loch Lomond and Loch Long to expedite their notorious plundering exploits. 

The fierce Norsemen are said to have dragged their boats across the isthmus - now the route of the busy A83 - to raid the rich Lomond settlements before encountering defeat at the Battle of Largs in 1263. 

Now an appeal has gone out for volunteers to come forward and help archaeologists in their quest for Viking clues.

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Staffordshire Hoard grows as 81 further pieces declared treasure trove

Some of the pieces of gold and silver which have been declared part of the Staffordshire Hoard. Photograph: Staffordshire County Council/PA
Anglo-Saxon gold and silver found in a field in the West Midlands has been declared treasure trove and part of the Staffordshire Hoard.

The 81 items, which date to the seventh century, will be handed to the British Museum's valuation committee to assess their worth, South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh told an inquest in Stafford on Friday. It will then be up to Staffordshire county council and neighbouring councils to raise the money to buy the new items for the nation. The original hoard, with 3,900 items, was bought for £3.3m after being found in a field near Lichfield in 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert. He split the money with Fred Johnson, the farmer who owned the land. Though a team from Archaeology Warwickshire discovered the second haul last year, proceeds from the sale will once again go to Herbert and Johnson. The most interesting finds included an eagle mount, whose use is not known, and a cheek piece from a helmet.

Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire council, said it and the owners of the original hoard, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham councils, would now have to look at raising money to buy the new items.

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Staffordshire Hoard duo in fresh windfall from new 'treasure' find

Terry Herbert from Burntwood, Staffordshire, with some of the pieces which made up 
an Anglo-Saxon hoard

More than 80 Anglo-Saxon gold and silver items found buried in a field near Lichfield were ruled to be part of a collection dubbed the Staffordshire Hoard. 
After they were yesterday declared a treasure trove, experts from British Museum's valuation committee were instructed to assess their worth. 
Staffordshire County Council and neighbouring councils will also attempt to raise the money to buy the new items, which date to the 7th century, for the nation. 
The haul will likely to end up in museums with the original Staffordshire Hoard, which was found in a field in 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert, 57.

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Staffordshire hoard site yields further 90 fragments

Staffordshire hoard: part of a helmet was among the pieces unearthed in the Hammerwich field last month. Photograph: Staffordshire county council/PA

Gold and garnet cross and eagle-shaped mount among latest items unearthed by archaeologists in Hammerwich field

More gold and silver, including a gold and garnet cross, an eagle-shaped mount, and what could be a helmet cheek piece, have been churned up by ploughing in Staffordshire in the same field which three years ago yielded one of the most spectacular Anglo Saxon hauls.

When archaeologists first scoured farmer Fred Johnson's field in Hammerwich and discovered the hoard, which comprised more than 3,500 fragments of metalwork including sword, shield and helmet mounts inlaid with pieces of garnet and enamel, they left convinced they had emptied it of every scrap of treasure. Now a 90 further pieces have been found.

The workmanship in the new finds appears identical to pieces from the original haul; the helmet cheek piece appears to match one found three years ago.

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Rebirth of the Viking warship that may have helped Canute conquer the seas

Timbers of Roskilde 6 Viking warship being fitted into the steel frame for display in Copenhagen 
and at the British Museum.
When the sleek, beautiful silhouette of Roskilde 6 appeared on the horizon, 1,000 years ago, it was very bad news. The ship was part of a fleet carrying an army of hungry, thirsty warriors, muscles toned by rowing and sailing across the North Sea; a war machine like nothing else in 11th-century Europe, its arrival meant disaster was imminent.

Now the ship's timbers are slowly drying out in giant steel tanks at the Danish national museum's conservation centre at Brede outside Copenhagen, and will soon again head across the North Sea – to be a star attraction at an exhibition in the British Museum.

The largest Viking warship ever found, it was discovered by chance in 1996 at Roskilde. It is estimated that building it would have taken up to 30,000 hours of skilled work, plus the labour of felling trees and hauling materials. At just over 36 metres, it was four metres longer than Henry VIII's flagship Mary Rose built 500 years later, and six metres longer than the Viking ship spectacularly recreated as Sea Stallion, which sailed from Scandinavia around Scotland to Dublin in 2007.

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Staffordshire Hoard: Gold fragments found in Hammerwich

About 90 more pieces of gold and silver believed to belong to the Staffordshire Hoard have been found.

The discovery was made by archaeologists in the same Staffordshire field at Hammerwich where 3,500 pieces were found in 2009.

Some of the new pieces are fragments that fit with parts of the original hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver.

They include a possible helmet cheek piece, a cross shaped mount and an eagle shaped mount.

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Norwegian Vikings grew hemp

Remnants of the Iron Age Sosteli farm in Vest-Agder County, Norway's southernmost. Hemp was cultivated here even before the Viking Age. (Photo: Morten Teinum/Visit Sørlandet)

The Sosteli farmsted, in Norway's southermmost Vest-Agder County, offers strong evidence that Vikings farmers actively cultivated cannabis, a recent analysis shows. The cannabis remains from the farmsted date from 650 AD to 800 AD.

This is not the first sign of hemp cultivation in Norway this far back in time, but the find is much more extensive than previous discoveries.

“The other instances were just individual finds of pollen grains. Much more has been found here,” says Frans-Arne Stylegar, an archaeologist and the county's curator.

Rope and textiles
Sosteli is also further away from current-day settlements than other sites where cannabis finds have been made.

Hemp is the same plant as cannabis, or marijuana. But nothing indicates that the Vikings cultivated the plant to get people high.

Most likely it was grown for making textiles and rope.

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Saxon graves uncovered at St Margaret's

Five Saxon graves have been discovered by archaeologists at St Margaret’s. The graves were unearthed at The Droveway by Keith Parfitt, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, who also discovered Dover’s Bronze Age Boat 20 years ago.

Items found in the graves, including a warrior’s shield, are now being cleaned so that they can be studied more closely. It is hoped they might be put on display at Dover Museum.

Mr Parfitt and his team had been called ahead of plans to build on the site and initial excavations indicated there may well be graves there.

A few weeks ago, before the builders moved in, the archaeologists carried out a more thorough excavation and found five graves. One was believed to have been that of an elderly woman where a brooch was found and another was of a warrior who was buried with his shield.

“The graves were quite widely spaced apart, unlike the Anglo Saxon cemetery which we uncovered at Buckland,” said Mr Parfitt.

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How Vikings killed time

The Vikings played ball, lifted stones and wrestled. Often the games turned violent and bloody, occasionally resulting in death.

When Viking men played their games, the women watched - except in drinking games. This is a scene from at saga play in Steigen, Norway. (Photo: Mari Pedersen)

Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.

In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.

The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012.

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Anglo-Saxon treasure reveals west Norfolk cremation

Fragments of an early Anglo-Saxon silver brooch found in Norfolk has given archaeologists new evidence of a cremation burial in the area.

Experts say the 6th Century brooch, found near West Acre, could possibly have originated in mainland Europe.

The brooch, along with a Medieval copper coin-like medal known as a jetton and a Middle Anglo-Saxon sword belt mount, has been declared treasure.

An expert from the British Museum said the 13th Century jetton was "unusual".

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Archaeologists reveal rare Anglo-Saxon feasting hall

A rare Anglo-Saxon feasting hall has been spectacularly uncovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Reading working at Lyminge in Kent. The Guardian have today featured this amazing discovery in the newspaper and on their website.

This is the first discovery of a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon ‘Great Hall' in over 30 years and one of only a handful of such major buildings to be excavated in its entirety. Large enough to accommodate up to 60 people and forming part of a formal complex of buildings, the hall would have been used as a venue for royal assemblies attended by the king and his armed entourage.

The current excavations, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with support from project partners Kent Archaeological Society and staff from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, are designed to shed new light on Lyminge as a key site for understanding the origins of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England.

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