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

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bid to save Pictish cave art from coastal erosion

Archaeologists are hoping to save ancient cave drawings from coastal erosion. Since the 5th century humans have been painting the walls of Wemyss Caves, creating a rich record of Scottish history over the past 1500 years.
Bid to save Pictish cave drawings from coastal erosion
One of the carvings in Sliding Cave [Credit: SCH@RP Blog]
They include the largest collection of Pictish drawings in North West Europe. The seven caves, which expand over a kilometre of the Fife coast, are being slowly destroyed by the sea.

Money has been spent trying to slow the pace of coastal erosion but every year the ocean inches closer to swallowing the paintings.

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Danish teen makes rare Viking-era find with metal detector


Danish museum officials say that an archaeological dig last year has revealed 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins.

Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark.

Sixteen-year-old Michael Stokbro Larsen found the coins and other items with a metal detector in a field in northern Denmark.

Stokbro Larsen, who often explores with his detector, said he is often laughed at because friends find him "a bit nerdy."

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Plague Helped Bring Down Roman Empire

New evidence suggests the Black Death bacterium caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. The pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (shown here), killed more than 100 million people.

Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.

Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.

The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia.

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High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead

A high-tech research park is going to be built on land that once housed a Roman farmstead. An archaeological dig on the site of what will become the Haverhill Research Park has revealed traces of activity from the Iron Age through to the 1840s.
High-tech dig finds Roman farmstead
James Newboult said the size of the dig helped reveal the site's extensive history [Credit: BBC]
An Anglo Saxon hall and several pieces of jewellery were also found during the excavation, which covered 4.5 hectares.

Headland Archaeology said the dig had provided a "really interesting window" into Haverhill's history. The research park is being built on the A1307, the main road to Cambridge from Haverhill, and will also include a hotel and housing.

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Monday, 6 May 2013

'Missing' rune stone turns up near Stockholm

A Viking-era rune stone has been "rediscovered" near Vaxholm in the Stockholm archipelago after a group of university students stumbled across the historic rock that had been hiding in plain sight for nearly 300 years.
'Missing' rune stone turns up near Stockholm
Researcher Magnus Källström examining the rune stone [Credit: The Local]
"It’s a very intriguing find, it shows that there is so much history yet to discover," researcher Magnus Källström from the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) told The Local in reference to the 1,000-year-old stone.

The find took place last week while archaeologist Torun Zachrisson and a group of students from Stockholm University were on an excursion in hopes of finding a rune stone known as U 170.

According to Zachrisson the stone has "been missing" for 300 years, but was rumoured to be near Bogesund's brygga, a jetty just outside of the archipelago town that lies an hour east of the capital city.

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Dealing with the doldrums on a Viking voyage

The outline of a foot on the Gokstad Ship gives us an inkling of what it might have been like for Vikings to cross the ocean.

The floorboard from the Gokstad ship. (Photo: Hanne Jakobsen)

He’s crowded into a sleek sailing ship with 65 other men. Scarcely room to move. It’s been days since anybody has seen land − longer since anyone bathed. The old-timers’ repeated tales of bygone raids and voyages are beginning to wear thin. 
His place is behind an oar, but there is no need to row continuously on the North Sea. With wind in the sail, the boat surges towards England, where riches await.
But what is there to do while waiting to reach a foreign coast?
Maybe it was a teenager engaged in a Viking version of tagging a school desk. In any case, someone took out his knife, bent down and traced the outline of his foot on the deck of the Gokstad Ship.

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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Whithorn Trust raises fears over funding

Whithorn Priory
The trust runs a visitor centre and museum charting the history of Whithorn

A cash crisis is threatening an organisation set up to promote the archaeology and heritage of the "cradle of Christianity" in Scotland.
The Whithorn Trust says unless extra funds can be found it could be forced to close within a matter of weeks.
It runs a visitor centre and museum on the history of Whithorn, where St Ninian established a church in 397 AD.
However, it could be forced to shut this summer as a result of an £18,500 funding shortfall.
The trust said it would mean the loss of seven jobs and cost the local economy more than £500,000 in lost revenue from visitors.

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