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

Sunday, 30 June 2013

In search of the lost city

It doesn't have a name yet, but there is a search party out looking for it. It is the city that produced the 1,500 bodies found in the Visigothic necropolis of Vicálvaro, which the Madrid government has earmarked for destruction because it has "no relevance." The remains are thought to date back to between the fifth and eighth centuries AD.

Over this early burial site on an enormous dry plain, right next to the highway to Valencia, the Madrid government is planning to build a total of 15,400 housing units.

But before construction begins, regional authorities have granted permission to look for further traces of the people who once dwelled in these parts.

Read the rest of this article...

Friday, 28 June 2013

Gold Viking ingot discovered by amateur treasure hunter

A rare piece of Viking gold dating back more than a thousand years was discovered by an amateur with a metal detector in Northern Ireland, it was revealed.

The ingot is one of only a few nuggets known from Ireland, experts said Photo: PA

Tom Crawford was pursuing his hobby in farmland in Co Down last year when he found the small but precious ingot, which may have been used as currency during the 9th and 10th centuries. It is one of only a few nuggets known from Ireland, experts said.
Mr Crawford also uncovered a tiny silver ring brooch with unusual floral imprints, probably used for decoration by a man or woman during the Medieval period, a short distance away.
"It is all part of the big jigsaw of the history of this country," he told a Belfast inquest convened to establish if the find was treasure.
Read the rest of this article...

Viking gold unearthed by treasure hunter in County Down

Tom Crawford found the ingot in Brickland last year

A treasure hunter armed with a metal detector has unearthed a rare piece of Viking gold that is more than 1,000 years old.
Tom Crawford was sweeping farmland in County Down last year when he found the small ingot which may have been used as currency during the 9th and 10th centuries.
Experts said only a few such nuggets had been found in Ireland.
Close by, he found a tiny silver ring brooch dating from medieval times.
Read the rest of this article...

Isle of Man Viking silver declared 'treasure trove'

Four Viking silver objects have now been dug up in the same Isle of Man field

Three pieces of Viking silver dating back 1,000 years, discovered using a metal detector in the Isle of Man, have been declared treasure trove.
An inquest heard the three items, found by Seth Crowe in a field in Andreas in April, date back to between 930 and 1080 AD.
Archaeologists believe the two silver ingots and brooch fragment contain more than 60% silver.
Coroner of Inquests John Needham made the ruling at Douglas Courthouse.
Mr Crowe, 39, made the discovery having sought the permission of the landowner Leslie Faragher, some years ago.
Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Sutton Hoo Online Exhibition

In 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, an archaeologist named Basil Brown excavated the largest of 18 burial mounds in the grounds of a country house at Sutton Hoo in the east of England. What he discovered turned out to be a spectacular undisturbed burial. 

Placed inside a vast ship, were the extraordinarily rich belongings of a high-ranking Anglo-Saxon man, possibly even a king...

View the online exhibition...

From Sutton Hoo to the soccer pitch: culture with a click

Museums, libraries and galleries are a tourist staple of the summer holiday season. Often they’re the first place we head to when visiting a new city or town in order to learn about the heritage of that country. Though only a lucky few have the chance to travel to see these treasures first-hand, the Internet is helping to bring access to culture even when you can’t visit in person. 

At the Google Cultural Institute, we’ve been busy working with our partners to add a range of new online exhibitions to our existing collection. With more than 6 million photos, videos and documents, the diversity and range of subject matter is large—a reflection of the fact that culture means different things to different people. What the exhibitions have in common is that they tell stories; objects are one thing but it’s the people and places they link to that make them fascinating. 

The British Museum is the U.K.’s most popular visitor attraction and the 4th most visited museum in the world. It’s well known for housing one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made—the 1,400 year old Anglo-Saxon burial from Sutton Hoo, untouched until its discovery in 1939. Their online exhibition “Sutton Hoo: Anglo-Saxon ship burial” explores the discovery of the ship, featuring videos of the excavation and photos of the iconic helmet and a solid gold belt buckle. All this tells the story of how the burial and its contents changed our understanding of what Anglo-Saxon society was like.

Read the rest of this article...


The Craw Stane stands in a field above Rhynie churchyard and is a Class I Pictish symbol stone. 
Image: David Connolly

Ateam from the University of Aberdeen commenced digging at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire in Scotland – a site famous for its impressive collection of carved Pictish standing stones.
Knowledge of the Pictish kingdoms, which developed between the 5th and 11th centuries, is relatively poor with the standing stones some of the only relics remaining of the once powerful people.
Rhynie boasts eight such stones, including the Craw Stone, which is thought to have been the centre point of an elaborate fortified settlement of the 5th-6th centuries AD.

A very royal place

Since 2011 Aberdeen and Chester universities have been uncovering dramatic evidence concerning the stones at Rhynie”, explained project leader Dr Gordon Noble of the University of Aberdeen. “Rhynie derives from ‘rhynnoid’, which means ‘a very royal place’, which is fitting considering what’s been uncovered there over the last few years.

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 24 June 2013

Biggest Viking exhibition in 20 years opens – and this time they're angry

Recent peaceful Viking rebrands are smashed in a vast and bloodthirsty show that will soon set sail for London

A violent animated backdrop to a reconstructed Viking warship

All around the hull of the longest Viking warship ever found there are swords and battle axes, many bearing the scars of long and bloody use, in an exhibition opening in Copenhagen that will smash decades of good public relations for the Vikings as mild-mannered traders and farmers.
"Some of my colleagues thought surely one sword is enough," archaeologist and co-curator Anne Pedersen said, "but I said no, one can never have too many swords."
The exhibition, simply called Viking, which will be opened at the National Museum by Queen Margrethe of Denmark on Thursday, and to the public on Saturday, will sail on to to London next year to launch the British Museum's new exhibition space.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Large Iron Age houses discovered

The Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg [Credit: MVFram]
Archaeologists from the science museum in Trondheim have located the foundations of two large houses from the Iron Age, close to one of the biggest burial grounds in Hallem, near Stiklestad in Trøndelag.
"This rarely happens in Norway, and it is completely unexpected" says archaeologist Marte Mokkelbost. The archaeologists have discovered two so-called "long houses" that confirm that Stiklestad was an area inhabited by people who were both wealthy and in power during the iron age.

The burial grounds at Stiklestad is one of the largest collection of cemeteries in Norway. The houses were found very close by, and one of the houses is more than 50 meters long and eight meters wide. 

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Replica Viking ship takes to the water

A group of history enthusiasts from across the north west have successfully rowed the biggest replica Viking ship in the world.

Replica Viking ship takes to the water
Replica Viking ship [Credit: ITV]
Despite many of them being novices, the group managed to get the 70-ton Dragon Harald Fairhair up to a respectable 3 knots on the fjords near Karmoy island in Western Norway.It's hoped the ship, which is named after the king who united the country more than 1,000 years ago, will retrace the route of the Vikings and visit Merseyside and the Isle of Man next year.

Trials are currently underway near the town of Haugesund where she was built. If they are successful, the vessel will embark on a major international voyage that could see her sail as far as New York.The ship was funded by a local businessman to learn more about ancient boat-building techniques and the Vikings themselves. It has been designed using a combination of archaeological evidence, details from folklore and local knowledge handed down over the generations.While it is mainly wind power that will get the Dragon between destinations, organisers need volunteers to row her in to and out of port.

Read the rest of this article...

The First Vikings

Two remarkable ships may show that the Viking storm was brewing long before their assault on England and the continent

(Courtesy Liina Maldre, University of Tallinn)The carefully stacked remains of 33 men were buried in the ship that brought them from Scandinavia to an Estonian island more than a century before the Vikings are thought to have been able to sail across such distances.

According to historians, the Viking Age began on June 8, A.D. 793, at an island monastery off the coast of northern England. A contemporary chronicle recorded the moment with a brief entry: “The ravages of heathen men miserably destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne, with plunder and slaughter.” The “heathen men” were Vikings, fierce warriors who sailed from Scandinavia and bore down on their prey in Europe and beyond in sleek, fast-sailing ships. In the centuries that followed, the Vikings’ vessels carried them deep into Russia and as far south as Constantinople, Sicily, and possibly even North Africa. They organized flotillas capable of carrying warriors across vast distances, and terrorized the English, Irish, and French coasts with lightning-fast raids. Exploratory voyages to the west took them all the way to North America.

The Vikings’ explosion across Europe and Asia and into the Americas was the result of the right combination of tools, technology, adventurousness, and ferocity. They came to be known as an unstoppable force capable of raiding and trading on four continents, yet our understanding of what led up to that June day on Lindisfarne is surprisingly shaky. A recent discovery on a remote Baltic island is beginning to change that. Two ships filled with slain warriors uncovered on the Estonian island of Saaremaa may help archaeologists and historians understand how the Vikings’ warships evolved from short-range, rowed craft to sailing ships; where the first warriors came from; and how their battle tactics developed. “We all agree these burials are Scandinavian in origin,” says Marge Konsa, an archaeologist at the University of Tartu. “This is our first taste of the Viking era.”
Read the rest of this article...

Unique gold figurine of naked woman found in Denmark

A small figurine depicting a slim, naked woman was recently found in a Danish field. Strangely, this is the fifth in a series of tiny golden human figurines found recently in the area.

A field on the Danish island of Bornholm has in recent years been the site of many surprising archaeological finds. The most recent one of these was of a golden figurine of a naked woman.
The small, heavily arched figurine is only 4.2 cm tall and weighs 3 grams, has many details and bears the mark of quality craftsmanship.
Stretched arms and sagging breasts
The woman has a long and slender body, which may have been made out of a thin bar of gold. The head is elongated with a protruding jaw and incised hair. The breasts are sagging and below both shoulders are notches, indicating that her arms have been tied around her body.
Read the rest of this article...

Exciting rediscovery of lost medieval carved stone!

Whilst enjoying a bank holiday stroll, Royal Commission staff member Nikki Vousden and Dr Roderick Bale (archaeologist at University of Wales TSD Lampeter) came across a long-lost medieval inscribed stone in a stream in Silian!

Nikki and the rediscovered stone at the find spot
The find spot is just south-west of St Sulien’s Church, Silian (NPRN 402554), home to two further medieval inscribed stones. The church site, thought to have been of high-status, has been in use for at least 1500 years. Although the current church building dates from 1873, it is thought to stand on medieval foundations and has an early-fifth/sixth-century inscribed stone built into its south wall.

The lost stone was first noted by Nash-Williams in The Early Christian Monuments of Wales; a cast of its inscribed face was made for the National Museum of Wales. It was tentatively ascribed to Silian because of the label on a photograph, also at the National Museum of Wales. The stone is referred to as ‘Silian 3’ in Nancy Edwards’ Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales, Volume II, and its decoration is thought to be ninth/tenth century in date

Read the rest of this article...

Monday, 10 June 2013

Medieval burial site unearthed at Clare Castle

Human remains have been found during an archaeological dig in Clare Castle Country Park, revealing the location of a Christian burial site previously unknown to historians.

Medieval burial site unearthed at Clare Castle
Image of the graves in Trench B, with the foot bones of the northerly inhumation visible in the section of the right-hand grave [Credit: Access Cambridge Archaeology]
The three sets of remains were found during a nine-day dig led by a team of ten archaeologists from Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA).

The dig, which saw four trenches excavated at different locations within the grounds of Clare Castle, was part of the Managing a Masterpiece project, which aims to find out more about the history of the Stour Valley landscape and discover how traditional land management has shaped it.

Read the rest of this article...

Research sheds new light on Viking travels in N.L.

Vikings settled at the L'Anse aux Meadows site on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland. (CBC)

Norsemen may have encountered Newfoundland Beothuk, study suggests

An American researcher has found new information about the movement of the Vikings in Newfoundland and Labrador which suggests they may have moved further inland than previously thought, and may have even travelled to other parts of Atlantic Canada.
Kevin Smith, chief curator at Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University in Rhode Island, says the Norsemen may have had contact with the Aboriginal Peoples a thousand years ago. He presented his findings in April at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
According to Smith, recent geochemical tests of a red stone-like flint used by the Vikings found at the L'Anse aux Meadows site on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula show the flint came from a distinct volcanic formation in Notre Dame Bay on the island's northeast coast.
Read the rest of this article...

New North America Viking Voyage Discovered

An image showing part of the Notre Dame Bay coastline. At the time the Norse journey took place this area was populated by the ancestors of the Beothuk people. The land is also heavily forested, a sharp contrast to the relatively more barren lands in the North Atlantic which the Norse had sailed to earlier. It was also rich in fish, birds and sea mammals and the temperature was warmer. 
CREDIT: Kevin Smith.

Some 1,000 years ago, the Vikings set off on a voyage to Notre Dame Bay in modern-day Newfoundland, Canada, new evidence suggests.

The journey would have taken the Vikings, also called the Norse, from L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the same island to a densely populated part of Newfoundland and may have led to the first contact between Europeans and the indigenous people of the New World.

Read the rest of this article...

New Evidence of a Viking Voyage Found at L’Anse aux Meadows


Chemical analysis of two jasper fire starters unearthed at the site of L’Anse aux Meadows, a Norse site in the New World, suggests that the raw material to make them came from the Notre Dame Bay area of Newfoundland. “This area of Notre Dame Bay [is] archaeologically the area of densest settlement on Newfoundland, at that time, of indigenous people, the ancestors of the Beothuk,” said Kevin Smith of Brown University. Smith thinks it’s possible that the Norse and the ancestral Beothuk may have made contact when the Norse traveled from L’Anse aux Meadows. Other trips may have taken them to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where they may have obtained butternut seeds, and the Canadian Arctic, where they may have traded with indigenous people. Norse sagas tell of hostile meetings with peoples of the New World. 

Read the rest of this article...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

HaNoA - Häfen im Nordatlantik

Der Hafen von Búðasandur, Hvalfjörður, Island. Die Überreste eines Handelsplatzes befinden sich in der Bildmitte, das mittelalterliche Hafengebiet (rechts) ist heute versandet (Foto N. Mehler).

Fast alle bedeutenden mittelalterlichen Häfen des nordeuropäischen Festlandes waren Teil größerer Siedlungen, aus denen sich häufig Städte entwickelten. Viele dieser Häfen hatten spezielle Einrichtungen wie z. B. Kaianlangen, Landebrücken und Lagerhallen, die einen gut entwickelten und organisierten Schiffsbetrieb und Warenumschlag ermöglichten. Völlig anders ist die Situation im Nordatlantikraum zu dieser Zeit. Im marginalen Siedlungsgebiet von Island, Grönland, Shetland und den Färöer Inseln gab es in der Wikingerzeit und im Mittelalter keine Städte. 

Read the rest of this article...