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

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Amateur archaeologist finds Viking treasure on Danish island

It’s very rare to have found so many Harald Bluetooth coins (photo: Museum Vestsjælland)

A Danish amateur archaeologist has made a stunning find on the island of Omø just off the coast of southern Zealand.
The discovery – which consists of rare silver treasure dating back to the Viking era – was made when Robert Hemming Poulsen paid a work trip to Omø to lay fibre optic cables. He brought his metal detector along and hunted for buried treasure after work.
“A treasure like this is found once every 10-15 years,” said Hugo Hvid Sørensen, a curator from Museum Vestsjælland, where the treasure is now on display. “It contains many items and is extremely well kept because it has been buried in sandy earth.”
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Hiker stumbles upon ‘extraordinary’ 1,200-year-old Viking sword

After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age

Viking sword found by a hiker in Hordaland, Norway. Photograph: Hordaland County Counci

Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

1,200-year-old Viking sword discovered by hiker

This sword dating from c. 750 AD was discovered by a hiker in Norway. An archaeologist said the artifact was an important example of the Viking age.

A sword is probably the last thing you'd expect to find on a hike -- especially one that's more than a millennium old.
But that's what happened to a man in Norway who recently stumbled across a 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient route.
The find, which dates from approximately 750 A.D. and is in exceptionally good condition, was announced by Hordaland County Council.
County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd described the discovery as "quite extraordinary."
"It's quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved ... it might be used today if you sharpened the edge," he told CNN.
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Lyon paléochrétien : fouille du cimetière de Saint-Just et Saint-Irénée

Dans le cadre du projet de complexe immobilier Lugdunum implanté le long de la Montée de Choulans, près de la place Wernert dans le 5earrondissement de Lyon, une équipe d’archéologues de l’Inrap fouille sur une emprise de plus de 2 400 m² jusqu’à fin 2015. Effectuées sur prescription de l’État (Drac Rhône-Alpes), ces recherches font suite à un diagnostic archéologique qui a révélé un vaste espace funéraire, établi entre les deux églises paléochrétiennes de Saint-Irénée et de Saint-Just entre le IVe et le VIIe siècle. 

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UK buyer sought to keep Anglo-Saxon brooch in country

An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it.
The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.
An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women.
Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.
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Friday, 23 October 2015

76 skeletons discovered at Saxon Woolwich

Saxon remains have been found by archaeologists excavating Berkeley Homes development site on the Royal Arsenal Riverside site. 

Saxon burial being excavated [Credit: South London Press] 

Oxford Archaeology have uncovered evidence of nearly 3000 years of human activity on the west side of the site which in ancient times would have been a gravel peninsula surrounded by marshlands. 

Surprisingly a burial site with 76 skeletons have been found which have been radio carbon dated to the late 7th or early 8th century meaning they are former inhabitants of Saxon Woolwich. 

Project manager David Score said ‘It is amazing to find such a large number of relatively well preserved skeletons, despite all the later building on the site over the years. They seem to represent a mixed population with males and females, children and adults present. Only one possible knife was recorded as a probable grave deposit so it seems that the burials do represent an early Christian tradition’.

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Hiker finds 1,200-yr-old Viking sword in Norway

A hiker travelling the ancient route between western and eastern Norway found a 1,200-year-old Viking sword after sitting down to rest after a short fishing trip. 

The sword is in such good condition it could be used today  [Credit: Hordaland Country Council] 

The sword, found at Haukeli in central southern Norway will be sent for conservation at the The University Museum of Bergen. 

Jostein Aksdal, an archeologist with Hordaland County said that the sword was in such good condition that if it was given a new grip and a polish, it could be used today. 

“The sword was found in very good condition. It is very special to get into a sword that is merely lacking its grip,” he said.

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Early Medieval Church at Seydisfjordur in Iceland

How to envisage the conversion to Christianity in Iceland? This is the question raised by archaeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir in a recent article presenting the early medieval Þórarinsstaðir church in Iceland

The early Christian church site at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, is an example of how religious buildings and their belongings reflect both ecclesiastical and worldly contacts in early medieval Europe.
The site was excavated in 1998–1999 and revealed, for what was then the first time in Iceland, a timber-constructed church building of two phases, dated to the early and late 11th century (Kristjánsdóttir 2004, pp. 84–95). Interestingly, the church buildings at Þórarinsstaðir appeared to be of the same form of construction as that characterizing many of the earliest churches found in Viking settlement areas in Northern Europe: an early type of stave church, here called a post church, notably one built of timber with earth-dug corner posts
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Monday, 12 October 2015

“Princely Grave” Unearthed in Czech Republic

rchaeologists from Poland’s University of Rzeszów have uncovered the 2,000-year-old stone-lined grave of a young man in a cemetery discovered in 2010 by metal detectorists conducting an illegal search. The young man, thought to have been a member of the Marcomanni aristocracy, had been wearing a leather belt with a buckle, and buried in a wooden coffin that may have been a hollowed tree trunk. The Germanic Marcomanni eventually had political and trade relationships with Rome. “Evidence of these contacts and the formation of elites in barbarian societies are the rich tombs with objects from the areas of the Empire,” head of excavations Agnieszka Půlpánová-Reszczyńska told Science & Scholarship in Poland. Two vessels, one of clay and one of bronze, were found at the young man’s head. Similar tombs have also contained bronze vessels at the foot of the dead, but this one may have been robbed, since the foot of the tomb was empty and the stones around it were more loosely arranged. Geophysical surveys of the area suggest that the team will find additional Marcomanni tombs. To read about Rome's rise to power, go to "Rome's Imperial Port."

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EMAS Field Trip: Four Anglo-Saxon Churches in Hampshire

EMAS Field Trip to Headborne Worthy; Tichborne; Corhamton

and Boarhunt Anglo-Saxon Churches

Saturday, 7 November 2015

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You can find more EMAS events here...

Archaeologists to uncover secrets of Viking fortress

When archaeologists found the first Viking Age fortress in Denmark for 60 years last September, it was hailed as a fantastic archaeological discovery.
Now the time has come for the archaeologists to unearth the hidden secrets and legacy of the fortress, located near Køge just south of Copenhagen. A 20 million kroner grant from the AP Møller Fund and 4.5 million kroner from Køge Municipality has helped make that possible.
“With the grant, the Danish Castle Centre – a division of Museum Southeast Denmark and Aarhus University – has worked out a unique research project seeking to explore the secrets Borgring is hiding beneath Danish soil,” the Danish Castle Centre said.
“With the use of modern archaeological methods the scientists and archaeologists will investigate how the fortresses were used, how they were organised, how quickly they were built, their age and what environment, landscape and geography they were a part of.”
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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Could Cramond hold the secret of Scotland during Dark Ages?

A two-year investigation into the mystery of an Edinburgh crypt has cast important new light on the turbulent history of the Dark Ages.

The mass burial in Cramond, believed to be the oldest occupied village in Scotland, was uncovered in 1975 during an excavation of a Roman Bathhouse found at the site of a car park. Forty years later, a team led by the City of Edinburgh Council has embraced modern science to examine the remains of nine individuals found in the grave with fascinating results.

The evidence has disproved an early theory that the bodies were victims of the bubonic plague, instead dating the individuals back another 800 years to the 6th Century AD. Thanks to state-of-the-art computer programming, researchers were able to create lifelike facial representations for the 1,500 year old skeletons.

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Quand Poitiers s'appelait Limonum

L’archéologie urbaine étudie l’histoire des villes. Fouilles après fouilles, elle accumule les informations qui permettent de comprendre comment ces villes sont nées, comment elles ont évolué. Ce dossier vous invite à découvrir ce que l’on sait de Limonum pendant l’Antiquité, de la fin de l’époque gauloise à l’arrivée des Francs.

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Lewis chessmen might be Icelandic in origin

Carbon dating of walrus bones found in Snæfellsnes peninsula indicates that the bones are at least 2000 years old. A large number of walrus skulls and walrus tusks have been found around Garðafjara beach on the south coast Snæfellsnes. The first skull was discovered 1884. All in all the bones of 50 walruses have been found, most in the past 50 years. Biologists argue this indicates Snæfellsnes was the home of a sizable walrus colony prior to the settlement of Iceland. 

The Lewis Chessmen: A ferocius berserker (rook), a stern king  and a contemplative queen 
[Credit: WikiCommons] 

A previous theory, explaining the concentration of bone discoveries, speculated they came from the wreck of a ship which had been carrying walrus bones to Europe. However, the existence of a large walrus colony in Iceland would have meant the accumulation of walrus skeletons and skulls which would have been discovered by the Viking age settlers of Iceland. 

Hilmar J. Malmquist, the chief of the Icelandic Natural History Museum points out in an interview with the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that such graveyards of walrus bones could also explain references to walruses in Icelandic place names, shedding light on the possible use of walrus ivory by the early settlers of Iceland who could have had access to domestic ivory found in such bone yards.

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