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

Sunday, 29 May 2016

New Lead in the Search for Elusive Norse Settlements

Wayne MacIsaac stands near what he believes may be the remnants of a Norse fortification wall. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)

CODROY VALLEY, Canada–A story passed down in my family for generations may be the clue to finding a lost Norse settlement.
The only Norse settlement in the New World thus far confirmed by archaeologists is in L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland, Canada. But the Norse sagas tell of other colonizing expeditions.
Last summer, archaeologists announced that they had found evidence of a Norse presence–a hearth used for roasting bog iron ore, which is the first step in the production of iron–at Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland. My uncle, Wayne MacIsaac, was so excited he said he didn’t sleep for three days. He felt vindicated in his long-cherished, but long-ignored, theory that he had found an ancient Norse site in the nearby Codroy Valley where he lives.
His previous attempts to attract the interest of archaeologists to the site had met with failure, but that has now changed. An international team of archaeologists are due to investigate in July.
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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

More Anglo-Saxons - including a warrior and a high-status woman - have been found by archaeologists in Wiltshire

A six-foot warrior and a high-status woman were part of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavated in south-east Wiltshire

Last month, archaeologists found an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, Neolithic monuments and spears, knives and bone combs at a proposed Ministry of Defence housing site on Salisbury Plain. In the nearby garrison town of Tidworth, they’ve now excavated a 1,300-year-old cemetery of 55 burials from between the late 7th and early 8th centuries, containing the remains of men, women and children representing a cross-section of a local community.

“The mid-Saxon cemetery is of particular importance in its own right,” says Bruce Eaton, the Project Manager for Wessex Archaeology, surveying one grave confining a six-foot tall warrior with an “unusually large” spearhead and conical shield boss. “But taken together with the excavation of the cemetery on MOD land at Bulford, which was of a similar date, we now have the opportunity to compare and contrast the burial practices of two communities living only a few miles apart. They would almost certainly have known each other.”

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Viking 'parliament' site uncovered on Scottish island

IT is an ancient meeting place where Vikings would gather to decide laws, settle disputes and make key political decisions.
Now archaeologists believe they have identified one of the Norse parliament sites – known as a ‘thing’ - on the island of Bute, which points to it being the headquarters of the powerful Norse King, Ketill Flatnose, whose descendants were the earliest settlers on Iceland.
The significance of the mound site at Cnoc An Rath, which has been listed as an important archaeological monument since the 1950s, has been unclear for decades. Some had suggested it could have been prehistoric or a medieval farm site.
However, the idea of the location being a Viking site had been raised through a recent study of place-names on the island, which suggested long-lost names in the area may have contained the Norse word ‘thing’.
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Meta-Vikings: Runestone Long Thought to Honor Kings Actually Monument to Writing Itself

This is Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rök Runestone. 
Photo: University of Gothenburg

The Rök Runestone was carved in Sweden in the late 800s. Since it was discovered in the 1940s, interpretations of the writing honed in on supposed references to heroic journeys, battles and warrior-kings.
But a new interpretation says the Runestone is in fact referencing itself – and the power of writing, according to a new study.
“The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so-called futhark,” said Per Holmberg, associate profess of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenberg.
The three-part “arc” of the stone concerns the daylight needed to write and read the stone, the carving of the stone itself, and the legacy that is produced by the writing, according to the paper, published in Futhark: The International Journal of Runic Studies.
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New Interpretation Of The Rok Runestone Inscription Changes View Of Viking Age

Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rok Runestone 
[Credit: University of Gothenburg]

The Rok Runestone, erected in the late 800s in the Swedish province of Ostergotland, is the world's most well-known runestone. Its long inscription has seemed impossible to understand, despite the fact that it is relatively easy to read. A new interpretation of the inscription has now been presented -- an interpretation that breaks completely with a century-old interpretative tradition. What has previously been understood as references to heroic feats, kings and wars in fact seems to refer to the monument itself.

'The inscription on the Rok Runestone is not as hard to understand as previously thought,' says Per Holmberg, associate professor of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenburg. 'The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so called futhark.'

Previous research has treated the Rok Runestone as a unique runestone that gives accounts of long forgotten acts of heroism. This understanding has sparked speculations about how Varin, who made the inscriptions on the stone, was related to Gothic kings. In his research, Holmberg shows that the Rok Runestone can be understood as more similar to other runestones from the Viking Age. In most cases, runestone inscriptions say something about themselves.

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