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

Monday, 5 February 2018

Radiocarbon dating reveals mass grave did date to the Viking age

A team of archaeologists, led by Cat Jarman from the University of Bristol's Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, has discovered that a mass grave uncovered in the 1980s dates to the Viking Age and may have been a burial site of the Viking Great Army war dead.


One of the female skulls from the Repton charnel [Credit: Cat Jarman]

Although the remains were initially thought to be associated with the Vikings, radiocarbon dates seemed to suggest the grave consisted of bones collected over several centuries. New scientific research, published in Antiquity, now shows that this was not the case and that the bones are all consistent with a date in the late 9th century. Historical records state that the Viking Great Army wintered in Repton, Derbyshire, in 873 A.D. and drove the Mercian king into exile.

Excavations led by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe KjĂžlbye-Biddle at St Wystan's Church in Repton in the 1970s and 1980s discovered several Viking graves and a charnel deposit of nearly 300 people underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.

The mound appears to have been a burial monument linked to the Great Army.

An Anglo-Saxon building, possibly a royal mausoleum, was cut down and partially ruined, before being turned into a burial chamber.

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