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

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Norway couple find Viking grave under floor of their house

The couple were pulling up the floor to install insulation. Photo: Nordland County Council

A couple in northern Norway were pulling up the floor of their house to install insulation when they found a glass bead, and then a Viking axe. Now archeologists suspect they live above an ancient Viking grave
"It wasn't until later that we realised what it could be," Mariann Kristiansen from Seivåg near Bodø told Norway's state broadcaster NRK of the find. "We first thought it was the wheel of a toy car." 

Archaeologist Martinus Hauglid from Nordland county government visited the couple last Monday and judged taht find was most likely a grave from the Iron Age or Viking Age.

"It was found under stones that probably represent a cairn. We found an axe dated from between 950AD and 1050AD and a bead of dark blue glass, also of the late Viking period," he told The Local. 

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Thursday, 28 May 2020

Melting ice reveals an ancient, once-thriving trade route

Upper left: an object interpreted as a tong (a clamp for holding fodder on a sled or wagon), dated to the Late Roman Iron Age; right: a similar, undated object, also from the pass area; lower left: a historical example from Uppigard Garmo, pre-dating c. 1950. Credit: Glacier Archaeology Program & R. Marstein/Lars Pilø et al.

High in the mountains of Norway, melting ice has led to the discovery of an ancient remote mountain pass, complete with trail markers and artifacts from the Roman Iron Age and the time of the Vikings. The remains reveal this route served a dual function historically: It was once a significant passageway for moving livestock between grazing sites as well as for inter-regional travel and trade. This particular receding ice patch is known as Lendbreen, and because of its tame geologic features, hundreds of artifacts have been pristinely preserved. Most are from the Viking Age, providing an odd inland perspective to the age-old tales of their audacious maritime journeying.

Glaciers and ice patches throughout the world's high mountain regions are receding, leaving behind precious artifacts, like Ötzi the ice man and his tool kit, that have been buried under ice for centuries. The rate of melt has been accelerating over the past few decades as a result of the warming climate. In the 1980s, glaciers lost less than a foot of ice per year, on average. That number increased every decade so that by 2018, glaciers around the world were losing mass at a pace of three feet per year. This rise in melt drastically propelled the field of glacier and ice patch archaeology—especially in Scandinavia, the Alps and North America—as archaeologists raced to collect artifacts uncovered by this process.

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Sunday, 24 May 2020

Norfolk discovery of 1,100-year-old brooch 'will remain a mystery'

Experts at the British Museum say the brooch is of "national significance"
Image copyright NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

The origins of a 1,100-year-old brooch found in a lorry-load of soil may be "a mystery" that is never solved, say archaeologists.

The late 9th Century silver disc was discovered in a field in Great Dunham, Norfolk, which had recently been landscaped.

It is not known where the soil came from, but experts say the find is similar to the nearby Pentney Hoard.

The British Museum said the discovery was of "national importance".

An inquest - the process by which the find may be officially declared treasure - has been opened in Norwich and will conclude on 9 June.

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Monday, 18 May 2020

Fungus is destroying a buried Viking ship. Here's how Norway plans to save it.

Image: © Lars Gustavsen/NIKU)

Archaeologists are racing against the clock to save the remains of a buried Viking ship from a ruthless foe: fungus. 

If the project is successful, the 65-foot-long (20 meters) oak vessel — called the Gjellestad ship — will become the first Viking ship to be excavated in Norway in 115 years, said Sveinung Rotevatn, the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment. 

"Norway has a very special responsibility safeguarding our Viking Age heritage," Rotevatn told Live Science in an email. "Now, we are choosing to excavate in order to protect what remains of the find, and secure important knowledge about the Viking Age for future generations."

The ship is buried at a well-known Viking archaeological site at Gjellestad, near Halden, a town in southeastern Norway. But scientists discovered the vessel only recently, in the fall of 2018, by using radar scans that can detect structures underground. The scans revealed not only the ship, but also the Viking cemetery where it was ritually buried.

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Ancient Tap O' Noth hillfort in Aberdeenshire one of 'largest ever'

Tap O' Noth overlooks Rhynie
UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN

A hillfort in Aberdeenshire is one of the largest ancient settlements ever discovered in Scotland, researchers have said.

University of Aberdeen archaeologists say 4,000 people may have lived in more than 800 huts perched high on the Tap O' Noth near Rhynie.

Many had thought it dated from the Bronze or Iron Age.

The team said carbon dating suggested it was likely to be Pictish, dating back as far as the third century AD.

They believe at its height it may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe.

Archaeologists from the university have conducted extensive fieldwork in the surrounding area since 2011.

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Hillfort revealed to be the largest Pictish site ever discovered in Scotland

Drone view of the Tap O’ Noth Hillfort [Credit: University of Aberdeen]

A spectacular hillfort overlooking a tiny Aberdeenshire village has been revealed as one of the largest ancient settlements ever discovered in Scotland.

University of Aberdeen archaeologists have uncovered evidence that up to 4,000 people may have lived in more than 800 huts perched high on the Tap O’ Noth close to the village of Rhynie.

Radiocarbon dating suggests the fort – a settlement within a rampart which encloses an area of around 17 acres -  was constructed in the fifth to sixth centuries AD and that settlement on the hill may date back as far as the third century AD, meaning it is likely to be Pictish in origin.

Their discovery means that the area, which today is a quiet village home to just a few hundred people, once had a hilltop settlement that at its height may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe.

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Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Coronavirus: Lockdown boost for archaeology as amateurs uncover Roman remains

The technology can 'strip away' vegetation and modern features to reveal what is underneath

Self-isolating volunteers analyse aerial survey maps to reveal ancient roads and settlements.

Lockdown has given archaeology an unexpected boost with volunteers finding previously unrecorded Roman, prehistoric and medieval sites from the comfort of their own homes.

In a project coordinated by a team at Exeter University, enthusiastic amateurs have been analysing images derived from Lidar (light detection and ranging) data - laser technology used during aerial surveys to produce highly detailed topographical maps.

Modern vegetation and buildings can be digitally removed, allowing archaeologists to look at the shape of the land surface to find the remains of archaeological earthworks.

The data is being systematically examined and cross-referenced with records of known archaeology and historic maps, meaning the total of new discoveries regularly changes.

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