Often regarded as ruthless robbers, the Vikings were also impressive mariners capable of traversing the North Atlantic along a nearly straight line. Now, new interpretations of a medieval compass suggest the sea robbers may have skillfully used the sun to operate the compass even when the sun had set below the horizon.
The remains of the supposed compass — known as the Uunartoq disc— were found in Greenland in 1948 in an 11th-century convent. Though some researchers originally argued it was simply a decorative object, other researchers have suggested the disc was an important navigational tool that the Vikings would have used in their roughly 1,600-mile-long (2,500 kilometers) trek from Norway to Greenland. Read more.
Excavations at the Domskirke in Ribe, Denmark began in 2008 and analysis of the results lend new insight into early Christianity, where this may have been one of the first places in the country where a small enclave of Christians worshipped and died.
Studies have now shown that there may have been Christian Vikings in Ribe around AD 865. Denmark officially became a Christian country around the year AD 965 when Harald Bluetooth announced his deed on the Jelling stone. It now seems possible that 100 years before this countrywide conversion, Christian Danish Vikings were living, dying and being buried in Ribe.
In the excavations conducted by the Southwest Jutland Museums between 2008-2012 around the Domskirke, the archaeologists found over 70 burials from the earliest period of activity. Read more.
VIKING swords and gold jewellery are being dusted off at the Yorkshire Museum in time for a week of Viking-themed fun at half- term.
The museum is planning free events for children and families throughout the half-term week, including drop-in sessions when children can hear about Viking beliefs, and Valhalla.
Emma Williams, assistant curator of science and archaeology said: “There is something about Vikings that always captures the imagination of children.
These special events, which have been planned around our fantastic Viking collection, are a great way for children to learn about the Vikings in a fun, interactive way. Read more.
A Celtic treasure looted by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago has been discovered in the British Museum’s storerooms. An ornate, gilded disc brooch dating from the eighth or ninth century was found by chance and is being described as a “staggering find”. No-one knew of its existence until now.
It had been concealed in a lump of organic material excavated from a Viking burial site at Lilleberge in Norway by a British archaeologist in the 1880s and acquired by the British Museum in 1891.
Curator Barry Ager, a Vikings specialist, was poring over artefacts before a visit from a Norwegian researching the Viking site when his eye was caught by some metal sticking out of the side of the organic lump. Read more.
The Faroe Islands were colonized much earlier than previously believed, and it wasn’t by the Vikings, according to new research.
New archaeological evidence places human colonization in the 4th to 6th centuries AD, at least 300-500 years earlier than previously demonstrated.
The research, directed by Dr Mike J Church from Durham University and Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands as part of the multidisciplinary project “Heart of the Atlantic”, is published in the Quaternary Science Reviews.
The research challenges the nature, scale and timing of human settlement of the wider North Atlantic region and has implications for the colonization of similar island groups across the world. Read more.
Research by a University College Cork scholar has made new discoveries about the “Viking loot” from Ireland.
He traced how sacred objects were turned into jewellery by Vikings in Norway, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
There are no plans, however, to seek to have returned to Ireland the crosiers that were turned into brooches and chalices that became jewellery boxes, ransacked over two centuries from the “soft targets” of the churches.
However Dr Griffin Murray of the Department of Archaeology at UCC will tell an international Viking Conference in Shetland this week that he would like to see Irish treasures “taken by the armful” returned in the form of a temporary exhibition. Read more.
Recent peaceful Viking rebrands are smashed in a vast and bloodthirsty show that will soon set sail for London
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 more.
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.
"This area of Notre Dame Bay was as good a candidate as any for that first contact between the Old World and the New World, and that’s kind of an exciting thing," said Kevin Smith, deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University. Read more.