The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the city’s cathedral. “The heathens mowed down the entire multitude of priest, clerics, and laity,” according to one witness account. Among the slain, allegedly killed while celebrating the Mass, was a bishop who later was granted sainthood.
To modern readers the attack seems monstrous, even by the standards of medieval warfare. But the witness account contains more than a touch of hyperbole, writes Anders Winroth, a Yale history professor and author of the book The Age of the Vikings, a sweeping new survey. What’s more, he says, such exaggeration was often a feature of European writings about the Vikings. Read more.
The earliest Vikings settlers of 11th century Cork were recycling and land reclamation experts, and were trading with Europe, a major report on two of the city’s most significant archaeological sites has found.
The settlers were reusing wooden planks from their old long-boats to build jetties; to reclaim land from the River Lee; and as key support structures in their homes.
They were also importing wine from France and exporting hides to Europe, from their settlement near the South Gate Bridge. Read more.
A massive research project, 15 years in the making, has revealed that beneath Dublin’s modern streets lies a trove of buried Viking warriors and artifacts.
Archaeologists say the number of Viking warrior burials in Dublin is astounding. A project cataloguing these burials was began in 1999. Now nearing its conclusion, the project will result in the publication of an 800-page tome titled ‘Viking Graves and Grave Goods in Ireland.’
“As a result of our new research, Kilmainham-Islandbridge is now demonstrably the largest burial complex of its type in western Europe, Scandinavia excluded,” says Stephen Harrison, who co-wrote the catalogue with Raghnall Ó Floinn, the director of the National Museum of Ireland. Read more.
According to archaeologists aerial infrared images suggest the existence of a late Iron Age settlement, possibly the largest such find ever in the Åland Islands or all of mainland Finland.
The aerial imaging highlighted a depression 40 metres deep and 12 metres wide which might have been the site of a massive hall used to host gatherings of ancient Vikings. No other similar find of this size has ever been discovered in the Ålands of on the Finnish mainland.
The imaging project followed observations of depressions which resembled the outlines of late Iron Age structures from other parts of Scandinavia. Read more.
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.