Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Viking Surprises Volume 57 Number 6, November/December 2004

[image] This copper brooch led to England's first Viking burial ground. (Faye Simpson, Portable Antiquities Scheme) [LARGER IMAGE]

It's been the season for Vikings, with a replica of a warship originally crafted in Dublin setting sail in Denmark and some important discoveries in the British Isles.

Danish researchers at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde have spent four years replicating a 90-foot-long ocean-going warship based on the museum's Skuldelev 2 shipwreck. The vessel was one of five Viking ships deliberately sunk in the late eleventh century to block a channel at Skuldelev, Denmark. Archaeologists erected a cofferdam around the ships in 1962 and spent seven years excavating them. While Skuldelev 2 was the largest of the cargo and warships discovered at the site, it was also the least preserved, with only a quarter of its hull remaining. Experts have nonetheless been able to reconstruct how the ship was built, and through its building materials trace its manufacture back to the Dublin area in the 1040s. The replica will face two years of sea trials before it sails to Dublin in 2007.

Archaeologists at Ireland's National Museum have announced the "significant" and "exciting" discovery of a ninth-century Viking burial north of Dublin. The individual, most likely female, was buried with a bone comb and a bronze oval brooch of Scandinavian manufacture. Brooches also led to the discovery of England's first Viking burial ground in the village of Cumwhitton, near Carlisle. A metal detectorist who located two early-tenth-century copper brooches on a farm in the northwestern region alerted heritage officials to the find, which led to the eventual discovery at the site of six Viking burials. The bodies of the four men and two women have not survived, but archaeologists were able to associate weapons, spurs, and a possible bridle with four of the burials, and brooches, jewelry, and weaving equipment with the other two. The only other known Viking cemetery in England is a cremation ground in Derbyshire, where ashes were interred in pots and few artifacts survive.

© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America