Illerup Ådal in Jutland is known for one of Denmark’s largest and most well-excavated war booty sacrifices, most of it dating from the early 3rd century AD. (See my recent entry about the similar Swedish site Finnestorp.) As I’ve learned from my friend Tim Olsson’s new book about such sites, there’s a second find spot at Vædebro, right where the Illerup stream empties into Lake Mossø, a few kilometres from the war booty site. The artefact finds here are few, but the bones of 25-30 people were found about 1960, mainly robust men, some with battle wounds. And now the Vædebro site has exploded thanks to limited new excavations!
My buddy Martin Skoglund tipped me off about the sensational new find at Vædebro. Danish colleagues has opened a small trench and found the remains of
about 200 people! beyond comparison the largest find so far of probable battle dead to whom the sacrificed war booty has belonged. Scientific analyses of these bones (dating, geological point of origin…) will allow the war booty field to make a huge advance. Already one radiocarbon date points to the 1st century AD, which suggests that not all of the bodies have anything to do with the big weapon sacrifices.
For almost 150 years, Scandy archaeologists have tried to make sense of these defeated Iron Age armies from their beautifully preserved gear. Never have we really dreamed of finding the dead guys themselves like this. My heartfelt congratulations to project director Ejvind Hertz of Skanderborg Museum and his team!