Viking Ghost Crew

i-62cba227fcd54e1213b05027a6e761cc-_47457244_oxfordarchaeology_1870.jpgLast June a well-preserved mass grave was found near Weymouth in Dorset, southern England. It contained the skeletons of 51 decapitated young men and later-teen boys. At first the burial was dated through the inclusion of Roman-era potsherds. The pit itself had originally been a Roman quarry. But now some of the skeletons have been radiocarbon-dated and ten have been analysed for stable isotopes. As it turns out, the date is most likely 10th century and the men came from Scandinavia. Looks like a Viking raiding party that had bad luck. An interesting and very unusual find! It sort of lets us board a Viking ship and have a rare look at its crew. The ship from the Gokstad barrow has 32 oar holes and it's always good to take on some replacement oarsmen.

Thanks to Tim of the Walking the Berkshires blog and Roger Wikell for the tip-off.

[More blog entries about , , ; , , .]

More like this

As an undergrad and PhD student in the 90s I heard a lot of rumours about the 1988-93 excavation of Gullhögen, a barrow in Husby-Långhundra parish between Stockholm and Uppsala. These rumours held that the barrow was pretty weird: built out of charcoal (!), unusually rich, and sitting on top of…
The Oseberg ship burial of Norway is a mind-blowing find, full of Early Viking Period carved woodwork and textiles of unparalelled quality. Dated by dendrochronology to AD 834, the long ship and its contents were sealed under a clay barrow, perfectly preserved when excavated in 1904. I consider…
Members of the Manx Detectorists Society have found fragments of the hilt of a Viking Period display sword. It's cast in bronze with rich Borre Style decoration (c. AD 850-1000) and silver wire frills. Though settled by the Norsemen from about AD 800 onward, the island has not previously produced…
Here's something new in burial archaeology! In 2008 a cremation burial of the Pre-Roman Iron Age was excavated at Skrea backe near Falkenberg in Halland province. It's unusually rich for its time, being housed in a continental iron-and-bronze cauldron and containing three knives, an awl and 5.3…

Hade de några skador efter strid, det fanns större båtar en Gokstad skeppet

By Peter Ryddberg (not verified) on 15 Mar 2010 #permalink


I am quite interested in the method used to find out where do they come from. Does anybody have some knowledge about the link between drinking water and the teeth analysis?

Thanks in advance.

By Mousseron (not verified) on 15 Mar 2010 #permalink

Peter, I don't know about skeletal trauma here, I've only seen newspaper stories.

Mousseron, I forget which elements do what, but if you look at the ratios of various isotopes of strontium and oxygen and sulphur you get a pretty good pinpoint of where a person has livet. One of them maps to the age of the bedrock, another to the distance from the sea.

The analysis is ongoing, so there will be more information published later. The preliminary analysis showed some trauma, but I have only seen the rough notes, so I'm afraid you (and me) will have to wait for the proper write-up.

Thanks Lena!

It struck me that decapitation might look a bit traumatic to some observers. (-;