Thursday, April 29, 2010

Viking necklace discovered in Ireland

An 1150-year-old Viking necklace has been discovered in a cave in Burren National Park, which is located in western Ireland. The discovery has surprised archaeologists, as their has been little evidence of Norse settlements in this region.

The find was announced this week by Dr. Marion Dowd, an archaeologist from the Institute of Technology Sligo, who is leading the excavation of Glencurran cave in the Burren National Park. She said to reporters, "The necklace is the largest Viking necklace to have been found in Ireland. Normally, Vikings necklaces that have been found have five to six glass beads, but this has 71 glass beads covered with gold foil."

She added "It is really bizarre how this necklace from a high-status Viking came to be in a cave in the Burren. There is no parallel for it in Ireland and it is puzzling on a number of fronts. The necklace would have been imported into Ireland from Scandinavia in the late 9th and early 10th century.

"Small numbers of these beads have been found with Viking burials at Kilmainham, Dublin, but nothing like the number found in Glencurran Cave. Such necklaces were worn by high-status Viking women and they might denote a woman's cultural and religious affiliations. These were certainly prestigious items."

Dr Dowd believes that the 9th century necklace may have come to Irish town of Limerick, and from there was sold or traded to Gaelic chieftains living in Burren.

The Burren National Park is small in size, approximately 1500 hectares in size. The cave is located in a remote site in the Burren National Park and according to Dr Dowd "has been the site of important archaeological discoveries since 2004. It is the largest cave excavation in Ireland and the finds have been enormously significant."

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Sources: Irish Times, Irish Herald, Independent