Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Archaeological research reveals new insights about the Vikings in Wales

Recent excavations by archaeologists from the National Museum Wales at the Viking age settlement of Llanbedrgoch on the east side of Anglesey have shed important new light on the impact of Anglo-Saxon and Viking-age worlds operating around the Irish Sea.

The new discovery of a skeleton in a shallow grave and the unusual (during this period in Wales) non-Christian orientation of the body, and its treatment, point to distinctions being made in the burial practices for Christians and other communities during the tenth century.

The burial is an unexpected addition to a group of five (two adolescents, two adult males and one woman) discovered in 1998-99. Originally thought to be victims of Viking raiding, which began in the 850s, this interpretation is now being revised. Stable isotope analysis by Dr Katie Hemer of Sheffield University indicates that the males were not local to Anglesey, but may have spent their early years (at least up to the age of seven) in North West Scotland or Scandinavia. The new burial will provide important additional evidence to shed light on the context of their unceremonious burial in shallow graves outside the elite fortified settlement in the later tenth century.

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