Mass grave dates from Viking Era

Related Articles

Archaeologists from the Anthropology and Archaeology department at the University of Bristol has revealed that a mass grave discovered in the 1980s dates from Viking era thanks to Radiocarbon dating.

Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon (14C), a radioactive isotope of carbon.

The study has shown that the burial site dates from the late 9th century, roughly the same time when the “Great Heathen Army” wintered in Repton, Debyshire and campaigned across Mercia.

 

The burial site was excavated at St Wystan’s Church in Repton in the 1970s and 1980s by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle. They uncovered several Viking graves and the mass burial site of around 300 bodies beneath a shallow charnel mound within a ruined Anglo-Saxon building.

Previous attempts at dating the mass burial created conflicting results with a mix of dates and ages.

Project leader Cat Jarman said: “The previous radiocarbon dates from this site were all affected by something called marine reservoir effects, which is what made them seem too old.

When we eat fish or other marine foods, we incorporate carbon into our bones that is much older than in terrestrial foods.

This confuses radiocarbon dates from archaeological bone material and we need to correct for it by estimating how much seafood each individual ate.”

Adjacent to the charnel mound, another grave site containing four juveniles placed in a single grave also suggests a connection to the Vikings. Carbon dating places the burial around 872-885 CE and is believed by Archaeologists to be a ritual grave for sacrificial killings to accompany Viking dead.

Cat Jarman added: “The date of the Repton charnel bones is important because we know very little about the first Viking raiders that went on to become part of considerable Scandinavian settlement of England.

“Although these new radiocarbon dates don’t prove that these were Viking army members it now seems very likely. It also shows how new techniques can be used to reassess and finally solve centuries old mysteries.”

University of Bristol

Header Image Credit : One of the female skulls from the Repton charnel. CREDIT Cat Jarman

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Virtual Interactive Environment of Ancient Egyptian Temple of Abu Simbel

The Great Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel in Egypt has been digitally scanned to create a virtual interactive high-resolution environment.

Historical Document Details Martyrdom of Japanese Christian Retainers 400 Years Ago

In Japan, the suppression of Christianity increased from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th century, and many missionaries and Japanese believers were martyred during this period.

Archaeologists Discover Ornate Roman Domūs in Central Nîmes

Archaeologists conducting excavations in the French city of Nîmes have discovered the remains of two high status Roman domus (houses).

How Did Dogs Get to the Americas?

The history of dogs has been intertwined, since ancient times, with that of the humans who domesticated them.

First DNA Extracted from Modern, Ancient and Fossil Tropical Shells

In Wonderland, Alice drank a potion to shrink herself. In nature, some animal species shrink to escape the attention of human hunters, a process that takes from decades to millennia.

Medieval Containers Hint at Thriving Wine Trade in Islamic Sicily

Researchers at the University of York have found chemical residues of grapes in medieval containers indicating a prosperous wine trade in Islamic Sicily.

Kangaroo Painting Thought to be 17,300 Years Old

A two-metre-long painting of a kangaroo in Western Australia's Kimberley region has been identified as Australia's oldest intact rock painting.

Ani – The Abandoned Medieval City

Ani is a ruined medieval city, and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present-day Turkey.

Popular stories

Ani – The Abandoned Medieval City

Ani is a ruined medieval city, and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present-day Turkey.

Interactive Map of Earth’s Asteroid and Meteor Impact Craters

Across the history of our planet, around 190 terrestrial impact craters have been identified that still survive the Earth’s geological processes, with the most recent event occurring in 1947 at the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of south-eastern Russia.

The Sunken Town of Pavlopetri

Pavlopetri, also called Paulopetri, is a submerged ancient town, located between the islet of Pavlopetri and the Pounta coast of Laconia, on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.

Exploring the Avebury Stone Circle Landscape

The area was designated part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites by UNESCO in 1986, in recognition for one of the most architecturally sophisticated stone circles in the world, in addition to the rich Neolithic, and Bronze age remains found nearby, such as the West Kennet Avenue, Beckhampton Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary, and Windmill Hill.