Monday, July 20, 2009

Mass Grave from the Viking Wars

In England, archaeologists have unearthed a mass grave that may be the remains of a troop of Viking raiders defeated and captured by the Saxons:

It was a scene familiar from the killing fields of Iraq or the Balkans, but unheard of in rural Dorset. As the earth-moving machine peeled back a thin layer of topsoil, it exposed a tangled mass of human bones.

Fifty-one young men had been decapitated with swords or axes before their bodies were tossed into a pit. The heads were neatly stacked to one side.

Radio-carbon dating suggests that they were killed between 890 and 1034, when the South of England was pillaged by Viking raiders from Scandinavia. A month after the discovery archaeologists are beginning to piece the story together. . . .

Marks on the skulls, jaws and vertebrae showed where the heads had been hacked off, sometimes taking many blows.

Nothing else has been found in the grave so far. Mr Score said: “You might expect them to have been stripped of weapons and jewellery before execution, but the fact we haven’t found so much as a bone toggle suggests they were naked when they were executed.”

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