Decapitated skeletons were Vikings: scientists

March 12, 2010
The Weymouth burial pit of skulls and bones. Dozens of decapitated skeletons which were uncovered during an excavation in Dorset were those of 1,000-year-old Vikings, scientist said.

Dozens of decapitated skeletons have been unearthed in southern England believed to be those of 1,000-year-old Vikings, scientists said Friday.

The macabre discovery in June of a neatly stacked pile of skulls next to a mass of male bones in a burial pit near Weymouth, on the southern English coast, sparked speculation about who the victims were.

Scientists from NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory analysed food and drink from the teeth of 10 of the 51 skulls and found it highly likely that the unfortunate men came from .

It is believed that the raiding Vikings were slaughtered in public by local Anglo-Saxons between AD 910 and AD 1030.

"The isotope data we obtained from the burial pit teeth strongly indicate that the men executed on the Ridgeway originated from a variety of places within the Scandinavian countries," said NERC scientist Jane Evans.

"These results are fantastic. This is the best example we have ever seen of a group of individuals that clearly have their origins outside Britain," she added.

Oxford Archaeology members have been painstakingly uncovered the pit, which was found during investigative excavation work for an £87 million relief road.

"The find of the burial pit on Ridgeway was remarkable and got everyone working on site really excited," Oxford project manager David Score said.

"To find out that the young men executed were is a thrilling development," he added.

"Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual and presents an incredible opportunity."

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Mar 12, 2010
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1.5 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2010
I'd bet that the "young men" who were executed were not too pleased about the event. Who speaks for them? They stand as an affront to our dilettante, temporal arrogance at best. At worst, they cater to the voyeurism tendencies in ourselves.
5 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2010
The "young men" had their heads cut off because they were burning down Anglo-Saxon villages, killing Anglo-Saxon men and raping Anglo-Saxon women. Had they stayed home, they would have kept their heads.
not rated yet Mar 12, 2010
now that they have good dates on this a good follow up would be to have a look at the weather around that time.maybe they came south to trade for food and were set on and killed rather than traded with.we really have no idea what went on.more of an exam on the remains might show old wounds revealing that they were raiders or on the other hand just malnourished refugees..
not rated yet Apr 08, 2010
It would be easier to make a refugee case, if we did not have such extensive evidence that the Scandinavians systematically terrorized their southern neighbours, during their Viking phase.

Hopefully there will be more details from the mass grave, to help address some of the dangling questions.

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