Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Viking burials in the news



I'd guess many of my readers have already heard about this, but I have to remark on the fact that Viking burials made the international news twice on September 10th. When was the last time that happened.

Students in Medieval England may be interested in the ship found under a pub car park (or a pub patio according to other accounts) in Merseyside in NW England. How it got there is still uncertain; so far archaeologists don't think it was put there as part of a funeral rite, as in some other cases. But the find is exciting anyway, because the ship is buried in bacteria-free blue clay and the wooden hull is well preserved. An interesting twist on the story is that is the second time this ship's been found. Back in the 30s there was digging going on in the pub basement and the workers discovered the ship. Their boss kept the find a secret to keep the archaeologists from getting in his way. It was the son of that builder who recently let the cat out of the bag.

You'll be hearing more about this over the next few years as the slow processes of investigation and preservation play out. I wonder how this will affect business at the Railway Inn?

The second burial is not a new one. In fact the story's about the exhumation of two women's bodies from the famous Oseberg ship in Norway. These bodies were found a long time ago (19th century) and reburied in an aluminum casket in 1948 to wait for future forensic technology. Now we are in the era of CSI, and scientists are seeing what they can learn. One point of particular interest is whether the older and younger women buried there were related. Some speculate that the younger woman may have been a slave killed to accompany her mistress to the other side. Such things are documented from pagan Viking times.

Image: The Gokstad ship as restored in Oslo.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Colin Archbell said...

It's almost a blessing that they did not let the ship be discovered in the 30's, at least now they can use solid modern technology to study the site instead of who-knows-what might have happened in the 30s.

4:30 PM  

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