in case a demon pops out: ‘Viking sunstone’ found in shipwreck
A crystal found in a shipwreck could be similar to a sunstone – a mythical navigational aid said to have been used by Viking mariners, scientists believe.
The team from France say the transparent crystal may have been used to locate the Sun even on cloudy days.
This could help to explain how the Vikings were able to navigate across large tracts of the sea – well before the invention of the magnetic compass.
However, a number of academics treat the sunstone theory with scepticism.
Not new for here, already linked to these things here and here.
Which would be a horrendous waste of beer, IMO: Archaeologists Mistake Viking Brewhouses For Bathhouses
For years, archaeologists studying Viking remnants and artifacts in Britain had assumed that certain stone structures were bathhouses, or a kind of primitive sauna. But a husband-and-wife team has now thrown this thinking into question by suggesting that they weren’t bathhouses at all — that they were brewhouses where the Vikings made their beer.
Archaeologists know that Vikings loved their ale; the Sagas contain a slew of references. And in the 10th century, Haakon Haroldson, the first Christian king of Norway, decreed that Yule be celebrated on Christmas day and that “every farmstead should brew two meals of malt into ale.” In fact, brewing ale was so important that there were fines for non-compliance; failure to brew beer for three years in a row could result in the forfeiture of a farm.
Can’t really comment, but it makes more sense to me than a bath house, mainly because I’ve never heard of Vikings having bath houses. PDF of the poster is here, BTW.
Archaeologists Find Clues to Viking Mystery
It must have been difficult for the bride and groom to recognize each other in the dim light of the church. The milky light of late summer could only enter the turf-roofed church through an arched window on the east side and a few openings resembling arrow slits. After the ceremony, the guests fortified themselves with seal meat.
The marriage of the Icelander and the girl from Greenland was one of the last raucous festivals in the far northern Viking colony. It all ended soon afterwards, when the last oil lamps went out in the Nordic settlements in Greenland.
Here’s the key paragraph, IMO:
Although the descendants of the Vikings had adjusted to life in the north, there were limits to their assimilation. “They would have had to live more and more like the Inuit, distancing themselves from their cultural roots,” says Arneborg. “This growing contradiction between identity and reality was apparently what led to their decline.”
Jared Diamond used this in his analysis of failures, although he argued that they refused to take up the Inuit lifestyle when this suggests that they had done so to a large extent. That doesn’t really count as a ‘failure’ in my book, more of a fairly conscious decision to retain their cultural heritage.
New information from Nanook site on Baffin Island confirms that this was a Viking settlement. Viking-like architecture, drainage patterns, a whale-bone sod-cutting hoe, yarn, and other material culture was found at the site, but now new evidence makes a Viking presence all the more likely. Sharpening stones found at this site have traces of bronze, brass, and smelted iron in the groves of the artifacts. Such metallurgy is only associated with Vikings and not with the native peoples of the area. This would make the site on Baffin Island only the second recognized Viking site on the mainland of North America.
(The location of Baffin Island is shown in red — quite close to the former Greenland colonies)
For an earlier Archaeoblog posting about this site, click here.
And a fine time to think about Norse sites in North America. L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, has been a recognized Viking settlement since the 1960s.
L’Anse aux Meadows (an on-site reconstruction of a sod structure)
Since then, a few isolated finds of Norse or Norse-influenced objects have been reported (such as a Medieval Norse coin from the Goddard Site in Main, or the AVM runestone from Minnesota) – some are deemed Native American items, the product of culture contact/trade, while others come from questionable contexts, or have been confirmed to be modern materials (hoaxes). A site that has recently gotten some attention is the Nanook site on Baffin Island – this site contains several typically Norse materials — spun yarn, whet stones, notched tally sticks, sod/stone houses, and a rock-lined drainage system. This makes the either a medieval Norse site (like L’anse aux Meadows) or an anomalous/atypical (i.e. Norse influenced) Dorset culture site. DNA testing on a tooth at the site was tantalizingly inconclusive.
For a summarized news story on the Nanook site from the Winnipeg free press:
For a more in-depth consideration of Norse influences (and the Nanook site materials), go to Dr. Sutherland’s online in-depth analysis: http://www.civilization.ca/research-and-collections/research/resources-for-scholars/essays-1/archaeology-1/patricia-sutherland/dorset-norse-interactions-in-the-canadian-eastern-arctic
Bornais finds shed light on Iron Age and Viking life
Powerful figures from the late Iron Age through to the end of the Vikings were drawn to a sandy plain on South Uist, according to archaeologists.
Bornais, on the west side of the island, has the remains of a large farmstead and a major Norse settlement.
The area has produced large numbers of finds, including what have been described as exotic items from abroad.
Green marble from Greece, ivory from Greenland and bronze pins from Ireland have been among the finds.
Couple of items of the usual “ritual significance”. . . .
Viking’s Most Powerful City Unearthed in Northern Germany
According to Niels Ebdrup reporting at ScienceNordic, archaeologists working in northern Germany may have found one of the most important cities in Viking history—Sliasthorp, where once sat the first Scandanavian kings.
“[H]istorians have doubted whether Sliasthorp even existed. This doubt is now starting to falter, as archaeologists from Aarhus University are making one amazing discovery after the other in the German soil.
Original story is here (which is a very good article).
Viking axe find in Slimbridge discounted by archaeologists
An axe head found in a garden in Gloucestershire, which was claimed to be of Viking origin, is an 18th Century woodworking tool, experts have said.
It was found in 2008 by Ian Hunter Darling under a hedge at his home in Slimbridge.
Slimbridge Local History Society who said last week it was Viking have now renamed it the “Slimbridge axe head”.
Weird because it was found in 2008, been on display for six months, the original story was just a few days ago and now comes the doubts.
Viking axe head discovery is ‘evidence of battle’
A Viking axe head found in a Gloucestershire village could be evidence of a battle more than 1,100 years ago, according to archaeologists.
The wrought iron object, found in Slimbridge in 2008, has now been identified as being of Viking origin.
Historians say a band of Vikings sailed up the River Severn and fought against the Anglo-Saxons in 894 AD.
Check for blood residue!
Skeletons found in Dorset mass grave ‘were mercenaries’
A mass grave in Dorset containing 54 decapitated skeletons was a burial ground for violent Viking mercenaries, according to a Cambridge archaeologist.
The burial site at Ridgeway Hill was discovered in 2009.
Archaeologists found the bodies of 54 men who had all been decapitated and placed in shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.
Carbon dating and isotype tests revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and dated from the 11th Century.