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Saxons slaughter Vikings – Weymouth, 10th Century…

March 12, 2010

I spent many years on archaeological excavations (endless roadschemes) around Britain and further afield and, as any digger will tell you, it’s not too often that you find something worthy of that endless question ‘What’s the best thing that you’ve ever found?’. But Oxford Archaeology diggers on the south coast in Weymouth, excavating in advance of a relief road for the 2012 London Olympics, did just that last summer – they found a pit containing 51 skulls beside the bodies of 51 souls.

Judging by the hacking wounds across heads, chests, arms and hands, this wasn’t a cold, orderly execution of a captured enemy. This was brutal, bloody slaughter that shouts out vengeance. There were no diagnostic remains from clothes or ornament – these men, and they were all very young men, were stripped naked. The clues to their identity came from their bones and teeth. Carbon dating and chemical analysis demonstrated that the 51 men weren’t Roman, they weren’t Briton or Saxon – they were Viking and their execution (to put it politely) dated between 910 and 1030 AD. A time when Viking raids were at their height.

But in this piece of Dorset, the Saxons grabbed the upper hand with the result that we can now see the other side of the struggle – the marauders, raiders and pillagers are the ones in the pit. History gets a reminder that events don’t always follow what the writers of histories would have us believe.

More here.

Sorry for the delay in posting – I normally write about film and the Oscars have a way of sucking away all one’s time…

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