While American WNs fantasize about Vikings, and they were great warriors, they were also thieves, pillagers, kidnappers and rapists.
Their Christian opponents, the Anglo-Saxons, often defeated them in battle and massacred Viking prisoners in extreme anger for their CRIMES.
Unfortunately, in 1066 a bunch of them, called Normans, prevailed withJewish money and conquered England with incredible brutality. England was utterly transformed by the extermination of its native ruling class and its replacement by pirates, rapists, and pillagers.
The 54 skeletons were all of males, almost all aged from their late teens to around 25 years old, with a handful of older individuals. They had all been killed at the same time with a large, very sharp weapon such as a sword.
They had not been cleanly killed, as many of them had suffered multiple blows to the vertebrae, jawbones and skulls. One man had his hands sliced through, suggesting that he had attempted to grab the sword as it was being swung towards him.
They had no obvious battle wounds and were most likely captives. Judging from the lack of any remains of clothing or other possessions, they had probably been naked when they were thrown into the pit. There are more bodies than skulls, suggesting that a couple of the heads – perhaps of high-ranking individuals – were kept as souvenirs or put on stakes.
The executions were initially thought to have occurred around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain circa AD 43, but radiocarbon dating of the remains found that they dated to some time between AD 910 to 1030. An analysis of teeth from ten of the skeletons was carried out by the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, part of the British Geological Survey.
This found that the men had come from Scandinavia, with one thought to have come from north of the Arctic Circle, and had eaten a high protein diet comparable with human remains found at known sites in Sweden.
The dead men were all of fighting age and were killed a long way from home. Several theories have been advanced for how they ended up at Ridgeway Hill. At the time of their deaths, England was the scene of conflict between native Saxons and invading Vikings.
It was initially suggested that the men might have been Saxons killed by Vikings or by other Saxons, but later analysis has showed that the men came from Scandinavia. The site of the burial is thought to have been a formal spot, and it is possible the execution may have taken place in front of an audience.
In the National Geographic documentary Viking Apocalypse, Dr Britt Baillie has suggested that the executions may have been linked to the St. Brice’s Day massacre, or that the Viking men were executed by their own kind for defection.
The Vikings were no strangers to Dorset. The local town of Wareham oldest features are the town walls, ancient earth ramparts surrounding the town, likely built by Alfred the Great in the 9th century to defend the town from the Danes as part of his system of burh towns.
The Danes invaded and occupied Wareham in 876, and only left after Alfred returned with an army and made a payment of Danegeld. In 998 they attacked again, and in 1015 an invasion led by King Canute left the town in ruins. The town was a Saxon royal burial place, notably that of King Beorhtric (d. 802).
Also in the town at the ancient minster church of Lady St. Mary is the coffin said to be that of Edward the Martyr, dating from 978. His remains had been hastily buried there and were later taken from Wareham to Shaftesbury Abbey in north Dorset (and now lie in Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey).
Dorset’s Viking mass grave skeletons on display in London
About 50 skeletons were found in an old quarry pit at Ridgeway Hill, in Dorset, in 2009, during the construction of the Weymouth relief road.
All had been decapitated – their bodies were thrown into shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.
Some of the skeletons have now gone on display at the British Museum in London.
At the time, archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology said it was one of the “most exciting and disturbing” archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years.
Subsequent scientific analysis of the skeletons concluded that it was a mass grave of executed Vikings.
This picture shows how close the grave was found to the relief road.
The excavation combined traditional archaeological methods with “revolutionary” digital and three-dimensional recording to identify the exact position of each individual.
The skeletons were removed and experts undertook forensic laboratory-based studies to find out what circumstances led to their dramatic and gruesome demise.
Oxford Archaeology said the results suggested the burial took place at the time of, or shortly after, the men’s execution which had probably been performed at the graveside.
They estimated that between 47 and 52 individuals were present.
The men may have been stripped of their clothes prior to burial, but were unbound.
Archaeologists said defence wounds on the hands, arms and skulls imply that not all men died without a struggle.
Wounds to necks and shoulders indicate that the process of decapitation was no less chaotic, and in some cases several blows of the sword were required to remove the heads.
This picture slows a clean cut through the jaw of one of the skeletons.
Most of the men were found to be 18-25 years old. The youngest was in his early or mid teens, while the oldest was over 50.
One had “deliberately filed teeth”, which Oxford Archaeology said may have been a symbol of status or occupation.
Chemical analysis of the teeth suggested that none of the men were from anywhere in Britain, but that they originated in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Baltic States, Belarus and Russia.
Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: “To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development.
“Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual.”
Many of the individuals suffered from infections and physical impairment, and none showed convincing evidence for previous war wounds – hardly the picture of an elite group of Viking warriors.
The burial was radiocarbon dated to AD 970-1025, which places it in the reign of Aethelred the Unready or Cnut the Great.
This was a time in England of Viking raids, war, hostages and retribution, but experts admit that ultimately questions of how the men came to be in Dorset remain open.
Experts said this picture shows sharp force peri-mortem trauma one some of the bones.
Vikings: life and legend will run until 22 June.
Elements of the exhibition, including the skeletons, will then move to the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin from September to January 2015.
The remains will then return to Dorset and go on show at the county museum, where they will form the centrepiece of its newly refurbished £350,000 Ancient Dorset gallery of archaeology.