Axe of Iron series

stacks_image_507 stacks_image_443 Assimilation

Dorset burial pit Viking had filed teeth

Archaeologists reported an interesting discovery near Dorset, UK, with the excavation of a 10th century burial pit that contains the remains of 54-Viking warriors. The supposition is that they were executed and thrown into the pit for disposal.


July 07, 2011

Archaeologists have discovered one of the victims of a suspected mass Viking burial pit found in Dorset had grooves filed into his two front teeth.

Experts believe a collection of bones and decapitated heads, unearthed during the creation of the Weymouth Relief Road, belong to young Viking warriors.

During analysis, a pair of front teeth was found to have distinct incisions.

Archaeologists think it may have been designed to frighten opponents or show status as a great fighter.

Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: "It's difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience.

"The incisions have been very carefully made and it is most likely that they were filed by a skilled craftsman.

"The purpose behind filed teeth remains unclear but, as we know these men were warriors, it may have been to frighten opponents in battle or to show their status as a great fighter."

Multiple wounds

The burial pit, found in 2009, contained 51 skulls and 54 bodies.

Many of the executed men suffered multiple wounds inflicted by a sharp blade, including one skeleton with six cut marks to the back of the neck.

Dorset County Council senior archaeologist Steve Wallis said radiocarbon dating showed they come from about AD970 to 1025.

Mr Wallis said those dates fell within the period of Viking raids on the Anglo Saxons in the UK, and isotope analysis of teeth found in a severed jaw suggests they were from the Nordic countries.

He said: "It's great that the burial pit on Ridgeway is still surprising us and teaching us more about who these men may have been and what they may have been like.

"It is very rare that this kind of deliberate dental modification is found in European remains, although it is often found in cultures from around the world, so that it was found in an excavation in Dorset is fantastic."

Book Review - Axe of Iron: The Settlers

See the latest review of the epic historical fiction novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers.

Check out the website for the latest information on the second novel in the Axe of Iron series, Axe of Iron: Confrontation, to be published this summer.

Book #2 in the Axe of Iron Series

Axe of Iron: Confrontation, the second book of the adventure packed Axe of Iron series nears completion. Publication target date remains June 2009. An excerpt from this book, and other helpful information about my books, may be found under the 'Books' tab on my website.

You came here because of your interest in the medieval Vikings. Don't miss my past blogs on the subject.

Thank you for coming by.

Best Regards,
J. A. Hunsinger

Assimilation Between Greenland Norse and Arctic Natives?

Some of the many unanswered questions about the Greenland Norse: did they assimilate with the natives of the Canadian Arctic?

If so, when and with whom?

We can never know for certain, but by about 1425 all had disappeared from the Greenland settlements. As I have mentioned previously, they were not seen again. They disappeared: no bodies, no ships, no tools, nothing related to them has ever been found.

Two distinct Arctic native cultures are involved with the Greenland Norse, the Dorset, or Tuniit people, and later in about the 13th century, the Thule, or Inuit people migrating from what is now the western Canadian Arctic regions.

In support of my contention that a gradual process of assimilation with these native cultures of the Arctic. and the natives of North America, began early in the history of the Greenland Norse settlements I make reference to numerous Norse artifacts found in medieval Thule dwelling sites on the east coast of Ellesmere Island and Skraeling Island, at the head of Alexandra Fjord on Ellesmere's east coast.

I do not mean the odd spindle whorl, ship rivet, broken needle fragment, or a couple links of chain mail. There are too, many artifacts to list here: a complete carpenters plane, iron wedge, ship rivets, knife and spear blades, wool wadmal cloth, numerous pieces of chain mail(all thought to have a common origin), odd gaming pieces, and so forth. These artifacts have been carbon dated to the mid-13th century.
Ellesmere - Vikings in the Far North, Peter Schledermann, 1977-1980. Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga, William Fitzhugh and Elizabeth Ward, (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 2000)248-256.

So, the answer to the question is obvious. The Greenland Norse did regularly contact the native peoples of the Arctic and that contact was prolonged and intimate, because the artifacts were found in Thule house ruins.

Those particular Norse people had already assimilated.
Comments (1)