Viking Ghost Crew

i-62cba227fcd54e1213b05027a6e761cc-_47457244_oxfordarchaeology_1870.jpgLast June a well-preserved mass grave was found near Weymouth in Dorset, southern England. It contained the skeletons of 51 decapitated young men and later-teen boys. At first the burial was dated through the inclusion of Roman-era potsherds. The pit itself had originally been a Roman quarry. But now some of the skeletons have been radiocarbon-dated and ten have been analysed for stable isotopes. As it turns out, the date is most likely 10th century and the men came from Scandinavia. Looks like a Viking raiding party that had bad luck. An interesting and very unusual find! It sort of lets us board a Viking ship and have a rare look at its crew. The ship from the Gokstad barrow has 32 oar holes and it’s always good to take on some replacement oarsmen.

Thanks to Tim of the Walking the Berkshires blog and Roger Wikell for the tip-off.

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5 thoughts on “Viking Ghost Crew

  1. Hey,

    I am quite interested in the method used to find out where do they come from. Does anybody have some knowledge about the link between drinking water and the teeth analysis?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. Peter, I don’t know about skeletal trauma here, I’ve only seen newspaper stories.

    Mousseron, I forget which elements do what, but if you look at the ratios of various isotopes of strontium and oxygen and sulphur you get a pretty good pinpoint of where a person has livet. One of them maps to the age of the bedrock, another to the distance from the sea.


  3. The analysis is ongoing, so there will be more information published later. The preliminary analysis showed some trauma, but I have only seen the rough notes, so I’m afraid you (and me) will have to wait for the proper write-up.


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