The burial site of six
Viking men and women, complete with swords and spears, jewellery, firemaking materials and riding equipment, has been
The site, which is believed to date from the early tenth century, was unearthed following the discovery by a local metal detectorist of two Viking Age copper brooches. The grave of a Viking woman was found beneath the brooches. She had been buried with a wooden chest at her feet, which x-rays may determine holds weaving equipment. Further excavation led to the discovery of the graves of another woman and four men 10 metres away from the first grave, all buried with their grave goods. The four men were buried with weaponry, two had firemaking materials, and one was buried with spurs, a possible bridle and what is thought to be the remains of a drinking horn. The female Viking was buried wearing a magnificent jet bracelet on her left wrist and with a copper alloy belt fitting, amongst other goods.
The sandy soil of the area means that while the bodies have decomposed, their equipment had remained exactly where it was buried over a thousand years ago, providing a unique opportunity to excavate a Viking Age cemetery under twenty first century conditions.
Local metal detectorist Peter Adams reported his find via the Portable
Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the
Describing the site, local PAS representative Faye Simpson said:
“This was a haunting find. When I first saw the excavated graves,
complete with artefacts but the bodies of those buried long decomposed, it
seemed as though the people buried there had indeed followed in the footsteps
of their ancestors and gone to
Arts Minister Estelle Morris said: "We should all be grateful to Mr Adams who recorded his find so promptly. As a result, the experts have been able to learn more about this fascinating site, and uncover the secrets of a time capsule more than a thousand years old.
"Community projects like the Portable Antiquities Scheme help people throughout the country get involved in archaeology and local history. And museums benefit too, through this direct engagement with local experts.”
Mark Wood, Chair of the Museums, Libraries and Archive Council which manages the Portable Antiquities Scheme said: “This is tremendous news: a unique discovery which will improve people’s understanding of the area and its history. The museum community relies on members of the public to report archaeological treasures to our network of Finds Liaison Officers, and you can imagine how pleased we are when important finds of this nature are unearthed.”
Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, said: “This
incredible find provides rare archaeological evidence of the Vikings as
settlers who integrated themselves into English life. This exciting find
reveals the presence of the Vikings as a community group including woman and
challenges the war-lords stereotype as depicted by
“English Heritage is delighted to have been able to support this momentous discovery by funding the archaeological dig. Treasure hunting for its own sake can be damaging and can lead to the loss of valuable objects. We have been able to discover the secrets of this important site thanks to the responsible detective work of Peter Adams who reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. It is vital that the many other amateur archaeologists across the country continue to help us uncover new evidence of our archaeological past by following Peter’s admirable lead.”
Rachel Newman of Oxford Archaeology North said, ‘We could not have expected more from the excavation of the site. We knew the brooches found by Mr Adams came from a burial of a Viking Age woman, which was exciting and of great importance in itself, but we did not expect to find five other graves complete with such a splendid array of artefacts. It truly has been an amazing few months excavating this extremely important Viking Age site’.
Finder Peter Adams said, “Finding the brooches was just the beginning. By detecting alongside the archaeologists I was also able to locate a sword hilt which led to the second, and main, excavation and the discovery of all six graves. Faye Simpson, our Finds Liaison Officer, did a fantastic job pulling all the resources together to make this excavation possible. Her dedication, together with the archaeologists on site, enabled us all to learn so much from what is the find of a lifetime for me.”
For more details visit http://www.finds.org.uk/news/newsarticle.asp?id=217 or the finds website www.oxfordarch.co.uk/vikingburial
Press event: A press event will be held at
Faye Simpson, Portable Antiquities Scheme - Finds Liaison Officer (Cumbria & Lancashire)
Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman, English Heritage
Andrew Davison, English Heritage Inspector of
Alan Lupton, Operations Manager at
Rachel Newman, Director of
Tim Padley, Keeper of Archaeology, Tullie House
Peter Adams, local metal detector, and finder of the site.
A reconstruction drawing of one of the graves will be on view.
To attend the press call please contact
Photos and images
Print quality images including a reconstruction
drawing will be available from PA Picselect at www.papicselect.com under DCMS/PAS folder. For more images
Viking burial sites in England
The only other known Viking cemetery in
About the Portable Antiquities Scheme
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is the largest community archaeology project this country has ever seen. It was established in 1997 to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by the public and to broaden public awareness of the importance of such finds for understanding our past.
The data recorded - itself an important educational resource - is published on the Scheme's website (www.finds.org.uk) allowing public access to over 60,000 records and over 21,000 images of finds, as diverse as prehistoric flints to post-medieval buckles - and new finds are going online everyday.
The Portable Scheme is managed by a consortium of
national bodies led by Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), and
includes the British Museum, English Heritage, the National Museums &
Galleries of Wales (NMGW) and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and
Historical Monuments of Wales, together with the Association of Local
Government Archaeological Officers, the Council for British Archaeology, the
National Council for Metal-detecting, the Society of Museum Archaeologists and
the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The major funding partners
of the Scheme are the Heritage Lottery Fund, the DCMS, MLA, the
English Heritage (www.english-heritage.org.uk) is the Government's lead body for the historic environment. Funded partly by the Government and in part from revenue earned from its historic properties and other services, English Heritage aims to increase the understanding of the past, conserve and enhance the historic environment and broaden access and appreciation of heritage.
As the national archaeology service for
MLA (the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council)
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the sector. MLA's roles are to provide strategic leadership, to act as a
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people to knowledge and
Oxford Archaeology (www.oxfordarch.co.uk) is an
educational charity with a Board of Trustees and has over 30 years of
experience in professional archaeology and are the largest employer of
archaeologists in the country (we currently have more than 200 members of staff).
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Established by Carlisle Corporation in 1893,
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comprise Cumbrian Prehistory; Roman Cumbria (especially
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