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A Viking Mystery

25 September 2010

David Keys, in the Smithsonian magazine (see www.smithsonian.com Sept 24th), the October issue, has a report on the archaeology discovered beneath an Oxford College when the foundations for new student housing were being dug out. An earthwork enclosure, or henge, some 400m in diameter was found but for some reason it is called a temple or a religious complex. Various pits with sherds of broken pottery and food debris suggest that much later the site was used as a rubbish dump. Digging deeper they found human bones – piled on top of each other in a mass grave, some 38 individuals who had been the victims of violence. Bone analysis and C14 methodology came up with a date of around AD900 and the bone indicated they had a fish diet. They have been identified as Viking warriors.

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