By now, you have probably heard about the new Viking discoveries that were revealed on the ‘Britain’s Viking Graveyard’ program from Channel 4 in the UK on Easter Sunday (April 21, 2019). If not, I am here to point you in the right direction to get all the information straight from the sources. I may not have a PhD, but archaeology is fascinating to me and I really get excited when new discoveries are announced. Below, I will provide information from the actual experts, so you can understand exactly what was found and catch everything you need to know in one spot.
Here are the two main highlights that were revealed:
1. DNA evidence for the first ever Viking Age father and son burial.
2. Brand new previously unknown Viking site that was discovered in England.
Over on Twitter Sunday night, Dr. Cat Jarman provided a great thread summarizing the news. This was especially helpful for people who didn’t see the program yet. Don’t worry US, it sounds like ‘Britain’s Viking Graveyard’ is coming to our televisions on PBS sometime next month! You can read what she had to say below, as I condensed her thread into one paragraph making it easy to read.
“With ancient DNA analysis we have found a first-degree relationship on the paternal side between Graves 511 (“The Repton Warrior”) and 295, who were buried side-by-side at the Great Army camp in Repton, Derbyshire, soon after 873 AD. Because of the ~20+ years age difference, this means they are most likely father and son. Double graves like this are common in the Viking worlds but a close family relationship has never been proven before. While DNA can’t in any way prove their identities, forensic details are a *very* good match to Olaf, Viking king of Dublin, (killed 874 in Scotland) and his son Eysteinn (killed 875 by Halfdan). Both with close links to the Great Army.”
You can follow Dr. Cat Jarman on Twitter: @CatJarman.
“In 2017, after I went on Digging for Britain with Professor Alice Roberts and Jon Mann they saw the programme and put me in touch with a metal detectorist who has been finding Viking artefacts near Repton. Turns out what he found was a MAJOR new site at Foremark, likely another Great Army camp contemporary with Repton that nobody knew about. The Scandinavian cremation cemetery at Heath Wood, excavated by Julian Richards is very close by. The name Foremark comes from a Scandinavian compound meaning ‘the old fortification.’ The clue was kind of in the name. As shown on Britain’s Viking Graveyard, my team and I excavated part of the site in October 2018 and found evidence of the Viking presence and an Anglo-Saxon settlement: maybe why the site was chosen in the first place. It also seems there was an ongoing Scandinavian presence here and in Repton: the crucial missing link between the first Viking raiders and permanent settlers?”
You can get more information on this by listening to a new episode of Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast with Dr. Cat Jarman. LISTEN HERE!
‘Britain’s Viking Graveyard’ captured a lot of attention this week, especially among the academics. Dr. Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, posted her own thoughts of the program on her blog that you can READ HERE.
Follow Dr. Judith Jesch on Twitter: @JudithJesch
In the program, you will also catch Professor of archaeology Howard Williams. He wrote up a nice piece on his blog of his participation during ‘Britain’s Viking Graveyard’, which you can READ HERE.
Follow Professor Howard Williams on Twitter: @howardmrw
Adam Parsons of Blueaxe Reproductions shared his thoughts during his time of filming the program as well. Adam is an archaeologist, who also makes beautiful reproduction artifacts. You can read his thoughts HERE.
To see more of Adam’s work follow him on:
If you are in the UK and happened to miss ‘Britain’s Viking Graveyard,’ you can still watch it on channel4.com.
If your interested in learning more about the Viking Great Army, here are a few papers that are free and open access:
I hope this helped you out in gaining everything you needed to know about the new Viking discoveries. Thanks to the incredible people I mentioned above, this documentary was a success and I look forward to even more information down the road from it. Keep an eye out for a paper coming soon from Dr. Cat Jarman, along with a new book releasing in 2020!