Wealthy Vikings wore blue linen underwear

From ThorNews: Research: Wealthy Vikings Did Wear Blue Linen Underwear.

It is hard to imagine Eric Bloodaxe and other feared Viking kings and chieftains wearing blue linen underwear. However, if the research carried out at the University of Bergen is correct, we should get used to the idea.

Textile fragments from Viking graves in the counties of Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Hordaland in Western Norway have now been analyzed.

Research carried out by textile conservator Hana Lukešová and professor of nanophysics Bodil Holst at the University of Bergen has produced remarkable results: Vikings did use linen underwear, often dyed blue. [continue]

New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England

From Science Nordic: New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England.

The Vikings plundered, raided, and eventually reigned over a large part of what is modern day England. But exactly how many Danish Vikings migrated west and settled down in the British Isles?

In 2015, a large DNA study sparked a row between DNA scientists and archaeologists after concluding that the Danish Vikings had a “relatively limited” influence on the British—a direct contradiction to archaeological remains and historical documents.

“We see no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation and control of a large part of England,” write DNA scientists in a study published in the scientific journal Nature in 2015.

A new study has reignited the debate by claiming that somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 Vikings relocated to England. [continue]

Searching for California’s lost Viking ship

From Newsweek: Searching for California’s Lost Viking Treasure Ship.

In the rugged Colorado Desert of California, there lies buried a treasure ship sailed there hundreds of years ago by either Viking or Spanish explorers. Some say this is legend; others insist it is fact. A few have even claimed to have seen the ship, its wooden remains poking through the sand like the skeleton of a prehistoric beast.

Among those who say they’ve come close to the ship is small-town librarian Myrtle Botts. In 1933, she was hiking with her husband in the Anza-Borrego Desert, not far from the border with Mexico. It was early March, so the desert would have been in bloom, its washed-out yellows and grays beaten back by the riotous invasion of wildflowers. Those wildflowers were what brought the Bottses to the desert, and they ended up near a tiny settlement called Agua Caliente. Surrounding place names reflected the strangeness and severity of the land: Moonlight Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, Indian Gorge.

To enter the desert is to succumb to the unknowable. One morning, a prospector appeared in the couple’s camp with news far more astonishing than a new species of desert flora: He’d found a ship lodged in the rocky face of Canebrake Canyon. The vessel was made of wood, and there was a serpentine figure carved into its prow. There were also impressions on its flanks where shields had been attached—all the hallmarks of a Viking craft. Recounting the episode later, Botts said she and her husband saw the ship but couldn’t reach it, so they vowed to return the following day, better prepared for a rugged hike. [continue]

Viking ship ready for Atlantic voyage

From TheLocal.no: All aboard! Nordic Viking ship ready for Atlantic voyage.

The world’s largest Viking ship in modern times is about to set sail across the Atlantic.

Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century, the ship’s Swedish captain Björn Ahlander was originally supposed to have ordered the great dragon vessel to weigh anchor from Avaldsnes in Norway’s Haugesund on Sunday, but the departure was delayed by bad weather.

And time is of the essence. Following in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson, the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship has a long journey ahead, taking a route via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland before it finally drops anchor in the United States.

“We’ve got one month because the only gap, if you don’t want to battle low pressure and harsh winds, is May. That’s your chance to make it across,” Ahlander told the Swedish news agency TT on Monday. [continue]

No wool, no Vikings

From No wool, no Vikings.

Gray clouds hang low over the Trondheim Fjord, a huge, convoluted indentation in the central Norwegian coast. A gusting wind blows the tops off the waves, tosses rain in my face, and fills Braute’s great square sail. It heels over, water splashing over its leeward gunwale and through the oar-ports, soaking everyone on that side of the long, open, Viking-style wooden boat.

Braute is sailing out from Fosen Folk High School, located in Rissa, on the north shore of the fjord. I’m sharing a hard wooden bench with some of the school’s students—mostly young Norwegians, with a sprinkling of foreigners. They’ve just spent nine months studying traditional skills that date back to the Viking Age, from boatbuilding and sailing to traditional farming and wool working.

On this, the last trip of the school year, we’re heading for Utsetøya, a little island near the mouth of the fjord. That’s where the school’s small flock of sheep, which provides both meat and wool, runs wild for most of the year, hemmed in only by the sea. Most of Fosen’s student body is crammed aboard Braute and two other Viking-style boats, along with staff, food, mounds of camping gear, and one shivering Canadian journalist. The plan is to camp on the island for several nights, check on the flock, and collect next year’s supply of raw wool.

It’s the end of May, but it’s cold. Viking life must have been like this—frigid, wild days in an open boat, constantly watching the waves and clouds to avoid disaster. Wool was as much a part of that life as the sea and the ships. The Vikings were great sailors and fearsome warriors, but they couldn’t have left port without wool. It provided the raw material for their clothes, their blankets, even the sails that harnessed the wind for their ships. [continue]

This ancient liquor popular among Vikings may be the answer to antibiotic resistance

From Business Insider: This ancient liquor popular among Vikings may be the answer to antibiotic resistance.

Scientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter’s Elixir.

Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health.

“Mead is an alcoholic drink made with just honey and water, and it was regarded as the drink of the gods and you could become immortal or sustain a better health if you drank it,” Olofsson said. “It was drunk by the Vikings for example and other cultures such as the Mayas, the Egyptians, and it was a drink that was regarded as a very beneficial drink.”

Honey production is key to the research. In previous research published in 2014, Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez discovered that lactic-acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees, mixed with honey itself, could cure chronic wounds in horses that had proved resistant to treatment.

They said their research had proved that these bacteria had the power to collaborate and kill off all the human pathogens they have been tested against, including resistant ones. They are doing so by producing hundreds of antibacterial antibiotic-like substances. [continue]

Well. Alcohol + Vikings + history + medicine. So much cool stuff in one article!

1,000 years on, perils of fake Viking swords are revealed

From The Guardian: 1,000 years on, perils of fake Viking swords are revealed.

It must have been an appalling moment when a Viking realised he had paid two cows for a fake designer sword; a clash of blade on blade in battle would have led to his sword, still sharp enough to slice through bone, shattering like glass.

"You really didn’t want to have that happen," said Dr Alan Williams, an archaeometallurgist and consultant to the Wallace Collection, the London museum which has one of the best assemblies of ancient weapons in the world. He and Tony Fry, a senior researcher at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, south-west London, have solved a riddle that the Viking swordsmiths may have sensed but didn’t quite understand.[continue].

Vikings preferred male grooming to pillaging

From The Telegraph: Vikings preferred male grooming to pillaging.

The Vikings are traditionally known for leaving destruction in their wake as they travelled around Europe raping, pillaging and plundering.

But Cambridge University has launched a campaign to recast them as "new men" with an interest in grooming, fashion and poetry.

Academics claim that the old stereotype is damaging, and want teenagers to be more appreciative of the Vikings’ social and cultural impact on Britain.

They say that the Norse explorers, far from being obsessed with fighting and drinking, were a largely-peaceful race who were even criticised for being too hygienic.

The university’s department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic has published a guide revealing how much of the Vikings’ history has been misrepresented.

They did not, in fact, [continue]

Excavated burials reveal the Viking world-view

From Media Newswire: Excavated burials reveal the Viking world-view.

Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.

Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.

The research also showed that Viking funerals involved complex elements of mortuary theatre — ritual plays which were literally performed at the graveside.

Detailed analysis of the burials revealed the sheer variety of objects found alongside the bodies — from everyday items to great longships and vehicles such as wagons and sleds, together with animals of many different species and even human sacrifices. [continue]

‘Viking mouse’ invasion tracked

From the BBC: ‘Viking mouse’ invasion tracked.

Scientists say that studying the genes of mice will reveal new information about patterns of human migration.

They say the rodents have often been fellow travellers when populations set off in search of new places to live — and the details can be recovered.

A paper published in a Royal Society journal analyses the genetic make-up of house mice from more than 100 locations across the UK.

It shows that one distinct strain most probably arrived with the Vikings. [continue]

Viking Age triggered by shortage of wives?

From discovery.com: Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women. [continue]

Ancient suspects cleared in Viking mystery tale

From the Edmonton Journal: Ancient suspects cleared in Viking mystery tale.

It’s the oldest whodunit in Canadian history, and new research has conclusively ruled out one of the suspect aboriginal groups behind the retreat of Viking would-be colonists from the New World.

A scientific redating of the eastward migration of the Thule — ancestors of modern-day Inuit — has pegged their push across Canada’s polar frontier to no earlier than AD 1200. That’s at least 150 years after Norse voyagers from Greenland are believed to have abandoned their short-lived, 11th-century settlement at the northern tip of Newfoundland following hostile encounters there, and in Labrador, with native inhabitants they called Skraelings.

Because of their relatively late arrival in northern Canada — originally set by experts at about AD 1000 — the Thule (pronounced "too-ley") have always been outside contenders in the long-running quest to identify the people who scared the Vikings out of Canada. [continue]

Irish Viking trade centre unearthed

From the Beeb: Irish Viking trade centre unearthed.

One of the Vikings’ most important trading centres has been discovered in Ireland.

The settlement at Woodstown in County Waterford is estimated to be about 1,200 years old. (…)

Almost 6,000 artefacts and a Viking chieftain’s grave have been discovered at the site, which was established by the year 860. The grave contains a sword, shield and silver mark. [continue]

Viking blood in England

From Science Daily: Viking Blood Courses Through Veins Of Many A Northwest Englander.

The blood of the Vikings is still coursing through the veins of men living in the North West of England — according to a new study.

Focusing on the Wirral in Merseyside and West Lancashire the study of 100 men, whose surnames were in existence as far back as medieval times, has revealed that 50 per cent of their DNA is specifically linked to Scandinavian ancestry.

The collaborative study, by The University of Nottingham, the University of Leicester and University College London, reveals that the population in parts of northwest England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, about the same as modern Orkney.

I loved the place name section of this article:

After their expulsion from Dublin in 902AD the Wirral Vikings, initially led by the Norwegian Viking INGIMUND, landed in their boats along the north Wirral coastline. Place names still reflect the North West’s Viking past. Aigburth, Formby, Crosby, Toxteth, Croxteth are all Viking names — even the football team Tranmere is Viking. Thingwall is the name of a Viking parliament or assembly (Thingvellir in Iceland) and the only two in England are both in the North West — one in Wirral and one in Liverpool. [continue]

Viking ship ‘buried beneath pub’

From the BBC: Viking ship ‘buried beneath pub’.

A 1,000-year-old Viking longship is thought to have been discovered under a pub car park on Merseyside.

The vessel is believed to lie beneath 6ft to 10ft (2m to 3m) of clay by the Railway Inn in Meols, Wirral, where Vikings are known to have settled.

Experts believe the ship could be one of Britain’s most significant archaeological finds.

Professor Stephen Harding, of the University of Nottingham, is now seeking funds to pay for an excavation.

The Viking expert used ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment to pinpoint the ship’s whereabouts.

He believes the vessel could be carefully removed and exhibited in a museum.

Professor Harding said: "The next stage is the big one. Using the GPR technique only cost £450, but we have to think carefully about what to do next. [continue]

Viking treasure hoard uncovered

Goodness. Here’s an image of the Viking hoarde unearthed in Yorkshire. Can you imagine digging that up in your neighbourhood? (The worst thing about living in Canada is that I know I’ll never find any Viking or Roman artifacts lying about the place.) Here’s the story from the BBC: Viking treasure hoard uncovered.

The most important Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire.

David and Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th Century, in Harrogate in January.

The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery was "phenomenal". [continue]

Danish replica of Viking ship sets sail for Ireland

From the CBC: Danish replica of Viking ship sets sail for Ireland.

A 30-metre replica of a Viking longship glided out of Denmark’s Roskilde fjord Sunday, with 65 crew members determined to sail the ship across the North Sea and around Scotland to Ireland.

Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche was among the roughly 4,000 people watching the Sea Stallion of Glendalough begin the attempt to relive the perilous journey its Viking forebear made 1,000 years ago.

The ship is billed as the world’s biggest and most ambitious Viking ship construction.

It was modelled after a warship excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde fjord after being buried in the seabed for nearly 950 years. [continue]

Giant Viking longship to sail across North Sea to Ireland

From the International Herald Tribune: Giant Viking longship to sail across North Sea to Ireland.

ROSKILDE, Denmark: On the skipper’s command, deckhands hauled in tarred ropes to lower the flax sail. Oars splashed into the water. The crew, grimacing with strain, pulled with steady strokes sending the sleek Viking longship gliding through the fjord.

A thousand years ago, the curved-prow warship might have spewed out hordes of bloodthirsty Norsemen ready to pillage and burn.

This time, the spoils are adventure rather than plunder.

The Sea Stallion of Glendalough is billed as the world’s biggest and most ambitious Viking ship reconstruction, modeled after a warship excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde fjord after being buried in the seabed for nearly 950 years. Now it is preparing for a journey across the legendary Viking waters of the North Sea — leaving Roskilde in eastern Denmark on July 1 and sailing 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) to Dublin, which was founded by Vikings in the 9th century. [continue]

Viking ship to retrace route

From iol.co.za: Viking ship to retrace route.

An 11th century Viking longship that has been entirely restored to its original condition will cross the North Sea this summer powered only by its sails, a Danish Viking ship museum said on Tuesday.

The ship will leave Roskilde, Denmark, where the museum is located, on July 1 and is expected to arrive in Dublin on August 14, project leader Preben Rather Soerensen said.

"This is a new challenge. We used the tools the Vikings used to rebuild the Havhingsten fra Glendalough and now we are going to test the ship’s resistance," he said.

Sixty-five sailors will man the 30m vessel, which will [continue]