Scottish storms unearth 1,500-year-old Viking-era cemetery

Scottish storms unearth 1,500-year-old Viking-era cemetery

Scottish storms unearth 1,500-year-old Viking-era cemetery

Newly discovered remains from a 1,500-year-old cemetery at the islands of the Orkney, A series of storms in the United Kingdom. an archipelago on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, This would raise curiosity among archaeologists.

But experts now like to stop the site being completely swept away, according to STF News.

Volunteers repairing damage to the Viking burial ground. (Amanda Brend / ORCA)

The cemetery is situated on the coast of Newark Bay and some time has been known to archaeologists. According to Tom Metcalfe The site removed 250 skeletons of 50 years ago and hundreds more are still thought to be buried there.

The Cemetery was used  at least between  the 550 to 1450 A.D. The cemetery cover two key periods of habitation on Orkney: first by the Picts, a confederation of tribes that once ruled northern Scotland, and then Norse Vikings, who in the eighth century started to colonize Orkney.

Soft boulder clay makes up the terrain along this windswept coast, and erosion due to the elements is an ongoing issue.

Structural and human remains have been missing in decades since the site was first excavated, According to (ORCA) the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology.

With the continual procession of bad weather we have experienced in the past few months, the site is under constant threat of further destruction,” explains Pete Higgins, senior project manager at ORCA, to STV News.

The Ring of Brodgar with Loch of Harray in the background at Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland.

The human remains revealed by recent storms will be collected and moved to a safe location. Local volunteers, along with staff and students from the University of the Highlands and Islands, are keeping an eye on the cemetery and have laid sandbags to prevent further flooding.

“We know that the sandbags are not the answer to protecting the site in the long term,” says the university in a statement, “but they provide some protection.”

Archaeologists are particularly interested in the Newark cemetery because it may hold insights on an important transitional period. The presence of Norse people on the islands is well documented—by the end of the ninth century, a Norse settlement was firmly established in the area—but the nature of the takeover is unclear.

No records left by ordinary Picts who were colonized by the Vikings exist, but Scandinavian sources suggest that Orkney may have been deserted by the time the invaders arrived—or, alternatively, that it was violently purged of its inhabitants.

A lack of battle sites on the islands, however, has led some to conclude that Orkney’s indigenous peoples integrated, relatively peacefully, into the culture of the colonizers.

Reconstructed grave from a Viking burial ground in Orkney. An exhibit in the National Museum of Scotland.

The cemetery offers “one of the few opportunities we’ve got to investigate” this little-understood chapter of Scottish history, Higgins tells Live Science.

Last year, ORCA announced that it had secured funding to study the hundreds of skeletons that have already been extracted from the cemetery—a project that will include genetic testing of the bones.

Salvaging the site from further erosion continues to be a priority. Efforts have involved bolstering the area with sandbags and rocks, as well as covering exposed bones with clay to protect them.

Sometimes, Higgins tells Live Science, the best way to safeguard the skeletal remains is to remove them from the site after recording their position. Without ongoing work to protect it, says Higgins to STV News, this centuries-old cemetery could disappear “within a few short years.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *