51 Viking raiders found beheaded in an English pit

It’s not yet confirmed that they were Viking raiders, but evidence suggests that the 51 skeletons unearthed near Weymouth, on the southern coast of England, were a raiding party who encountered unexpectedly effective Saxon opposition and paid for it with their heads.

(And their clothes. They were found nekkid.)

Many of the skeletons have deep cut marks to the skull and jaw as well as the neck. “The majority seem to have taken multiple blows,” Score said.

The bodies show few signs of other trauma, suggesting the men were alive when beheaded.

One victim appears to have raised an arm in self-defense: “The hand appears to have had its fingers sliced through,” Score noted.

The heads were neatly piled to one side of the pit, perhaps as a victory display, the team suggests.

The burial dates to sometime between 890 and 1034 AD, which was peak Viking longship era.

The method of burial suggests that the locals did the killing, because Viking raiders didn’t drop the raiding to carefully stack heads and bury the enemy dead. They killed and kept on raiding, leaving bodies in their wake.

The location of the burial — atop a hill by the main road to Weymouth — also supports the theory that the deceased were killed by the people who lived there.

A chemical analysis of the dead guys’ teeth should confirm whether they were grew up in Scandinavia or England, and a closer analysis of the bones will reveal what kind of muscle development the strapping youths had.

If, for instance, their bones show evidence of overdeveloped arms and shoulders, that would suggest they were oarsmen.

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12 Comments »

Comment by Hans
2009-07-31 13:46:15

Sounds like it’s the entire crew of a longboat or two. Tangled with the wrong Saxons by all appearances.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-31 14:27:49

Yup. It wasn’t just a skirmish either, because the nudity and executions suggests the Vikings surrendered before getting the chop.

 
 
Comment by Hans
2009-07-31 15:00:33

It had to take some time to decapitate 51 of them- apparently some at least were not bound by the defensive wounds. It must have been quite a spectacle for those present.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-31 15:42:25

For sure. The stacked heads alone must have been well worth the price of admission.

 
 
Comment by Dina
2009-08-01 14:31:16

Gruesome.
I’ll pass on that dig.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-08-01 22:35:43

:skull: :skull: :skull: :chicken: :skull:

(I threw the chicken in just for you.)

 
 
Comment by samarkeolog
2009-08-02 01:40:03

Cool. Cruel. Hanging. Cool.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-08-02 02:08:17

Well Nicely Adequately put. :giggle:

 
 
Comment by Nav3ta
2010-07-18 21:41:23

:no: poor vikings.

well it wasent helpfull for my school assinment, but it was an interesting read. must of been gory. very gory.
:skull: :skull: :skull:

Comment by livius drusus
2010-07-18 21:51:56

I gather you were Googling up some info for homework? What was your assignment?

 
 
Comment by Stan Smith
2010-09-25 07:07:41

If this was done by locals; which I have no reason to doubt by the way they were buried, they must have been prepared for the raiders since 51 is a lot of dead Vikings.

“…were a raiding party who encountered unexpectedly effective Saxon opposition and paid for it with their heads” makes sense since I find it hard to believe a bunch of farmers carrying pitchforks and rakes could have done this.

Are there any updates for this story? I would love to read more about this discovery and related findings.

Comment by livius drusus
2010-09-25 10:36:38

There was an update earlier this year: Confirmed: beheaded warriors were Vikings. Isotope analysis of their teeth definitely identified the deceased as Scandinavian men primarily between the ages of 18 and 25 (there were a few older individuals). Radiocarbon dating narrowed the age range down to between 910 and 1030 A.D.

 
 
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