Viking isotope dating
Archaeologists first stumbled upon the Dorset burial pit in June 2009 while supervising roadwork near the town of Weymouth.Careful excavation by the company Oxford Archaeology exhumed 51 skulls, which were found in one area of the pit, and 54 bodies, which had been thrown haphazardly into another section.Next, an isotope analysis raised the startling possibility that the decapitated men were Scandinavians—possibly a band of Vikings systematically executed by the native Britons they had set out to conquer.And this week, researchers announced their latest intriguing find: a pair of front teeth with deep horizontal grooves that may be one of the few examples of dental modification ever unearthed in Europe.Since its 2009 discovery in the English county of Dorset, a 1,000-year-old burial pit thought to contain the remains of headless Viking warriors has yielded one surprising find after another.First, radiocarbon dating revealed that the remains were interred during the late Saxon era, much later than archaeologists initially thought.But radiocarbon dating suggested the burial had occurred much more recently, between roughly 9 A. “The time period we’re now looking at is one of considerable conflict between the resident Saxon population and invading Danes,” project manager David Score explained.
The excavated village contains traces of up to 400 farm buildings, including several longhouses that would have each formed the center of a family farm."The significance is in the size of the site — it makes it possible for us to test the knowledge that we already have," Balsgaard Juul told Live Science."We have an idea of how the society developed at this time and how these villages developed, but now it is actually possible for us to test whether we can recognize these features in a large excavation such as this," she said."We usually say that these types of houses have a duration of at least 30 years, so it means that some areas of this village were inhabited for a very long time." The ancient village included between eight and 10 longhouses at different times, each around 110 feet (33 meters) long and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide.Each longhouse would have been the main building of a family farm, and home to between eight and 15 people, she said.
Based on the distinctive shapes of the buildings, researchers have dated the remains to between A. 300 to 600 — a time known as the early medieval period in Europe, during the Germanic Iron Age in Denmark.