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Viking trade connections stretched to Arctic Scandinavia

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An analysis by researchers from the University of York has revealed Viking trade routes between northern Scandinavia and the edges of continental Europe.

The study focuses on trade connections from the town of Hedeby, an important trading settlement during the Viking Age near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula in Germany.

Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (who was in the service of Charlemagne), but was probably founded around AD 770.

Hedeby’s prominence as a primary trading hub can be attributed to its strategic geographical positioning along the pivotal trade routes connecting the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia in the north-south direction, as well as the Baltic and the North Sea in the east-west direction.

The town was also a major centre of antler-working, with 288,000 antler finds recorded to date, most of which are waste material from the production of hair combs.

A ZooMS analysis of the collagen in the combs has revealed that 85-90% of the combs were made from reindeer antler during the 9th century AD. The combs or antlers were imported from northern Scandinavia, indicating new evidence for contact between Hedeby and the northern outlands in central and northern Scandinavia.

Dr Steven Ashby, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: “The work at Hedeby is particularly interesting, as it tells us about connections between the mountains of upland or arctic Scandinavia and this large town at the gateway to continental Europe, and points to a window in the 9th Century when these northern links must have been particularly strong.”

The paper ‘In the footsteps of Ohthere: biomolecular analysis of early Viking Age hair combs from Hedeby (Haithabu)’ is published in Antiquity Journal.

University of York

https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.118

Header Image Credit : Mariana Muñoz-Rodriguez

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Archaeology

Giant catapult shots discovered from siege of Kenilworth Castle

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Archaeologists have uncovered eight 13th century catapult shots from the 1266 siege of Kenilworth Castle.

Kenilworth Castle, located in the town of Kenilworth in Warwickshire, England, is both a semi-royal palace and historic fortress.

Founded in the 1120s, the castle was the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne and the Earl of Leicester’s reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

During the First Civil War (1642 to 1646), Kenilworth formed a useful counterbalance to the Parliamentary stronghold of Warwick. Following the defeat of royalist forces, Parliament ordered the slighting of Kenilworth 1649, leaving the castle a romantic ruin and popular tourist attraction over the centuries.

Recent works to improve a pathway on castle grounds has led to the discovery of eight giant catapult shots. According to the archaeologists, the shots date from the Siege of Kenilworth (1266), a six-month siege of the castle during the Second Barons’ War.

The conflict was between a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort (who had custody of Kenilworth Castle) against the royalist forces of King Henry III, and later his son, the future King Edward I.

Image Credit : English Heritage

According to historical accounts, the siege was the largest to occur in Medieval England and involved numerous “turres ligneas” (wooden towers), trebuchets, and catapults which fired the giant shots.

The shots are of varying sizes, with the largest weighing 105 kg and the smallest just 1 kg. “’These would have caused some serious damage when fired from war machines. Records show that one of Henry III’s wooden siege towers, containing around 200 crossbowmen, was destroyed by just one well-aimed missile,” said Will Wyeth, English Heritage’s Properties Historian.

Header Image Credit : English Heritage

Sources : English Heritage

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Sappers clear over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII

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A team of sappers under archaeological supervision have cleared over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII on the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland.

Situated at the mouth of the Dead Vistula on the Baltic Sea coast, the peninsula was the site of the Battle of Westerplatte, one of the initial clashes between Polish and German forces during the invasion of Poland in WWII.

The Polish garrison held out for seven days, repelling thirteen German assaults. The battle became a symbol of Polish resistance, tying up substantial German forces at Westerplatte and preventing over 3,000 German soldiers from providing fire support in the nearby battles of Hel and Gdynia.

Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk led the clearing of the Westerplatte area, working in conjunction with soldiers from the 43rd Naval Sapper Battalion, the Engineer Battalion Sapper Company from the 2nd Sapper Regiment from Kazuń Nowy, and a team of archaeologists to supervise and document any archaeological material.

The clearance works have uncovered over 4,700 dangerous objects in the duration of the project along with 180 historical artefacts.

“To date, specialists have penetrated an area of ​​over 13.5 hectares, resulting in the discovery of over 4,700 dangerous objects, including 3 air bombs, one of which weighing 500 kg was located only 30 cm below the ground surface ” – said the head of the Archaeological Department of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Filip Kuczma.

Some of these objects include almost 200 artillery shells, mortar and hand grenades, and small arms ammunition. Other WWII objects include elements from the soldier’s uniforms, lead seals, and parts of the railway infrastructure in Westerplatte.

The team also uncovered cannonballs, musket shells, coins, decorative stove tiles, and ceramics from the time of the War of the Polish succession (1733 to 1738) and the Napoleonic period (1799 to 1815).

Header Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

Sources : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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