Human remains found in ancient graves discovered to belong to Vikings

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SCOTTISH archaeologists have begun post excavation work on an ancient Viking burial site after discovering human remains.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is funding a post excavation analysis on two recently discovered Viking graves that may form part of a previously unknown cemetery uncovered in Orkney.

Human remains were discovered in 2015 on the northeast coats of Papa Westray and further investigations revealed they were remains of Viking age burials.

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Photo by Historic Environment Scotland. The project will include a detailed programme of osteological work (bone analysis) and radiocarbon dating to help determine the age of the remains

Dr Kirsty Owen, Deputy Head of Archaeology at HES, said “We are delighted to be funding the work on this exciting project with AOC Archaeology, which we hope will shed new light on the Viking communities in Orkney during the 10th century.

“Many of the Viking burial sites we know of in Orkney were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th century, meaning that we have a rare opportunity to investigate this discovery with the cutting-edge methods and techniques available to us today.

Many other rare artifacts were discovered in the excavation including evidence of a rare viking boat burial and a second grave full of weapons including a sword.

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Photo by Historic Environment Scotland. HES will be updating on progress and results regularly throughout the year as the work continues.

Similarities with the type of burials and grave furnishings to those previously uncovered suggest the Papa Westray graves may be those of first-generation Norwegian settlers on Orkney.

Archaeologists from AOC Archaeology are now working to analyse the discovery using a range of cutting-edge scientific techniques, with the hope of gaining new insights into the life and death of the Viking community in Orkney during the 10th century.

HES will also be working with the Ancient Genome Project to undertake genetic analysis of the discoveries to determine information including genetic ancestry and sex, as well as gaining information on diet and mobility.