Experts begin analysis of rare Viking burial site in Orkney

Secrets of life more than 1000 years ago are being unlocked by archaeologists.

Experts begin analysis of rare Viking burial site in Orkney PA Wire

Archaeologists have started analysing artefacts found on an ancient burial site in Orkney to unlock secrets of Viking life in Scotland more than a thousand years ago.

Two graves discovered on the northeast coast of Papa Westray in 2015 are being subject to scientific techniques including bone and genetic analysis and radiocarbon dating, said Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Items found include evidence of a rare Viking boat burial and a grave furnished with weapons including a sword, and experts have indicated the ancient remains may be those of first-generation Norwegian settlers on Orkney.

Specialists from Glasgow-based AOC Archaeology hope to gain new insights into the life and death of Vikings in Orkney during the tenth century, said HES, which is funding the post-excavation work.

HES said it will also work with the Ancient Genome Project “to undertake genetic analysis of the discoveries to determine further information about the individuals in the graves, including genetic ancestry and sex, as well as to gain information on their diet and mobility”.

Dr Kirsty Owen, deputy head of archaeology at HES, said: “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.

“We look forward to sharing our findings as the analysis continues, which we hope will enhance our understanding of the rich Viking heritage of Orkney and reveal more about the people who lived on these islands over one thousand years ago.”

Dr Ciara Clarke, deputy managing director of AOC Archaeology, said: “The programme will help us to understand these individuals, their lives and their culture, telling us more about life in Orkney during the tenth century.

“We will be able to compare and contrast the evidence to other Scottish examples, as well as to similar sites from across the wider Viking world.”

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