In the Tales of Ragnar’s sons, there was a group of elite warriors who formed the “Viking Great Army” to invade Anglo-Saxon as revenge for the death of Ragnar Lothbrok. This army also appeared in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The Viking Great Army left no trace of their movement, leaving the future generation with doubt and mysteries. And it was not until the end of the 20th century that archaeologists unearthed a burial mound that they believed belonged to the Viking Great Army Grave.
The Viking Great Army Grave and the History
In 873, the Viking Great Army landing their ship attacked the monastery in Repton forcing the King of Mercia to exile to Paris. They set up their puppet king and stood behind to control the kingdom. According to some sources, it was Ivar the Boneless (one of Ragnar’s sons) that stood behind this and he earned more for being the tax collector.
Roughly 1 millennium years later, the modern archaeologists happened to discover the mass burial in Repton. The site was around the St Wystan’s Church in Repton that they made the excavation.
With the remains and items they found inside the mass burial, the archaeologists concluded it was the Viking Great Army grave. The excitement, however, didn’t last long as the result of the radiocarbon dating told that the remains were over 100 years older than the time the Viking Great Army appeared (around the end of the 9th century).
As time progresses, the archaeologists studied the remains again. And this time, the result turned out to be a good news. The old result was incorrect. And the remains the former archaeologists found in Repton dated back to the time of Viking Great Army.
It was because of their marine diet
The warriors of the Great Army were the seafarers during their time. So they definitely consumed more marine food than the land-grown one. This made the result of radiocarbon dating go wrong.
Dr Catrine Jarman from the University of Bristol, bio-archaeologist and writer specializing in the Viking Age, said that the archaeologists just realized where the problem lay.
The scientists often look at the amount of radiocarbon to see how old was the bone. The radiocarbon is something that decays over time which helps the archaeologists. But as to the people who consumed so much seafood, they would suffer the phenomenon of marine reservoir effect. This phenomenon will affect the carbon dating process.
For example, if the Vikings killed a sheep and a fish on the same day. The carbon dating would make the fish seem like they had died 400 years earlier than the sheep.
Dr Jarman when saying to the media was so excited to say that the bones belonged to the 9th century definitely matching the time of the Viking Great Army.
The Remains of the Warriors
The mass Viking Great Army Grave contained remains of 264 warriors. Eighty percent of the warriors’ remains belonged to the men. And all of them suffered many physical injuries when alive.
The archaeologists found out many of the warfare weapons inside the grave. For example, sword and axe with the Viking style were found.
Moreover, some warriors’ remains inside still wore the pendant resembling the Mjolnir hammer.
The archaeologists and researchers on the Viking Age agreed to carry on checking the DNA. This would help to see which ethnic did the remains belong to.