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Grave of headless Vikings discovered in England

 
 
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 02:08 pm
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/science/03/12/viking.olympics/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn



London, England (CNN) -- They were 51 young men who met a grisly death far from home, their heads chopped off and their bodies thrown into a mass grave.

Their resting place was unknown until last year, when workmen excavating for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, England, unearthed the grave. But questions remained about who the men were, how long they had been there and why they had been decapitated.

On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men's teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.

"To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development," said David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology, which excavated the remains. "Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual and presents an incredible opportunity to learn more about what is happening in Dorset at this time."

Radiocarbon dating had already placed the remains between A.D. 890 and 1030, before the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England.

(more at link)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 21 • Views: 14,418 • Replies: 225

 
Walter Hinteler
 
  3  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 02:18 pm
@Merry Andrew,
http://i40.tinypic.com/90ayir.jpg
Source: report in the local paper
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 02:37 pm
God, academics are getting to be as bad as the press. Viking is an activity, not a nationality. It's a very interesting find, certainly. However, i wish it were reported with more precision.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 02:56 pm
@Setanta,
Right you are, Set. I hesitated before upper-casing 'viking' in the headline. But concession to accepted useage won out.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 02:58 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Thanks for that very interesting photo, Walter.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:18 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Quote:
But concession to accepted useage won out.


Merry Merry, that's likely to get you booted out of your prescriptivist club.

I'm puzzled. How might Setanta be "right"?
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:23 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

Quote:
But concession to accepted useage won out.


Merry Merry, that's likely to get you booted out of your prescriptivist club.

I'm puzzled. How might Setanta be "right"?


1. I wasn't aware of being a member of any such "prescriptivist" club.

2. Setanta is correct in stating that the word 'viking' is properly not a noun but a verb. These people didn't call themselves Vikings. They were Scandinavian farmers of old who, in their spare time, went a-viking to supplement their income by either raiding or trading.
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:29 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Quote:
1. I wasn't aware of being a member of any such "prescriptivist" club.

2. Setanta is correct in stating that the word 'viking' is properly not a noun but a verb. These people didn't call themselves Vikings. They were Scandinavian farmers of old who, in their spare time, went a-viking to supplement their income by either raiding or trading.


How could you even consider writing 2 after you wrote 1, Merry?

For a moment I thought you had an actual reason for suggesting that Setanta was "right".
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  3  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:30 pm

It's been a noun ever since I've known it (which is rather a long time) no matter what its origin may be.

Ask Kirk Douglas if you don't believe me.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:39 pm
Jesus, that movie had Ernest Borgnine and Tony Curtis, too . . . how very undiscriminating of you, McT . . .

That viking has become a noun simply through usage does not alter that it does not describe a nationality, but rather an activity. Saying viking and attempting to suggest that this represents a nationality is somewhat akin to saying farming, and then claiming that tells us who you are talking about.
McTag
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:46 pm
@Setanta,

Erm....not so sure.

The word conjures up the image "armed seaborne raiders from (countries which became) Norway and Denmark"

which I think is more or less the same thing, is it not?

Was not "nationality" in those times a less cut-and-dried concept than it is today, more fluid?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:49 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
That viking has become a noun simply through usage does not alter that it does not describe a nationality, but rather an activity. Saying viking and attempting to suggest that this represents a nationality is somewhat akin to saying farming, and then claiming that tells us who you are talking about.


Imagine that, words changing form through usage. What a novel idea!

Viking, as opposed to v
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 09:26 pm
Setanta is right. The origin of the word Viking is the verb a-viking. That a in front of the word is prob the source of the quaint English folk song a-verbs, as in "go a-wandering." The wiki article beats around the bush about "a-viking" and never mentions it outright, but the idea of a-viking is a few paragraphs down.

Those beheaded men probably met with some Celtic warriors, armed with long swords.

Try this:

Head hunting
Celts had a reputation as head hunters. According to Paul Jacobsthal, "Amongst the Celts the human head was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of the emotions as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world."[65] Arguments for a Celtic cult of the severed head include the many sculptured representations of severed heads in La Tène carvings, and the surviving Celtic mythology, which is full of stories of the severed heads of heroes and the saints who carry their decapitated heads, right down to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where the Green Knight picks up his own severed head after Gawain has struck it off, just as St. Denis carried his head to the top of Montmartre.
A further example of this regeneration after beheading lies in the tales of Connemara's St. Feichin, who after being beheaded by Viking pirates carried his head to the Holy Well on Omey Island and on dipping the head into the well placed it back upon his neck and was restored to full health.
Diodorus Siculus, in his 1st century History had this to say about Celtic head-hunting:
They cut off the heads of enemies slain in battle and attach them to the necks of their horses. The blood-stained spoils they hand over to their attendants and striking up a paean and singing a song of victory; and they nail up these first fruits upon their houses, just as do those who lay low wild animals in certain kinds of hunting. They embalm in cedar oil the heads of the most distinguished enemies, and preserve them carefully in a chest, and display them with pride to strangers, saying that for this head one of their ancestors, or his father, or the man himself, refused the offer of a large sum of money. They say that some of them boast that they refused the weight of the head in gold
In Gods and Fighting Men, Lady Gregory's Celtic Revival translation of Irish mythology, heads of men killed in battle are described in the beginning of the story The Fight With The Fir Bolgs as pleasing to Macha, one aspect of the war goddess Morrigu.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 09:40 pm
@plainoldme,
No, Setanta isn't right, POM.

It doesn't matter what the origin of a word is, [and there seems to be a great deal of divergence among dictionaries on this particular word's origin], it matters what parts of speech are available to us today.

This is exactly how a prescription starts; a know-nothing pedant making some hair-brained observation and folks leap on the wagon.
Merry Andrew
 
  0  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 10:07 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
It doesn't matter what the origin of a word is


What a classic JTT bullshit statement! Priceless.
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 02:25 am
Whatever, noun or verb, the Vikings are still present in Britain, e.g. the
"Viking house mice", and, of course ...



Wink
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 02:45 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Mice on a raid? Cool. Where do they get those cute little axes? Or, is it axen?
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 03:33 am
Viking is a noun but was in the Islantic saga also used as a verb now and then. He has gone viking, which meant the man was on sea. As a verb it has not been used since at least the middle ages.
We say one Viking or two Vikings.

(The Battle of Maldon) line 25
older English

þa stod on stæðe, stiðlice clypode
wicinga ar, wordum mælde,
se on beot abead brimliþendra
ærænde to þam eorle þær he on ofre stod:


Then on the bank stood a Viking messenger,
called out stoutly, spoke with words,
boastfully brought the seafarers' errand
to that land's earl where he stood on shore

Viking could also be used after a first name like Thyge Viking. Then it was meant as a compliment

The people sailing west were called vikings and the ones who sailed east väringar. In daily use we do not use the word väring in Swedish, but call them Vikings. Väringar came from Sweden and sailed eastward and the Danes and Norwegians westward as a rule.

As a rule a Viking was not an old farmer who in his spare time went off to sea.
It would not even have been possible to sail and raid just now and then and on the same time taking care of a farm.
The Vikings could be gone for years sailing

King Canute the Great
ca. 995 - 1035 King 1018 - 35

The viking warrior who created a North Sea empire consisting of Britain, Denmark, Norway and a part of Sweden.
Canute the Great was the son of Sweyn Forkbeard. His grandfather was Harald Bluetooth and his great-grandfather was Gorm the Old.
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 04:08 am
This map ...
http://i41.tinypic.com/242bcqp.jpg
(For larger image >CLICK<)

... shows where the Vikings have raided,settled and ruled - and from where they came.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 04:27 am
@McTag,
Although nationality as we conceive of it was not known at the end of the first millennium of our era, certainly language and custom were commonalities. The Norse (calling themselves Norge, and whom we would call Norwegians) were considerably different from the Goths (as the Swedes called themselves then). Those we call Danes were from several different tribes which coalesced over time, but they were never in any doubt about the use of a common language.
 

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