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.
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