It would take many years for the truth to come out. At first, the remains appeared to be a variety of bodies from several centuries.
With new information, it seems now that the grave may, in fact, be tied to 9th century Vikings.
This was not the case as researchers learned more about one factor they did not take into account early on. The fact that the people buried in the grave consumed large amounts of fish may have skewed the carbon dating results.
The act of skewing the carbon dating measures is called the “marine reservoir effect.” Over the last few years, scientists have figured out how to correct for errors in carbon dating tied to humans consuming fish instead of land animals.
In the case of the mass grave found in the 1980s, they are now saying that the grave is not a mix of hundreds of years of time. It is a large-sized mass grave for 300 missing members of the Viking Great Army.
The mass grave that is now being linked to the Vikings impact in England is a set of three graves. The entire site is located at St. Wystan’s Church in Repton, Derbyshire.
The first grave holds a small collection of remains. There are bodies of two adult males that now date back to the 9th century.
A short distance from the first grave, a burial plot holding four more bodies were found. These remains include the bodies of four young males. They were between 8 and 18 years of age.
The final and more telling part of this site is tied to the last burial site. There is a massive vault that holds about 300 sets of remains.
The mass grave vault is where the issue came up with carbon dating errors. At first many thought that the bodies were collected over the course of centuries because many of them came back with very different carbon dates.
With new developments in carbon dating and making adjustments for things like the marine effects, they now know that the 300 bodies all came from one distinct period.
The mass grave find is significant because it shows a deep connection between England and the Vikings. While there is a great deal of historical information about Viking raids in England, there was very little known about grave sites in the area.
This grave points to the fact that there may have been a massive battle in the area. This is one reason they are connecting this find to the Viking Great Army.
According to many of the historical accounts, members of the Viking Great Army more than likely wintered in the area of the mass grave. This would have occurred in or around 873.
It appears that the grave site started out as a monastery that the Vikings took from the Anglo-Saxons. They targeted this spot not only because of the location but also it was tied to the royal family at the time.
The monastery was well stocked with food and served as a home base of sorts for the Vikings after the takeover.
Within the cemetery that was used for the burials, there are also several other sets of remains that sparked some interest from researchers. It seems the mass grave may have been placed very carefully to send a message to citizens of England.
The Vikings buried some of their more critical men among the royal burial plots of 9th century England. This was done as a flex of power as they took the area over.
Artifacts found with the two adult bodies suggest that they were important members of the Great Army. They both were buried with jewelry that points to a certain level of power.
The body was put to rest wearing a necklace that combined Thor’s hammer with a Viking sword.
Another exciting artifact found with the adult bodies is tied to what may have been missing on that body. There was evidence that suggests the body was severely damaged. This may have included having the penis severed from the body.
To prepare the adult leader for the afterlife, Vikings replaced the missing genitals with a boar’s tusk. Similiar rights of passage type items were found with the set of four younger remains.