Category Archives: SWEDEN

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

A medieval victim still in his chainmail discovered in Sweden

The Battle of Visby was a violent Medieval battle near the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, fought between the inhabitants of Gotland and the Danes, with the latter emerging victorious.

The battle left a lasting archaeological legacy; masses of slaughtered soldiers and citizens lay scattered across what was once a bloody battlefield.

Slashed and broken bones, skeletons still in their chain mail and armour, and smashed skulls, some still with spears and knives protruding out of them. One can only imagine what they endured before they breathed their last breaths.

Visby, A Merchant’s Dream

During the Middle Ages, the island of Gotland, which lies off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, played an important role in the trade between Europe and Russia. As a result of this, the city of Visby flourished.

Since the late 13th century, Visby was a member of a confederation of North-western and Central European merchant towns later known as the Hanseatic League. This league protected the commercial interests of its members and was also a defensive pact.

Greedy King Sets His Sight on Visby

As the Hanseatic League grew in influence, it was seen as a threat by some rulers. One of these was Valdemar IV, the King of Denmark. The Danish ruler is said to have not been satisfied with the fact that the Hanseatic League was a rival to his kingdom’s trade interests.

In addition, Valdemar desired to get his hands on the wealth of the League’s towns. By the middle of the 14th century, Visby, although still a member of the Hanseatic League, is said to have decreased in importance, causing Valdemar to set his eyes on it.

Additionally, it is rumoured that the inhabitants of the town sang drinking songs mocking the king, thus causing him to hold a personal vendetta against them.

Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361 by Karl Gustaf Hellqvist

The Danes Invade

In the summer of 1361, a Danish army set sail for Gotland. The inhabitants of Visby had been warned about the invading Danish force and prepared themselves for the battle. In late July 1361, Valdermar’s army landed on the west coast of Gotland.

The Danish army numbered between 2000 and 2500 men and consisted mainly of experienced Danish and German mercenaries. The defending Gotlanders, on the other hand, numbered around 2000 and were militiamen with little or no experience of battle.   

The Battle of Visby  

The Gotlanders first tried to halt the advance of the Danish army at Mästerby, in the central part of the island. The defenders were crushed, and the Danes continued their march towards Visby. The Battle of Visby was fought before the walls of the town.

Although the militiamen were fighting for their lives and fought as best as they could, they were simply no match for the professional Danish army. As a result, the majority of the defenders were killed, and the town surrendered to Valdemar.

Mass Graves and Fallen Soldiers

Those who fell during the battle were buried in several mass graves and were left in peace until the 20 th century. Between 1905 and 1928, the mass graves were discovered and subsequently excavated.

More than 1100 human remains were unearthed, and these provide us with much detail about the battle. As an example, the types of weapons used during the Battle of Visby could be determined based on the injuries left on these remains.

About 450 of these wounds, for instance, were inflicted by cutting weapons, such as swords and axes, whilst wounds inflicted by piercing weapons, such as spears, and arrows, numbered around 120.

By studying the bones, it was also found that at least a third of the defenders of Visby were the elderly, children, or the crippled, an indication that the situation was very dire indeed for townsfolk.

Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.
Victim of invasion of Visby in 1361.

It is assumed that the dead were buried quickly after the battle, and therefore were interred with the equipment they had during the battle, which included their armour and weapons.

Thanks to their excellent state of preservation, these remains are a unique archaeological find. Although not many of the defenders were well-equipped for the battle, there are several examples of chainmail shirts, coifs, gauntlets, and a variety of weapons.

These incredible remains, along with the human remains, are today displayed in the Gotland Museum and remain as a lasting legacy to the defenders of Visby.

Armored glove found at Visby. 

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden

The uncovered ancient dog is still over 8400 years old at the grave ground of the Stone Age city in Sweden. The canine was buried with remains of individuals, who were part of a traditional custom called ‘grave goods,’ the living would leave valuables or sentimental objects with the dead.

The bones were studied by an animal osteologist but there was no modern dog like that, who said it was ‘like a powerful greyhound. Originally established close to the ocean, the settlement was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years.

The location where the dog was discovered is part of an extensive site where municipal authorities and archaeologists perform one of the biggest archaeological digs ever in the city.

8,400 years old Dog Remain found at Stone Age burial site in Sweden
Archaeologists uncovered ancient dog remains more than 8,400 years old at a Stone Age area burial site in Sweden. The canine was buried alongside human remains, which was part of an ancient tradition called ‘grave goods

The settlement is located in what is now Ljungaviken in Sölvesborg and has been a prime site for archaeologists since 2015. During the excavation, the team has found evidence of at least 56 structures that once stood at the site, along with postholes and pits.

The dog bones are a new discovery and have not been removed from the ground yet but archaeologists plan to eventually take them to the Blekinge Museum for study.

Osteologist Ola Magnell of the Blekinge Museum said of the discovery near the town of Solvesborg, said: ‘The dog is well preserved, and the fact that it is buried in the middle of the Stone Age settlement is unique,’

Museum project manager Carl Persson said ‘a sudden and violent increase of the sea level’ flooded the area with mud that had helped preserve the burial site. An ongoing archaeological excavation has involved removing layers of sand and mud.

The Swedish archaeologists said the dog was buried with a person, noting that survivors often leave valuable or sentimental objects with the dead. Such findings ‘makes you feel even closer to the people who lived here,’ Persson said in a statement.

The settlement, originally built near the coast, was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years
The area where the dog was found is part of a vast site where local authorities and archaeologists are currently carrying out one of the largest archaeological digs ever undertaken in the region. 

A buried dog somehow shows how similar we are over the millennia when it comes to feelings like grief and loss.’ The area is believed to have been inhabited by hunters during the Stone Age. A residential community is expected to be built on the burial site once the archaeologists are done.

Dogs seem to have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, as archaeologists are uncovering remains all over the world that suggest they were domesticated pets.

Earlier this month, a team discovered what they believe could be the oldest ever remains of a pet dog. Experts suspected the remains are between 14,000 and 20,000 years old, spanning back to the very dawn of the special relationship between humans and canines.

Researchers from the University of Siena in Italy hope their discovery can shed light on how dogs made the change from wild carnivores to loving companions.

One theory is that wolves became scavengers out of necessity due to a lack of food, and this took them close to human settlements. Some experts believe the animals and humans slowly developed a bond and the symbiotic relationship flourished from there.

Others think wolves and humans worked together when hunting and this is how the relationship spawned. The research team from Siena University hopes that the surviving fragments of one of the first dogs to live alongside humans as a pet could help find a definitive answer.

Dr. Francesco Boschin led a piece of research, published in August in Scientific Reports, on early canine remains found at two paleolithic caves in Southern Italy, the Paglicci Cave, and the Romanelli Cave.

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remain from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present.

‘This unambiguously documents one of the earliest occurrences of domesticates in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean.’

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remain from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present’

However, a further analysis which is still ongoing shows this figure could indeed be much later, towards 20,000 years, Dr. Boschin told RealPress.

From an archaeological point of view, the oldest remains of domesticated dogs were found in Central Europe and date back 16,000 years,’ Boschin said.

‘In the Mediterranean area we have now established that domesticated dogs lived here 14,000 years ago for sure, but possibly even 20,000 years ago

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

LUND, SWEDEN—According to a Science Magazine report, researchers led by Adam Boethius of Lund University found that preservation conditions at a Mesolithic site in southern Sweden have deteriorated significantly in the 75 years since excavations first began there.

Ageröd is one of many peat bog sites whose anaerobic conditions have preserved bone, teeth, antler fragments, and other artifacts for more than 8,000 years.

The wrinkles on the face of “Tollund Man” are still visible, even though he died more than 2,200 years ago. The mossy wetlands in Denmark that mummified his body are ideal for preserving organic matter, giving archaeologists an extraordinary window into our distant past. But a recent excavation at a similarly boggy site in Sweden shows these perfect conditions are fragile, and when they break down, so, too, do the bodies, bones, and other organic remains that have been preserved for centuries.

Peat moss around a pool in Cairngorms National Park in the United Kingdom

The finding suggests a long-standing tenet of archaeology—avoiding excavation and leaving artifacts in the ground for long-term preservation—needs revisiting, at least for some wetland sites.

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested the condition of remains excavated from wetlands like peat bogs is declining, says Benjamin Gearey, a wetland archaeologist at University College Cork who was not involved with this study. For example, bone deterioration has been documented at Star Carr, an archaeological site in northern England. But it’s been hard to know how widespread the pattern is–and how fast the decay is occurring.

Ageröd, a peat bog in the south of Sweden that holds bones, antlers, and other artifacts from Mesolithic cultures that flourished more than 8,000 years ago, is a good place to measure the pace of decay in a peat bog, says Adam Boethius, an archaeologist at Lund University.

Boethius and his colleagues compared bones freshly excavated in 2019 with bones that had been exhumed from the bog in the 1940s and 1970s and stored in the Lund University Historical Museum. They rated the weathering of each bone, from well-preserved ones—those that were shiny and crack-free—to dull bones with worn outer surfaces.

Ancient bones in disturbed peat bogs are rotting away, alarming archaeologists

The bones from the 2019 excavation were so weathered that their scoring system broke down. Some had lost more than half a centimeter of their outer layer.

Other sections of the site where they expected to find remains yielded no bones at all, suggesting they had entirely decomposed. The best-preserved bones from the 2019 excavation were in roughly the same condition as the worst-preserved bones from the 1970s, they write today in PLOS ONE.

A weathered wild boar heel bone from the 2019 Ageröd excavation

They found that deterioration was already underway in the 1970s. Bones from these excavations were more weathered than those excavated in the 1940s. What’s more, the same pattern with the 2019 bones appeared: The best-preserved 1970s bones were in a similar condition to the worst preserved 1940s bones.

The culprit is oxygen, the researchers say. Organic material trapped below the mossy surface of intact peat bogs is starved of oxygen, creating an environment too hostile for the fungi and bacteria that would normally break down plants or bones. But with excavation comes oxygen, which reacts with buried iron sulfide to produce sulfuric acid.

Another factor is a farming activity, which has slowly drained the wetland, damaging the protective surface and allowing oxygen in. It’s very likely that the groundwater in the whole area has become more acidic, Boethius says.

This means bones soaking in deep, wet layers will be rapidly destroyed. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events induced by climate change—including both droughts and floods—may also contribute to the problem, he adds.

The study is “sobering,” and demonstrates the “catastrophic loss of irreplaceable organic archaeological remains” in wetland sites across Europe, Gearey says.

It also highlights how important it is for researchers to better understand preservation and decay and raises questions about the default strategy of preserving remains in the ground, says Reading University archaeologist Martin Bell.

“If you can’t preserve it in the ground, you have to dig it up,” Gearey says. With poor understanding and monitoring of the conditions of wetland sites, leaving the treasure in the ground at sites like Ageröd is not an option for Boethius. “We need to excavate now,” he says. “If we wait for 10 or 20 years, everything will be gone.”

The stunning 3D face of ‘jawless’ Stone Age man whose head was found on a SPIKE revealed

The stunning 3D face of ‘jawless’ Stone Age man whose head was found on a SPIKE revealed

It is likely that the world never understands why the head of the man from Stone Age is on a stake and tossed into an underwater grave, but now it will see his face. 

The technology of 3D face reconstruction was used by a forensic artist to put together the features on an 8,000-year-old jawless skull to depict one individual with a pointy nose, a broad stir, and a long beard. The facial muscles and skin were formed using different factors such as the man’s weight, height, and ethnicity.

The skull was one of at least 12, including an infant, found in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden and experts believe the group may have been murdered during an ancient ritual.

In a note, Nilsson said to DailyMail.com: ‘ I rebuilt the face with a forensic reconstruction technique based on the expected depth of tissue of several anatomic landmarks of the skull alongside the rebuilding of the facial muscles. ‘

‘There are also reliable techniques to reconstruct specific parts of the face: the nose, the eyes and the mouth, from information and traces on the skull.’

The original findings, from researchers at Stockholm University and Sweden’s Cultural Heritage Foundation (CHF) in 2018, is the first evidence that Stone Age hunter-gatherers displayed heads on wooden spikes.

‘Here, we have an example of a very complex ritual, which is very structured,’ lead researcher Dr Fredrik Hallgren, from CHF, told Daily Mail.

‘Even though we can’t decipher the meaning of the ritual, we can still appreciate the complexity of it, of these prehistoric hunter-gatherers.’

Why this man, and the others, met such a horrific death may stay a mystery, but Oscar Nilsson, a Sweden-based forensic artist, has shown us what the ancient victim looked like.

The jawless skull (pictured) was one of at least 12, including an infant, found in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden and experts believe the group may have been murdered during an ancient ritual.

‘The Stone Age, and the Mesolithic period, is absolutely a favorite period for me. However these individuals from the Mesolithic genetically are so alike us today, the culture, the way they saw their world yet are so different from our understanding, beliefs, and values. So alike, but so distant,’ explained Nilsson. 

‘Moreover, the finding from Motala is so special: the skulls of 10 individuals were placed on wooden poles, just above the ancient lakes´surface.

‘Furthermore, they all had several healed traumas from violence. Stone Age was violent, but this is something else, one can almost suspect that the violence was ritual. Unusually frequent anyway.’ 

Also, his DNA was so well preserved that it was possible to get information on the colors of hair, eyes, and skin. Nilsson took a computer tomography scan of the skull and printed a 3D replica in vinyl plastic, Daily Mail reported.

Because the jaw was missing from the skull, he had to take a measurement of where it once was in order to reconstruct it. Although there is no evidence of what the man wore, Nilsson made choices on the wardrobe and haircut based on items found in the grave.

Archaeologists uncovered remains from a range of animals including brown bears, wild boars, red deer, moose, and roe deer.  The man’s hair was reconstructed to be short with a longer portion pulled back in a small ponytail.

Meanwhile, the white chalk decorating the man’s chest is a piece of artistic license, based on the fact that many Indigenous groups today use chalk for body paint, Nilsson said. 

‘It’s a reminder we cannot understand their aesthetic taste, just observe it.’ We have no reason to believe these people were less interested in their looks, and to express their individuality than we are today.’

Researchers uncovered the man’s skull, along with the 12 others, in 2018. Seven of the adults likely died in agony and had suffered serious trauma to their head before they died, which researchers suggest were the result of non-lethal, violent blows.

These may have been the result of interpersonal violence, forced abduction, warfare, and aids of socially-sanctioned violence between group members. The bodies were placed atop a densely packed layer of large stones in what would have been an elaborate underwater burial between 7,500 and 8,500 years ago.

Only one of the bodies still had a jawbone when it was buried, which experts suggest were removed as part of the burial ritual.

Two Viking Boat Graves—With a Warrior Inside—Found in Sweden

Two Viking Boat Graves—With a Warrior Inside—Found in Sweden

Previously, two Viking burial boats in Uppsala, Sweden have been unraveled by archaeologists the remains of a dog, a man, and a horse are remarkably preserved.

The horse skeleton.

A few of the powerful elites were sent back to their afterlife by the Vikings in boats laden with sacrificed animals, weapons and artifacts; the funeral practice dates back to the Iron Age (A.D. 550 to 800) but was used throughout the Viking age (A.D. 800 to 1050), according to a statement.

Throughout Scandinavia, several richly decorated gravestones have been found. For example, archeologists had already discovered one of those burial boats throughout Norway with evidence of human remains, and one in western Scotland with many burial artifacts, including an ax, a shield boss, a ringed pin a hammer and tongs.

Recent excavations of Viking boat burials reveal the remains of a man, a horse, and a dog.

The elites who were given such elaborate send-offs were also often buried with animals, such as stallions.

These burial boats were typically built with overlapping wooden planks (called “clinker-built”) and had symmetrical ends, a true keel, and overlapping planks joined together, said Johan Anund, the regional manager for The Archaeologists, an archeological organization working with the National Historical Museums in Sweden.

A man’s remains were discovered in one of the boat graves. 

Archaeologists have also found other, simpler boat structures, such as logboats, which are like a dugout wide canoe, Anand told Live Science in an email. 

The remains of the dog and the horse were nestled in the bow of the well-preserved boat, while the remains of the man were found in the stern.

“We don’t know much” about the man yet, Anund said. But analysis of the skeleton will reveal how old he was, how tall he was and if he had any injuries or diseases. Anund’s group may even be able to figure out where the man grew up and where he lived for most of his life, Anund said.

As for the animals buried with him, they could have been sacrificed to help the dead person on the “other side” but could also be there to show the man’s status and rank, Anund said. It’s common to find horses and dogs in such burials, but also big birds like falcons.

Archaeologists also found other items on the boat such as a sword, spear, shield, an ornate comb, and leftover wood and iron nails that were likely used in its construction.

A comb and a part of a shield were discovered in one of the boat graves.

The other boat was badly damaged, probably because a 16th-century medieval cellar was built right on top of it, according to the statement.

Some human and animal bones were still preserved on the damaged ship, but they seem to have been moved around, making it difficult for archaeologists to say much about them, Anund said.

Archaeologists discovered the ships, the well, and the cellar after a plot of land outside Uppsala was marked off to become a new building for the vicarage of Gamla Uppsala parish.

They excavated the boats last month and some of the finds will go on display at Gamla Uppsala museum and the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.

Human Skulls Mounted on Stakes Found at 8,000-Year-Old Burial Archaeological Site in Sweden

Human Skulls Mounted on Stakes Found at 8,000-Year-Old Burial Archaeological Site in Sweden

In a mysterious underwater grave that has baffled archeologists, a group of 8,000 years old human skulls has been discovered, some of them embedded in stakes. One of the pierced skulls, found preserved in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden, was discovered with some of its brain tissue still intact.

Two 8,000-year-old human skulls have been found embedded on stakes in a mysterious underwater grave that has baffled archaeologists. One of the pierced skulls(pictured) was discovered with some of its brain tissue still intact

This terrible discovery challenges our understanding of the culture of the European Stone Age, said, researchers. The reports from researchers in the University of Stockholm and the Swedish Foundation for Cultural Heritage (CHF) are the first evidence that hunter-gatherers from the Stone Age displayed heads on wooden spikes.

‘ We have here a very nuanced example of a very organized ritual ‘ CHF lead researcher Dr. Fredrik Hallgren told Live Science. Even though we can’t decipher the meaning of the ritual, we can still appreciate the complexity of it, of these prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

Uncovered at the Kanaljorden excavation site near Sweden’s Motala Ström river, the skulls were found alongside the remains of at least 12 individuals, including an infant.

Of the adults found, four were identified as male, and two as female. One of the men was in his fifties when he died, while two were younger, aged between 20 to 35. The infant skeleton is nearly complete, suggesting the child was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.

The finding is the first evidence that Stone Age hunter-gatherers displayed heads on wooden spikes. The gruesome discovery challenges our understanding of European Stone Age culture and how these early humans handled their dead, experts said

Seven of the adults likely died in agony and had suffered serious trauma to their head before they died, which researchers suggest were the result of non-lethal, violent blows. These may have been the result of interpersonal violence, forced abduction, warfare and aids of socially-sanctioned violence between group members.

The bodies were placed atop a densely packed layer of large stones in what would have been an elaborate underwater burial between 7,500 and 8,500 years ago.  Only one of the bodies still had a jawbone when it was buried, which experts suggest were removed as part of the burial ritual.

Interestingly, the group’s head injuries were gender-specific, with males found with marks near the top of the head, above the so-called hat brim line, while the females had cracks near the back and right side of their skulls.  Scientists said they don’t know what sort of weapon was used to inflict the damage, and that the wounds were serious but could not be tied to the cause of death.

Examples of blunt force trauma from analyzed individuals.

‘Though the lesions were not lethal, they must have affected the individuals – induced pain, bleeding, and a risk of secondary infections,’ study coauthor and Stockholm University archaeologist Dr. Anna Kjellström told Gizmodo.

‘Furthermore, even less severe head trauma may cause loss of consciousness, internal bleeding, or even permanent mental impairment.’

Three of the skulls, including two with stakes driven through them, showed evidence of sharp force trauma after death. The stakes were forced upwards through the foramen magnum, the large oval opening at the bottom of the skull and reached through the top of the head. They were likely used to mount the skulls before they were buried in the lake.

‘The fact that two crania were mounted suggests that they have been on display, in the lake or elsewhere,’ Dr. Kjellström said. Skulls whose jaws had been removed were chosen for the display.

‘Since we did not find any sharp trauma showing active attempts to separate the lower jaw from the skulls, this indicates that the individuals much likely were buried in another place before the depositions… One interpretation could be that this is an alternative funeral act.’

Experts uncovered 400 intact and fragmentary pieces of wooden stakes at the site, a number of which may have been used to mount objects that have since decayed.

A map of the Kanaljorden site. The black outline shows the excavated area.

As well as human remains, the Stone Age site was littered with butchered animal bones, including several severed jaws, and tools carved from antler horns. Researchers say further research is needed to understand why the ancient group buried their dead in such an unusual fashion.

Stone Age hunter-gatherers are not known to remove body parts as part of burials, with many gravesites showing evidence of a respect for bodily integrity after death.

Only until later in history did groups begin to display heads on stakes, such as European colonists mounting skulls of murdered indigenous peoples. The Stone Age burial was likely a group of key tribe members that were removed from where they were initially displayed and placed in the lake, researchers said.

‘The people who were deposited like this in the lake, they weren’t average people, but probably people who, after they died, had been selected to be included in this ritual because of who they were, because of things they experienced in life,’ Dr. Hallgren said.

Dr. Mark Golitko, an archaeologist at the University of Notre Dame, who was not involved in the study, told Live Science: ‘There’s clearly something ritual going on here. What all that means, I don’t think we’ll ever know.’

1,200-Year-Old Viking Runestone May Warn of Climate Change, Study Says

1,200-Year-Old Viking Runestone May Warn of Climate Change, Study Says

Most people in the modern world are very worried about climate change and the Vikings seem to also be very worried about climate change.

Scientists are now claiming that one of the most popular runestones, erected by Vikings, shows they feared a cataclysmic fall in the temperature and terrible winters. This probably influenced the development of their culture and myths such as Ragnarök.

When they made the discovery, researchers reinterpreted this Viking runestone, known as the Rök Stone. This is a stone that is covered in runes, which are the characters of the written language of the Viking world.

It was founded in the beginning of the 9th century in the south of Sweden near Vättern lake. The BBC reports that it “believes to be the world’s longest runic inscription, with more than 700 runes covering its five sides.”

It was long believed that the stone was erected by a person of some social standing to commemorate a dead son.  It also alluded to battles that took place in the past, and a reference to Theodoric, which may be a reference to the Ostrogothic king who built a powerful Germanic kingdom based in Italy.

He was one of the most powerful monarchs of his time and often simply known as Theodoric the Great. However, the meaning of the texts has remained mysterious, because the writing styles are unusual, and some important parts are missing.

Full shot of the Viking runestone (‘the Rök Stone’) that is now believed to show the Viking’s fears of climate change.

A multidisciplinary study involving three Swedish Universities believes that this Viking runestone also had another meaning. Researchers from disciplines such as philology, semiotics, and history, collaborated on the study, which revealed an important allusion in the writing. They have interpreted the runes as referring to a period of extreme winter and cool summers, which the Vikings feared greatly.

The researchers in a new study state that “the inscription deals with anxiety triggered by a son’s death and the fear of a new climate crisis,” reports Live Science.

They believe that the runes refer to the climate crisis of 536 AD. A series of volcanic eruptions in the sixth century in the southern hemisphere, caused the temperature to fall, leading to very cold winters

The cooling in the climate caused harvest failures and famine.  The 6th-century crisis, as it is known, led to the population of Scandinavia falling by 50%. This cataclysmic time was passed down in the folk memory of the Vikings and may have been expressed in myths, particularly in the tale of the Fimbulwinter. This was a three-year winter that would proceed Ragnarök, the end of the world.

A scene from the last phase of Ragnarök, after Surtr has engulfed the world with fire, ‘the end of the world’.

Researchers believe that the Vikings feared that there would be a repeat of the climate crisis, even centuries after it devastated Scandinavia.

They believe that the references to battles may be allusions to drastic changes in the climate, which occurred in the 6th century. The experts argue that the battles may illustrate “the conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death,” according to the BBC.

The Viking runestone does not only indicate an awareness of the impact of a past climate change but also a fear of a new one. Ominous events from the author of the runes are also recorded, which may have been seen as signs of an impending climate crisis. 

These included a solar eclipse and a cold summer that reduced crop yields. Bo Graslund, an archaeology professor at Upsala University, told Science Alert “even one of these events would have been enough to raise fears of another Fimbulwinter,” as in the myth of Ragnarök.

Uppsala University Publications, reports that the researchers interpret the runes as referring to “nine enigmatic questions. Five of the questions concern the sun, and four of them, it is argued, ask about issues related to the god Odin.”

The exact meaning of the questions is unknown, but they would seem to suggest anxiety about the sun and climatic cooling. They may indicate a concern that the sun may fail to warm the earth, as in the 6th-century climate crisis, leading to a long winter and the onset of Ragnarök.

The researchers’ new interpretation also found similarities between the texts and “early Scandinavian poetry, especially in the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál,” according to Uppsala University Publications.

This new interpretation of the Viking runestone is providing new insights. It demonstrates that the fear of climate change greatly influenced the Viking’s worldview and culture. Additionally, the runestone shows them to be deeply conscious of the fragility of their society and world.

Archaeologists uncover part of the 16th-century ship in central Stockholm

Archaeologists uncover part of the 16th-century ship in central Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, can be popular for a lot, but it was an unexpected event to discover a 500-year-old shipwreck in the center of the city.

The most likely shipwreck is from the Swedish cargo ship Samson, built-in 1598 at Enånger in Hälsingland by AndersPedersson.

Relics of the ship were accidentally found in the middle of Stockholm under a Kungsträdgården (Swedish for “King’s Garden”) courtyard.

The courtyard had to be lowered while conducting renovation work to strengthen the foundation of a property

In these projects archeologists usually participate, in case anything of historical value will be found, were amazed when they noticed wooden parts of this old ship.

The study of wreckage was carried out by the maritime archeologists of the Norwegian Maritime Museum of Transport History and it has been determined it’s part of the Samson ship that was over 30 meters long.

In an interview with TT archaeologist Philip Tonemar who has commissioned the survey on behalf of the county administrative board, explained it’s a very rare archaeological discovery.

Archaeologists examine the shipwreck discovered in the middle of the city of Stockholm.

Tonemar said the dating of the timber, the shipbuilding technology as well as the size perfectly matches Samson.

“A finding from this transition period between the older and newer shipbuilding of the era is very unusual. There are really no other direct examples, and that it is completely built with pine and its special design details also makes it unique,” Tonemar said.

Little is known about Samson’s fate and there are only brief historical notes about the ship’s history. For some unknown reason, after 1607 Samson vanished from historical records.

Tonemar thinks the ship was most likely abandoned.

“When the ship was abandoned in the early 1600s, it was probably stripped of material, chopped up and left on the shore.

Discovering parts of the Samson cargo ship thrilled archaeologists.

We found garbage from residents in the area that were thrown directly over the ship,” Tonemar said.

In addition to the shipwreck, archaeologists also discovered coins, pipes, ceramics, glass and a small ball of clay in mud that perhaps a child had lost.

Today, only a part of the bottom of one hull remains from Samson. It’s a historical ship and the latest remains will be covered with a ground cloth,  protective material, and preserved for future generations.