April and May Roundup: Point Rosee, the Woman in Blue, Finds Aplenty, and Much More

Norwegian archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad at L'anse aux Meadows in 1963. A team of archaeologists led by Ingstad discovered the only confirmed Viking Age site in North America so far, L'anse aux Meadows. Image: Smithsonian Institute.

Point Rosee: Satellite Images Reveal Potential Second Norse Settlement Site in North America
Archaeologists have identified a potential second Viking Age site in North America at Point Rosee, a location off the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Along with a few objects of Norse origin, only one Norse settlement site in North America has so far been confirmed, the famous L'Anse aux Meadows.

The story behind the discovery of the potential site is itself interesting and has received widespread attention from just about every major media outlet in North America. Here's one from National Geographic (connected to research at the site by way of archaeologist Sarah Parcak) and Live Science.

Viking Age Sword Sparks Conflict in Russia, Ukraine, and Estonia
A Viking Age sword was recently the subject of a minor conflict involving Russia, Ukraine, and Estonia. The sword, which Ukraine claims was discovered in Ukraine and Russia claims was found in Russia and smuggled to Ukraine (as far as I can tell, anyway), was eventually returned to Ukraine.

The situation makes for an interesting case study. Compare, if you will, the following reports:
* (Russian government propaganda organ) Sputnik "Kiev Stakes Claim on Viking Sword Smuggled From Russia"
Estonian Public Broadcasting"Ukraine claims Viking-era sword confiscated by Estonian customs"
* KyivPost"Estonia decides to hand over Ukraine Viking sword seized on Russian-Estonian border"

Viking Age Thing Found in Bute, Scotland
Herald Scotland reports that archaeologists in Bute, Scotland have discovered a Norse thing, a traditional assembly site among the Germanic for hashing out legal matters (and in fact connected to the modern English noun thing). From the article:

"...archaeologists believe they have identified one of the Norse parliament sites – known as a ‘thing’ - on the island of Bute, which points to it being the headquarters of the powerful Norse King, Ketill Flatnose, whose descendants were the earliest settlers on Iceland.

The significance of the mound site at Cnoc An Rath, which has been listed as an important archaeological monument since the 1950s, has been unclear for decades. Some had suggested it could have been prehistoric or a medieval farm site.

However, the idea of the location being a Viking site had been raised through a recent study of place-names on the island, which suggested long-lost names in the area may have contained the Norse word ‘thing’.

A series of excavations has now uncovered samples of a preserved surface which when analysed through radio-carbon dating correspond to the time when Vikings were active around the Argyll coast."

Unusual Viking Age Object Anonymously Donated to National Museum of Ireland
Several items were recently donated to the National Museum of Ireland by an anonymous party. One of these objects is a Viking Age strap-tag:

"The metal decorative piece is a very 'unusual and rare' object that hangs from a strap or belt. It was considered a dress or fashion accessory in the medieval period."

For more information, see the Irish Independent's article here.

More Information about the Short-Lived Viking Age "Woman in Blue" Revealed
Research continues on the remains of a partial skeleton of a young woman found in an Icelandic grave. The grave  contained a variety of Viking Age artifacts, including a blue-dyed apron—hence the name "Woman in Blue". Discovered in 1938, the individual is particularly notable because she appears to have been a child of one of the earliest settlers of the island.

Researchers now say the woman was between the age of 17 and 25 at the time of her death. However, whether she was from southern Scandinavia or the British Isles remains unclear, from a report by Science News:

"It’s not known if the woman was a Viking or if she came from another northern European population, said bioarchaeologist Tina Jakob of Durham University in England. A chemical analysis of one of her teeth indicates that, between ages 5 and 10, she started eating a lot of fish and other seafood for the first time after having previously consumed mainly plants and land animals, concluded scientists from Britain, Denmark and the United States working in collaboration with the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik. Jakob was part of that effort. "

Discovery of around 150 Anglo-Saxon Graves near Bulford, England
An Anglo-Saxon graveyard consisting of about 150 graves was discovered at an army testing site near Bulford, England. The site was used by Bulford Camp, a military base located in Bulford, for weapons testing and training during both World Wars. For a little more information and a few images of finds from the site, see the report from Culture24 here.

The Rök Runestone on a sunny day in southeastern Sweden. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

New Reading of Rök Runestone
The Rök Runestone is one of the most celebrated runestones in the runic corpus, partially due to its unusually long inscription. Per Holmberg (University of Gothenburg) has proposed a new reading of the stone, which can be read about over at the University of Gothenburg's press release here.

Discoverer of Galloway Hoard Claims Mistreatment
Derek McLennan, the treasure hunter who in 2014 discovered the Galloway Hoard, a Viking Age treasure deposit, has expressed grievances about his treatment by the Crown's Treasure Trove Unit and Historic Environment Scotland. According to McLennan, he has yet to receive compensation for the find and he has been "sidelined" from events. Herald Scotland has more on the situation here.

Huge Viking Age-Inspired Ship Arrives in Iceland from Norway
The largest Viking Age-inspired ship in the world (I'm not clear on how much of a reconstruction it is), Draken Harald Hårfagre, sailed from Norway to Iceland's capitol, Reykjavík, on May 11. The Reykjavík Grapevine has a pictorial covering its arrival, which readers can peruse here.

Icelandic Elf School in the News Again
The South China Morning Post recently ran a story with the eye-brow raising headline "‘No doubt’ Iceland’s elves exist: anthropologist certain the creatures live alongside regular folks". The "anthropologist" in question is Magnus Skarphedinsson, the "headmaster" of the Icelandic Elf School and "leader of the Icelandic Paranormal Society". The Icelandic Elf School is based in Reykjavík.

The Wild Hunt Food Cart Begins Operation in Portland, Oregon
Portland now has an ancient Germanic peoples themed food cart: The Wild Hunt. The food cart, a modified cobalt 1986 Chevrolet Bluebird Bus, is operated by couple Megan Walhood and Jeremy Daniels, who also own and operate another Portland food cart, Viking Soul Food. Primary culinary inspiration seems to be contemporary Scandinavian cuisine with some continental Germanic influence. For more information, including a photo of the duo's Odin-and-Sleipnir banner, see Eater Portland's article here.