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Viking Winter Camp at Repton

Last Updated 05 February 2018.

New knowledge about the Viking winter camp in Repton, Derbyshire, will air tonight. The Heritage Daily announced that in the BBC 4 series’ Digging for Britain, researchers will take a closer look at the camp and new findings.

Reconstruction of Viking man, Repton. (Source: Wikipedia)

In the past five years, a PhD student at the University of Bristol has revisited the site. She has reassessed the discoveries of an earlier excavation by Martin and Birthe Biddle in the 1970-80s. The newest tools and techniques now help to confirm or dispute current knowledge. In particular, it sheds new light on structures in the ground, estimates of the size of the encampment and activities that took place.

One example is a burial mound that contains a mass grave of about 250 people. The Biddles’ believed these were victims of the Viking wars. But the first radio-carbon dating suggested the remains could be even older. The new excavation, however, puts the grave firmly back to 873 CE. The mound itself also turns out to be a charnel house, and before that a workshop. Read more in the press release of the University of Bristol.

In a press release dated 02 February 2018, the grave is explained in more detail. The grave includes 80% male and 20% female bones. Among the Viking artefacts in the burial are coins that date to 872-875. The new radio-carbon dating confirms a date in the late ninth century. A double grave on site also shows a date of 873-886. Whether these are Anglo-Saxons or warriors from the Great Heathen Army, is not confirmed by this dating method. The academic article in Open Access can be found in the journal Antiquity of February 2018.

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