Monday, December 23, 2013

Viking Women

There is new evidence that the Vikings brought their wives with them when they raided and invaded. To quote:
Interpretations of the grave goods has relied upon swords meaning male and brooches meaning female. When both swords and brooches were found, the individual was assumed male with a female offering, although McLeod argues that there is no feasible reason why a woman couldn’t be buried with a sword. When comparing analysis done by osteological assessment against the grave good based assessment, McLeod found that the ratio of males to females was more equal. Using skeletal materials to sex an individual can be difficult if the remains are fragmentary or damaged, but it is more reliable than interpreting sex from grave goods which are assigned by unknown cultural standards rather than biology. McLeod’s reanalysis of the skeletal remains from Repton and Heath Wood show that it was more likely that the ratio of males to females was even, and that the mistakes in interpretation was more likely the fault of equating grave goods and gender with biological sex. From this evidence McLeod argues that women did accompany the men on the two great invasions from 876 to 896. This also changes interpretations of the past where it was thought that Norse males intermarried with Anglo-Saxon females. If the men were bringing their wives, it is less likely that the proposed intensive intermarriage occurred. (Read more.)
And here is an article from Irish Archaeology about the burial ship of a Viking queen.

Centrally placed on the ship were the skeletons of two women whose remains had been placed in a specially built wooden tent. One of the woman was in her eighties[ii] and this was reflected in the condition of her bones which showed that she had suffered badly from arthritis during her final years. The second woman was younger and had died in her early fifties[iii].The connection between the two women is unclear; it is possible that they were related or more sinisterly represent the remains of a noble woman interred with her sacrificed slave. Indeed, some have speculated that one of the women may be Queen Åsa, the grandmother of Norway’s first king, although this remains unproven. - See more at:

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