Category Archive 'Dorset'

18 Oct 2010

Viking Massacre Victims Found in Oxford

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Somebody seems to have whacked this poor chap over the head several times with a sword.

Excavation of a building site in 2008 for new student housing for St. John’s College, Oxford University revealed the remains of thirty-odd male individuals of fighting age bearing signs of violence and in some cases burns.

The conclusion of experts is that these represent the remains of victims of King Aethelred the Unready‘s St. Brice’s Day Massacre of November 13, 1002.

The Chronicle of John of Wallingford reports:

For it is fully agreed that to all dwelling in this country it will be well known that, since a decree was sent out by me with the counsel of my leading men and magnates, to the effect that all the Danes who had sprung up in this island, sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat, were to be destroyed by a most just extermination, and thus this decree was to be put into effect even as far as death, those Danes who dwelt in the afore-mentioned town, striving to escape death, entered this sanctuary of Christ, having broken by force the doors and bolts, and resolved to make refuge and defence for themselves therein against the people of the town and the suburbs; but when all the people in pursuit strove, forced by necessity, to drive them out, and could not, they set fire to the planks and burnt, as it seems, this church with its ornaments and its books.

A second similiar mass grave was found more recently in Dorset.

Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

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