[Northkeep] Norse footprints
wynfrith at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 30 01:10:45 PDT 2002
[ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]
I found this on the Norsefolk list and thought some of you might like it.
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 23:33:08 -0700
Subject: article: Footprints Reveal Viking Life
Footprints Reveal Viking Life
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
July 9 Archaeologists digging in southeast Norway have uncovered for the
first time five Viking footprints, a discovery that might turn the site of
Kaupang, not far from Oslo, into a sort of Pompeii of the Viking Age.
A startling evidence of the Nordic people that from 800 to 1100 A.D. stormed
out of Scandinavia, sweeping in from the sea to kill and plunder, the
footprints indicate a shoe size from six nine and a half, suggesting that
they were made by men and women.
"They are well preserved as they have been made in a muddy narrow road. At
some stage the road has been covered by a thick sand layer, probably to make
it less muddy. The sand has filled out the footprints and when we removed
it, they were still lying there," Dagfinn Skre, the Oslo University
archaeologist in charge of the excavation, told Discovery News.
The footprints confirm that the Vikings used the typical North European
shoes, with no heel, just a soft sole and shoe, tied together on the side or
in the front with leather strappings.
"It is rather exciting to have found some Viking footprints for the first
time. We already knew that they wore those kind of shoes, as several have
been found in water-logged Viking age sites such as Hedeby, Lund and York,
as well as in the Oseberg ship burial. Yet this excavation is very important
for our knowledge of the Vikings," James Graham Campbell, professor of
medieval archaeology at University College London and author of several
books on the Vikings, told Discovery News.
The largest excavation in Norwegian history, the investigation at Kaupang
has already re-written history books.
Long considered to be a minor, seasonal trading center, Kaupang has turned
out to be Norway's oldest town, a lively trade and craft center with a
year-around population of 500-700 people.
Lying in a small inlet, protected from the sea by two small islands, the
town was founded in the 780s, and flourished for more than a hundred years.
The sheltered location would have allowed it to be the launching point for
many of the raids that terrorized Britain, Ireland, France, the Low
Countries, now where the Netherlands is, Spain and Italy.
Islamic silver coins, Persian jewellery, Baltic amber, beads from southern
Russia and India, pottery from France and the Rhineland, looted silver from
England all found at the site show dramatic new evidence of the
Vikings's commercial organization and the great distances they covered.
The excavation, in its third year, has also revealed what Skre believes is a
chieftain's house, probably burnt down at the time in which Kaupang was
suddenly and mysteriously abandoned around the year 900.
Most likely, the footprints were made around the year 800. Skre believes
that the Vikings walked from the shoreline about 45 meters further down, up
in the settlement, in a narrow muddy road between the houses.
"It is a fascinating finding, which I understand will attract the general
public. Of course, as an archaeologist, I consider the larger picture of
what Dr. Skre is discovering more important than the footprints," Nancy L.
Wicker, director of Scandinavian Studies at Minnesota State University, told
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