During the Iron-Age, ‘competitive feasting’ (essentially throwing the biggest, best, and most exciting party) was a key element in developing political and social connections. Archaeologists working Germany for the past ten years have uncovered key feasting elements in graves dating to 2,600 BP (Before Present). The contents of the grave emphasize not only ‘feasting’ but drinking – large cauldrons used to hold alcoholic beverages.
To the upper-class, the quantity of alcohol consumed was as important as the quality. Arnold excavated at least one fully intact cauldron used for serving alcoholic beverages in one of the graves at Heuneburg. But it’s hard to top the recovery of nine drinking horns — including one that held 10 pints — at a single chieftain’s grave in nearby Hochdorf in the 1970s.
The burial pits excavated contain objects belonging to men, women, and even children. To learn more about the excavations and these finds, feet the article in Science Daily.
A mass grave of at least 35 males (aged 16-25) was uncovered in Oxford in 2008 and is believed to be connected to the St. Brice’s Day massacre ordered by King Ethelred. The bodies were buried unceremoniously and all of the skeletons display the signs of brutal, execution style deaths.
In 1002 CE, Ethelred, after uncovering an assassination plot against him, ordered the death of all Danes living in the region. The Danes fled to a local church hoping to find refuge, but were instead murdered by the local townspeople.
The remains found in the mass grave are consistent with the time period and methods of execution described in the massacre. To learn more about the recent analysis of these finds, see this article in the BBC.
Recent analysis of Viking excavations has brought to light the role of women in what has been historical viewed a male focused culture. The image of the stay-at-home Viking wife and mother has been struck down by recent analysis of Viking archaeological sites across Europe.
”An increase in the number of finds of Norse-style jewellery in the last two decades has led some scholars to suggest a larger number of female settlers. Indeed, it has been noted that there are more Norse female dress items than those worn by men,” says the study.
It is an interesting change-up of demographic concepts. It appears that Viking women accompanied their men-folk (at the least in post-conquest moves) to new regions, building homes, and furthering the Viking way of life.