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Viking-Era Burials Excavated in Sweden

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

SIGTUNA, SWEDEN—Live Science reports that seven Viking tombs were excavated in east-central Sweden ahead of a construction project. Archaeologist Johan Runer said the tombs held the remains of four adults and four children, two of whom were infants of the same age and possibly twins. The layout of the 1,000-year-old graves, with the dead placed flat on their backs in an east-west position, suggests they were Christian, he added, since local people who followed traditional Viking beliefs were usually cremated. At least four of the burials may have included fire rituals, however, since deposits of charcoal and partially burnt caskets were also found. “Such phenomena are rather common in Christian Viking period graves, but previously rather rare [here] in Sigtuna,” Runer explained. Four of the tombs were topped with stone cairns, and one was surrounded by a stone cist. One individual was buried with a leather belt decorated with fittings of iron and silver-gilt copper alloy. Silver coins had been placed in his mouth. An ornate bone comb was recovered from another burial. The skeletal remains will also be analyzed, Runer said. To read about new analysis of a Viking metal helmet found in England in the 1950s, go to "An Enduring Design."

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