Last year I posted a story about the discovery of a load of headless bodies which were found in a mass grave in England. At the time there was speculation that they may have been executed vikings. Testing has now confirmed that they were!
The discovery, during construction of a relief road for sailing events in the 2012 Olympics, led to a host of theories. At first it was thought they were Iron Age warriors killed by the invading Roman Legions during fighting for Maiden Castle, Britain’s largest hill fort. That theory was ruled out when radio carbon tests dated the bones to between AD910 and AD1030, a thousand years later.
Study of the bones has revealed the brutality of their deaths. Their heads were not cleanly parted from their shoulders with the swing of an executioners’ axe, but hacked off with swords as the naked warriors tried to defend themselves with their bare hands.
Ceri Boston, an expert in ancient bones who examined the remains, said: “It was not a straight one slice and head off. They were all hacked at around the head and jaw. It doesn’t look like they were very willing or the executioners very skilled.
“We think the decapitation was messy because the person was moving around. One man had his hands sliced through. It looks like he was trying to grab hold of the sword as he was being executed.”