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12 March 2010, 05:35
Cutting-edge analysis of ten decapitated skeletons found buried at Weymouth's Ridgeway, has found they were Vikings.
Dated to between AD910 and AD1030, the mass grave of young men is a unique find that has excited archaeology enthusiasts.
Remains of ten individuals from the execution pit have been painstakingly processed and the isotope results from the men’s teeth show that they had eaten a high protein based diet, comparable with known sites in Sweden.
The range of isotope results shows that these men had scattered origins.
Dr Jane Evans explained: "Isotopes from drinking water and food are fixed in the enamel and dentine of teeth as the teeth are formed in early life.
"By completing a careful preparation and chemical separation process in the laboratory, the elements are extracted and their isotope composition can be measured.
"The isotope data we obtained from the burial pit teeth strongly indicate that the men executed on the Ridgeway originated from a variety of places within the Scandinavian countries.
"These results are fantastic, this is the best example we have ever seen of a group of individuals that clearly have their origins outside Britain.”
The unique burial site was uncovered on Ridgeway Hill in June 2009 during the earthwork operation for the relief road.
Specialists are continuing to examine the remains to try and piece together the story of the pit.
Many of the executed men suffered multiple wounds – inflicted by a sharp bladed weapon – to the skull and jaw as well as the upper spine, all thought to relate to the process of decapitation.
It is hoped further evidence about the demographic make-up, lifestyles, activities, general health and diets of the warriors will come to light as the analysis continues.