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Home  > News  > Viking Grave Found In Doncaster

Viking Grave Found In Doncaster

November 17 2003

The grave of a Viking woman has been discovered in Adwick-le-Street, near Doncaster, along with some very rare treasure.

There was a decorated bronze bowl, an iron knife, an iron key and two oval brooches.

The discovery was made in 2001 but it is only now, after lots of research, that details of what was found have been made public.

Shows a patch of brown earth, with the outline of a skeleton faintly visible and two tortoise-shaped brooches clearly visible.

Photo: can you see the two brooches and the outline of the skeleton?

© Northern Archaeological Associates.

The bones are those of a Norse (from ancient Norway) woman aged about 45 or older. She lived in Doncaster from AD860 to AD900. By examining teeth from the skull the archaeologists found out that she originally came from the coastal region of Norway around the Tronheim area.

Like most Viking women she was buried with some of her possessions.

Photo: guess why these broches are called tortoise shell brooches...

© Northern Archaeological Associates.

Shows a photo of two carved brooches, shaped like tortoise shells or the two halves of an easter egg.

The shallow bronze bowl was for holding water and would have been used as a washbasin.

Although the key was in bits when it was discovered it is thought to be a latch lifter. Latch lifters, used to lift the door latch from the outside, were often found in the graves of Norse women, especially housekeepers.

The brooches are called 'tortoise brooches'. Can you guess what shape they are?

That's right, they're oval and look just like miniature tortoise shells. They were used to fasten the straps of pinafore dresses worn by Viking women in the eighth and ninth centuries

Shows the hoolow undersides of the two carved brooches above.

Photo: the underside of the beautiful brooches.

© Northern Archaeological Associates.

Very few Viking women burials have been discovered in the UK and none have been found in Yorkshire until now. The brooches are only the fourth pair to be found in England.

"It's an absolutely stunning find!" says Peter Robinson, Keeper of Archaeology at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.

Photo: this may look like a bit of mangled metal, but it's actually part of a Viking bronze bowl.

© Northern Archaeological Associates.

Shows a circular fragment and a strip of mangled bronze, parts of a Viking bowl.

Doncaster Museum bought the grave goods (key, bowl, brooches) and put them on show earlier this week. They will eventually be one of the star attractions in a brand new medieval gallery, due to open in 2004.

To find out more about visiting Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery click on this link.

Corinne Field