Skeleton of Viking who was slain in an ‘ethnic cleansing’ massacre in 11th century England is reunited with the remains of his battle-hardened warrior relative in Denmark 


  • Two Viking warriors from the same clan, separated by more than 1,000 years, are finally reunited at the National Museum of Denmark
  • DNA analysis showed that the Vikings, one in their 20s and the other in their 50s, were from the same family
  • One died in England in his 20s, while the other died in his 50s in Denmark
  • The Viking in his 20s died of a head injury, while the Viking in his 50s has battle wounds on his skeleton
  • It is believed that both men were killed in the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in 1002 AD
  • The slaughter comes after King Ethelred II of England ordered the killing of dozens of Danish raiders, settlers and their children.
  • In October, the Oxford Museum said it was sending the skeleton to be reunited with a relative

Two Viking warriors from the same clan, separated by more than 1,000 years, have finally reunited at Denmark’s National Museum, officials said on Wednesday.

DNA analysis has shown that the Vikings, one of whom died in England in the 11th century at the age of about 20 and the other in Denmark in the 50s, belonged to the same family.

Bringing the two men together marks the end of the 1,000-year long journey in which they were separated.

“It’s a great discovery because now you can trace movements in space and time through a family,” museum archaeologist Janet Varberg told AFP.

Although the Viking who died in England was buried in a mass grave in Oxford containing at least 35 men and boys, both took part in the fighting.

The Viking in his 20s died of a head injury, while the Viking in his 50s has battle wounds on his skeleton, suggesting that he was an active warrior.

The first skeleton was discovered in 2005 near Otterup, Denmark, while the second was found in 2008 at the bottom of the quadrangle at St John’s College in Oxford, England. The Guardian reported.

It is believed that both men were killed in the St. Bryce Day Massacre in 1002 AD when Danish Vikings invaded Scotland and England in the late 8th century.

The young men may have been killed in a ‘Viking raid’, but there is also a theory that they (the skeleton in the mass grave) were victims of a royal decree of the English king Ethelred the Second, who in 1002 ordered that all Danes be in England. must be killed,’ Varberg said.

Two Viking warriors from the same clan, separated by more than 1,000 years, are finally reunited at the National Museum of Denmark

The first skeleton of a man in his 50s was excavated in 2005 near Otterup, Denmark

The first skeleton of a man in his 50s was excavated in 2005 near Otterup, Denmark

In 2008, his second skeleton was found at the bottom of the quadrangle at St John's College in Oxford, England.

In 2008, his second skeleton was found at the bottom of the quadrangle at St John’s College in Oxford, England.

It is unclear how the men were related, with some experts speculating that they may have been half-brothers, grandfathers and grandchildren or uncles and nephews.

‘It’s very difficult to say whether they lived the same age or they probably differed by a generation, because you don’t have any material in the grave that can give an accurate dating. So you have a margin of 50 years plus or minus,’ Varberg explained.

In October, Oxfordshire County Council’s Museum Resource Center said it was sending the skeleton, known as SK1756, back to Denmark for a reunification.

Although the Viking who died in England was buried in a mass grave in Oxford containing at least 35 men and boys, both took part in the fighting.

Although the Viking who died in England was buried in a mass grave in Oxford containing at least 35 men and boys, both took part in the fighting.

A Viking skeletal skull with nine sword marks from AD 1002.  Viking in his 20s dies of head injury

A Viking skeletal skull with nine sword marks from AD 1002. Viking in his 20s dies of head injury

Archaeological curator Angie Bolton inspects a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire today

Archaeological curator Angie Bolton inspects a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire today

SK1756 will also be featured in a TV documentary about the Vikings led by Dr. Rane Willerslev, director of the National Museum of Denmark.

Some of the work to establish the link between the two skeletons was done by his twin brother, Eske, who was a specialist in DNA.

The complete Viking skeleton is seen at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

The complete Viking skeleton is seen at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

Vertebrates of a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 featuring markings from a spear or projectile at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

Vertebrates of a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 featuring markings from a spear or projectile at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

Dr Willerslev said in October, ‘It was strange to see this skeleton – one of your ancestors, who had been hit eight to 10 times in the head and several times in the spine.

Willerslev went to Standlake, Oxen to interview archeology curator Angie Bolton, who said at the time that the DNA link to the Danish skeleton was ‘amazing’.

The mass grave was discovered in 2008 when excavations preceded a development on the grounds of St John’s College, University of Oxford.

Later research showed that they were all massacred at the same time, possibly in AD 1002.

While 33 of them were tall, strong adult males, two were juveniles who met a violent death – but did not necessarily lead a violent life.

The analysis shows that some of the victims originated within the UK, Denmark and Germany.

Rib bones of a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

Rib bones of a Viking skeleton from AD 1002 at the Museum Resource Center in Oxfordshire

Experts say that the massacre was prompted by King Ethelred’s frustration at his inability to stop the Viking invaders from raiding England.

There are plans to conduct further tests on the SK1756 in an effort to uncover more mysteries beyond the grave.

The documentary and exhibition will open at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen in 2021 and run in various forms until 2024.

The Viking Age lasted around 700-1110 AD

The Viking Age in European history was from about 700 to 1100 AD.

During this period many Vikings left their homes in Scandinavia and traveled by long boat to other countries such as Britain and Ireland.

When Britons first saw the Viking longboats, they came ashore to welcome them.

However, the Vikings fought with the locals, stealing from churches and burning buildings to the ground.

The British called the invaders ‘Dans’, but they also came from Norway and Sweden…

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