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Ulla Mannering and Charlotte Rimstad are used to studying textiles, not bones. Since 2018, they’ve helped reconstruct Viking-age clothing at the National Museum of Denmark by analyzing fabric from ancient burial sites. But recently, they stumbled across a box of human remains.
These weren’t your average bones, they quickly realized.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we think we have the Bjerringhøj bones actually here,'” Mannering told Insider, referring to bones from the Bjerringhøj burial mound in northern Denmark.
The gravesite likely dates back to around 970 AD. This particular set of bones is believed to have been lost for more than 100 years.
In 1868, a farmer happened upon the burial mound while collecting soil, only to discover human remains sitting atop a pile of down feathers. The deceased person, presumably a man, had been draped in wool garments woven with gold and silver threads. In his chamber were two iron axes, a beeswax candle, two wooden buckets, and a bronze kettle.
Local farmers looted the artifacts, though they were eventually recovered and sent, along with the bones, to the National Museum of Denmark. But at some point many decades ago, the bones went missing.
“We can now show that they were not really lost, but they were just misplaced in the museum,” Mannering said. “It’s a nice ending.”
Archaeological studies of the bones may just be getting started. In a new study in the journal Antiquity, Mannering and Rimstad suggest that the man was an elite — perhaps even royalty — based on the clothing and artifacts buried alongside him.
“There are so many details in this grave that place him in the absolute top part of Viking-age society,” Mannering said. “But who he was — we don’t know.”
Why did the bones go missing?
In 1986, archaeologists excavated the Bjerringhøj burial mound …read more
Source:: Business Insider