Thursday, January 28, 2010


An arrowhead and unfinished axhead found at 11th-century metalworking sites
presumed to have been used by Vikings in York, U.K.

It’s true! As reported recently by James Owen in the National Geographic News, new excavations in the U.K. suggest that the famed Norse warriors – especially those who settled parts of England -- recycled on and off the battlefield.

“An 11th-century metalworking site recently discovered in the city of York is likely evidence of a makeshift recycling center,” writes Owen, “where Vikings took weapons for reprocessing after battle, according to historian Charles Jones, organizer of the Fulford Battlefield Society.” Owen goes on to write that Jones and his team “have found hundreds of pieces of ironwork—including axes, sword parts, and arrowheads—along with lumps of melted-down iron and the remains of smelting pits. ‘We found several 'smithing hearth bottoms'—the remains of the molten metal which dribbles down during the reprocessing of the weaponry ironwork,’ Jones told the York Press.

"The iron finds support the idea that metal was gathered and recycled in the area just behind where the fighting took place," Jones said. The artifacts are currently undergoing x-ray analysis at the University of York. The university's Søren Sindbæk said the tests should reveal whether the corroded items were forged using Norse ironwork, which involved using distinctive alloys of soft iron and hard steel.

"The Vikings were very skillful metalworkers," Sindbæk, an archaeologist, told National Geographic News. "Their weaponry is famous for the way iron is treated. Any metal was a precious material that would be recycled," he added. Recent excavations in York, which was captured and settled by the Scandinavian seafarers in 866, for instance, show that Vikings recycled boats for building material for houses and even sidewalks, Sindbæk said.

--This post courtesy of National Geographic News

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