Skeletons of related Viking-era men to reunite for exhibit

Published June 10, 2021
EMPLOYEES from a museum in Denmark unpack the skeleton of a man found in a mass grave in Oxford, England.—AFP
EMPLOYEES from a museum in Denmark unpack the skeleton of a man found in a mass grave in Oxford, England.—AFP

COPENHAGEN: The skeletons of two related Viking-era men, one who died in central Denmark and the other who was killed in England during a massacre ordered by a king, are set to be reunited for an exhibition opening in Copenhagen this month.

Scientists on both sides of the North Sea have established a genetic link between the Norsemen. DNA tests showed that they are either half brothers or nephew and uncle, University of Copenhagen geneticist Eske Willerslev said.

The man from the central Denmark island of Funen was a farmer in his 50s; his skeleton was excavated in 2005 near the town of Otterup. He stood 182-centimeters-tall (just under 6 feet), had arthritis in most of his bones and signs of inflammation inside some ribs which could indicate tuberculosis, according to Odense City Museums chief curator Jesper Hansen.

The man likely took part in the raids for which Vikings remain notorious because he also has a violent lesion on his left pelvis, which may have originated from a proper stab from a sword. The wound from that blow may have cost him his life because it did not heal, Hansen said in a statement.

Across the North Sea, the skeleton of a younger man was found in a mass grave near Oxford, England in 2008 with the remains of at least 35 other men. All were killed more than 1,000 years ago when the king ordered the slaying of dozens of Danish settlers.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021

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