Derk Van Peer
Dorset Viking Executions
DNA Match: Viking Invader Ridgeway Hill England VK264, VK449 (998 AD)
On Ridgeway Hill in the County of Dorset, a mass burial was found with the remains of 54 males. These individuals had all been executed in a gruesome manner with their decapitated heads dumped together in a large pit. Interestingly enough all of the sharp blade wounds had been struck from the front, meaning these individuals had faced their enemy. Radiocarbon dating showed the bodies were from 890 - 1030 AD. Strontium isotopes found in the bones show these individuals were originally from Scandinavia.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which had been written around 890 AD, provides a year - by - year account of all the major happenings in Anlgo Saxon England. Aethelred the Unready had been King from 978 - 1016 AD - it is quite possible these bodies died during his reign. Initially the King had paid Viking raiders off with over 10,000 pounds to stop raiding their lands. Later they began hiring Norse mercenaries to fight off the invading Vikings - however these mercenaries would switch sides frequently and proved too risky.
It is surmised the individuals in the Ridgeway Hill Burial were that of a raiding ship - as Viking longships carried around 60 people. The hip bones and shoulder bones also show that of physiques consistent with ship rowers. Unlike the known victims of the Saint Brice day massacre, these individuals appear to have been methodically killed. These victims are all in their late teens and early twenties with minimal evidence of existing war wounds.