I just read a news report from the BBC about a mass grave found near Weymouth (UK) last June, where construction workers discovered 51 decapitated men, recently determined to have originated from Scandinavia (i.e., Vikings). They were apparently buried naked since no metal objects, nor bone buttons, etc., were found near them.
Many things struck me concerning this article, which has me still reeling in thought. I find that from either point of view (Vikings or Saxons), the story is emotionally charged.
There is the wonder and horror of the Saxons living near the coast, getting invaded by Vikings, probably more than once in order to be so prepared. There is the remarkable capture of 51 men, assumedly warriors. There is the killing by beheading of these invaders, assumedly witnessed by many people. There is the unceremonious mass burial. Then, there is the last line of the article: “Most of them were in their late teens to early 20s, with a handful in their 30s.”
My father-in-law was born in Sweden. My mother-in-law was the only one of her original family not born in England. My mother’s people are from England (5 generations ago). My sons are in their late 20’s. I love being on the sea.
Is there a story in this find? Certainly. Undoubtedly many stories. Will I attempt to put flesh and blood on the skeletons for a story? Not sure. It’s still too soon after reading the article for me to process the implications, but for some strange reason, the story is hitting very close to home. I can almost see their story, from the boat, from the land. See their faces. See their hopes. See their fears. See the horror. It all flashes before my eyes as if I’m right there, over 1,000 years ago, carrying a video camera on my shoulder, a silent observer in this tragedy-victory. I can’t seem to stop shaking.