Bones of the Irish Viking King

Okay, so I’m covering this story partly because it lets me use a headline that sounds like a Robert E. Howard story, and Robert E. Howard was The Greatest Writer Ever Yes Even Better Than Shakespeare. Did Shakespeare ever do anything that could be illustrated by Frank Frazetta?

Game, set, match, Mr. Shakespeare.

Anyway, archaeologists have found some remains in Scotland that they believe may be from Irish Viking Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of Dublin and Northumbria in the 10th century. Or someone he knew. It’s a little fuzzy.

The connection seems a bit iffy to me, but we’ll have to wait for the full report to be published next year to see how they support their theory. Here are the details:

The remains, which were excavated by AOC Archaeology Group at Auldhame in East Lothian in 2005, are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank. These include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland.

This artefact signals that the body was that of a man who may have spent time in the household of the kings of the Uí Ímar dynasty which dominated both sides of the Irish Sea from about 917 until at least the middle of the 10th century.

Olaf Guthfrithsson sacked Auldhame and nearby Tyninghame – both part of a complex of East Lothian churches dedicated to the eighth-century Saint Balthere – shortly before his death in 941, and the proximity of the burial to the site of the conflict along with the high-status items found with the body, and the age of the skeleton, has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that it may be that of the young Irish king or one of his followers.

And here are the bones:

Guthfrithsson was a member of the Uí Ímair dynasty of Norse-Irish kings. Ireland was heavily Christian by the time the Norse started raiding in the late 8th century, and Guthfrithsson was certainly a pagan king. His coin bears the image of the raven, symbol of Odin.

Guthfrithsson penny with bird symbol.

Mostly I’m just glad this post is over now so I don’t have to keep trying to spell “Guthfrithsson.”

Have a nice weekend.


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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.