Viking isotope dating

“The annals record these vast numbers of warriors coming to Dublin, and recent work is now matching that with the archaeology.

We used to think the annals were prone to exaggeration, and maybe the Vikings weren’t so bad.

Many of the remains were deposited in a charnel, while others were buried in graves with Scandinavian-style grave goods.

Although numismatic evidence corroborated the belief that these were the remains of the Great Army, radiocarbon results have tended to disagree.

The reservoir age corrections were calibrated by comparing the (super 14) C dates of 3 highly marine skeletons with the (super 14) C dates of their terrestrial grave clothes.

The calibrated ages of all 27 skeletons from different parts of the Norse settlement obtained by this method are found to be consistent with available historical and archaeological chronology.

At best, the method has an uncertainty of 25 years, and due to variations in intensity of cosmic rays there are periods in the Middle Ages and more recent times when the date obtained is very uncertain.

Dendrochronological dating can be carried out on certain kinds of wood and involves measuring the width of the tree rings.

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Large numbers of burials excavated here in the 1980s have been attributed to the overwintering of the Great Army in AD 873–874.A ninth-century Viking skeleton can be seen with sword and spearhead at the National Museum’s Viking exhibition; these were found in the War Memorial Park, Islandbridge, in 1934. “As a result of our new research, Kilmainham-Islandbridge is now demonstrably the largest burial complex of its type in western Europe, Scandinavia excluded,” says Stephen Harrison, who co-wrote the catalogue with museum director Raghnall Ó Floinn.He also recently co-wrote , aimed at the lay reader.Recent re-dating of the remains, applying the appropriate marine reservoir correction, has clarified the relationship between the interments, and has resolved the previous uncertainty.Bone samples from the Greenland Viking colony provide us with a unique opportunity to test and use (super 14) C dating of remains of humans who depended upon food of mixed marine and terrestrial origin.

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