Viking boat burial found in west Highlands

Viking boat burial site found in west Highlands

The first intact Viking boat burial site ever found on the UK mainland has been unearthed at Ardnamurchan in the west Highlands, according to archaeologists. The remains of what is thought to have been a high-ranking Viking warrior were found with evidence of the boat he was buried in, together with an axe, a sword with a decorated hilt, a spear, a shield boss and a bronze ring pin. The 16-foot long grave, which is believed to be around 1,000 years old, also revealed what could be the tip of a bronze drinking horn, a whetstone from Norway, a ring pin from Ireland and Viking pottery.

 

 

Ancient ‘paint factory’ in South African cave

 

Archaeologists at Blambos Cave in South Africa have reported the discovery of kits used by humans to make paint around 100,000 years ago. The finds made at the site include red and yellow pigments, shell containers, as well as grinding cobbles and bone spatulas that were used to work up a paste. According to researchers, the artefacts are proof of our ancient ancestors’ complexity of thought. Tools made of quartzite were also unearthed, together with evidence that charcoal and oil from seal bones were being added to the mix. The findings have been published in the journal Science.

 

 

Mastodon bone dispels American population theory

 

The rib of a Mastodon – a tusked beast that was distantly related to the mammoth –has dispelled the long-held idea that America's original human population came across a land-bridge from Siberia around 13,000 years ago. A projectile point lodged within the bone, which was found north of Seattle in the 1970s and has been precisely dated to 13,800 years ago, seems to suggest that there was human activity in the area much earlier than previously thought. The evidence, which has been published in the journal Science, also revealed that the projectile point was actually made of mastadon bone, implying that ancient humans systematically hunted or scavenged animal bones to make their tools.

 

 

John Lennon's tooth up for auction

 

A tooth given to a former housekeeper by John Lennon after he pulled it out of his mouth in the kitchen of his Kenwood mansion in Surrey, is to be auctioned in Stockport on 5 November. The tooth, which was given to housekeeper Dot Jarlett as a ‘souvenir’ for her daughter is expected to sell for at least £10,000.

In other Beatles news, a handwritten letter from Paul McCartney inviting an unknown drummer to audition for the band is also up for auction next month. The letter, written in 1960, was discovered at a car boot sale and offers an audition on the condition that the drummer be available for a two-month trip to Hamburg, Germany. The letter is expected to sell for up to £9,000.

 

 

Authors query Van Gogh suicide

 

Two authors of a new book on Vincent van Gogh have queried the artist’s suicide, claiming instead that he was shot accidentally by two boys he knew who had “a malfunctioning gun”. It has previously been thought that Van Gogh shot himself in a wheat field in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, but Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, who have spent around 10 years researching the artist, believe he was actually shot by accident. The authors state that the bullet entered Van Gogh's upper abdomen from an oblique angle and not straight on as would usually be expected from a suicide. The book, Van Gogh: The Life, is published by Random House.

 

 

Scottish football played 500 years ago

 

Experts analysing documents from the court of King James IV have discovered that ‘organised’ football was being played in castle courtyards in Scotland more than 500 years ago. A set of accounts from the reign of King James IV revealed that he paid two shillings for a bag of “fut ballis” in April 1497. The documents are not the first evidence of football in Scotland to be found; the world’s oldest football, which dates to 1540, was discovered behind panelling in the Queen’s Chamber in Stirling Castle during the 1970s. The ball itself is half the size of a modern football and made of cowhide with a pig’s bladder used to inflate the ball. Historians also have evidence of a football game watched by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1568 after she fled after the battle of Langside, and historians believe the game evolved rather than being invented. The ball is on permanent display at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling.

 

Charlotte Hodgman

 

Charlotte Hodgman is Features Editor for BBC History Magazine 

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