A Cambridge archaeologist has declared 54 decapitated skeletons discovered in a mass grave at Ridgeway Hill, Dorset, in 2009, to be Viking mercenaries.
Carbon dating and isotype tests have revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and date from the 11th century, leading Dr Britt Baillie from the University of Cambridge to believe the killings may have taken place during the reign of Aethelred the Unready, the man behind the St Brice's Day massacre.
According to Baillie, the men in the grave were murdered methodically, and were beheaded in an unusual fashion from the front. This, she believes, indicates they belonged to a group of Viking killers who modelled themselves on a legendary group of mercenaries, the Jomsvikings.
A committee of MPs has announced an investigation into how repairs to London’s Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster could be made after the clock tower was found to be tilting 0.26 degrees and cracks were found in the palace buildings.
In October, a construction expert from Imperial College London stated that Big Ben’s lean would not match that of Italy’s famous Leaning Tower of Pisa for at least 10,000 years. The committee has stated that the tilt has not caused any structural problems and stressed that no decisions on repair works would be taken until 2020.
Letters written by the French philosopher Voltaire have been uncovered by an Oxford academic.
The 14 letters, which include a signed acceptance from the 18th-century writer for a £200 grant from the British royal family, reveal that Voltaire rapidly acquired links with the powerful and wealthy during his two-year stay in England in the 1720s. They are also the only known examples of Voltaire using an English form of his first name, Francis, instead of Francois in French.