Viking ‘sunstone’ found in shipwreck

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A crystal discovered in a shipwreck in the English Channel may have been used as a Viking navigational aid, according to scientists.

The rectangular artefact is thought to be similar to a ‘sunstone’, which it is believed would have been used to locate the direction of the sun in order to traverse the ocean. Although references to such a device are made in Icelandic sagas, other academics remain sceptical about its existence due to a lack of evidence in Viking burial sites.

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Archaeologists find remains of Engels’s club in Manchester

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Archaeologists working on a site in Manchester have uncovered the remains of a club visited by Friedrich Engels during his time in England. The remnants of the Albert Club, which was founded in the 19th century, were discovered during work to construct the University of Manchester’s new National Graphene Institute.

  

Woolly rhino remains offers clues to ancient climate

A collection of ancient organisms discovered alongside the remains of a woolly rhinoceros offers new clues about Britain’s environment 42,000 years ago, according to a study published in the Journal of Quaternary Science. The ability of the climate-sensitive insects to survive during the Ice Age suggests that the temperature in the region would have averaged between eight and 11 degrees celsius, falling to as low as -22ºC in winter months.

  

Second World War PoW scrapbook to go on display

A scrapbook created by German prisoners held in the New Forest during the Second World War is set to go on display. The book features sketches, poems, Christmas messages and photographs, and was donated to the New Forest National Park Authority by the widow of the former camp leader.

Valkyrie artefact to head to British Museum

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The only known three-dimensional Viking representation of a valkyrie is set to go on display at the British Museum next year. The small figurine, which was discovered in Denmark in December and is currently on show at the National Museum in Copenhagen, is made of gilded silver and is believed to date from approximately 800 AD. 

  

Plans for future of Shrewsbury hoard revealed

A large collection of Roman coins found in Shropshire in 2009 is set to go on public display for the first time. The hoard, discovered by a metal detectorist in a field near Shrewsbury, was buried in cloth bags in a clay pot and is believed to be around 1,700 years old.

  

Camel fossil uncovered in Canadian Arctic

Scientists working in Canada’s High Arctic have unearthed the remains of a giant species of camel which would have lived in the area roughly 3.5 million years ago. The findings of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, also suggest that the animal would have measured approximately 2.7m from foot to shoulder and was an ancestor of present-day camel species.

  

Replica Bronze Age boat makes first voyage

A replica Bronze Age boat built using contemporary techniques has been used on water for the first time. The sewn-plank boat, constructed as part of a collaboration between the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the University of Exeter in association with Southampton University and Oxford Brookes University, was paddled by an 18-person crew on two 500-metre trips earlier this week. To find out more about the boat, and to listen to a podcast interview with project leader Robert Van de Noort, click here.

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Image credits: University of Manchester (Engels club); Asger Kjærgaard/Odense Bys Museer (valkyrie statue)