Mass Grave of Vikings Found in England

Norse Viking

A mass grave of Vikings found in England - what could have happened to them?

A Great host of Vikings in England... pillaging, plundering, and conquering their way through this country...but what happened to at least 249 of them at Repton, with no battle scars to cause their deaths?

History well documents the presence of Vikings in England, but imagine the thrill of finding remains of their possessions and of the Vikings a mass grave of human remains...see the photo below.

On a visit a few years ago to my friends, Helen and Peter, on the outskirts of Derby, they pointed out in the not-too-far distance, the place where the mass grave of Vikings was found in England.

I thought, "Oh, I'd love to walk over there through the mustard fields." (At least they were fields filled with yellow flowers).

But they discouraged me. Apparently, it was much farther than it looked. I didn't even think of it at the time, but I should have at least asked for a ride so I could see the place for myself. I recall it was near a country church that we could easily see from my friend's backyard. More recently, while visiting Derby, I had time to browse through Derby Museum and art Gallery, and see the artifacts of these ancient Vikings.

Here is what I learned about the mass grave of Vikings found in England...

(All pictures were taken at Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Text and diagrams depicted within the pictures remain the sole property of Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

An Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records this: "In this year 873 A.D., the host went from Lindsey to Repton, and there took winter quarters and drove the King Burgred overseas and conquered the entire kingdom."

viking army at repton england
Viking Army at Repton, England
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The Vikings enclosed their camp with a bank and ditch and incorporated the stone church into their defenses.

More about the mass grave of Vikings found in England... Archaeologists found several Viking warrior graves in 1985, at the east end of St.Wystan's Church in Repton. West of the church stood a small chapel that the Vikings made into a burial chamber.

Viking army mass grave in England
Viking Army Mass Grave, England
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The bones of at least 249 people were laid around a central burial, perhaps that of a king.

Only one in five were women and the men were all aged between 15 and 45. Archaeologists think that these were men of the Viking warrior army together with local women. There were no traces of battle wounds, and these people probably died of some disease. The bones were collected from their original graves to make this great Viking burial.

Gold ring from viking grave
Gold Ring from Viking Grave (Viking Jewelry)
Photo taken at Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The burial chamber was covered by a mound of earth with kerb-stone/curb-stone.

Four young men were buried together in a pit near one corner of the burial mound; were they victims of human sacrifice?

Read on to find out more about the mass grave of Vikings found in England...

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles record the following: "In this year 874 A.D., the host went from Repton, and Halfdan went with part of the host into Northumbria

and Guthrum, Oscytel and Amund, the three kings, went from Repton to Cambridge with a great host."

Was this the occasion for such an extraordinary burial?

At the east end of the church in Repton, were several graves. One was of a Viking warrior.

Viking Warrior grave in England
Viking Warrior Grave in Repton, England
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

He had with him a sword and other personal items. He was killed from his battle wounds and buried
in 873-4 A.D.

Viking artifacts from England
Viking Artifacts from England
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

A young man about 17-20 old, was buried alongside the warrior. The young man had an iron knife.

Viking Sword close up
Viking Sword Close-Up (Viking Weapon)
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The double grave was marked with a timber post and covered by a setting of stones.

Viking Buckles
Viking Buckles
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Another gravestone was this partial hogback tombstone.

Fragment of Viking hog back tombstone
Fragment of Viking Hog Back Tombstone
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The tombstone is in the shape of a house with a bear-like beast gripping each end. This type of tomb was the fashion of Norwegian settlers in Yorkshire and Cumbria, but is unusual in the Midlands 10th Century, found at St. Alkmunds, Derby.

These leather Viking shoes found at York were waterlogged but have been preserved.

Leather Viking Shoes from York England
Leather Viking Shoes
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Sooo....really with all this Viking activity in England why aren't we all speaking Norwegian instead of English? Well...that's another chapter in English history...

I hope you found the story about the mass grave of Vikings found in England, interesting. © Copyright 2020
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This page was contributed by Kari Anderson, world traveler, and owner of
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