Beheaded Vikings in Weymouth Execution Pit

Beheaded VikingsIn June 2009 a thousand-year-old execution pit was discovered at Ridgeway Hill, on a hilltop by the ancient main road from Dorchester to Weymouth. The pit contained the remains of 51 robust young warriors, most of whom were in their late teens to early 20s. Since no pins or toggles were found, it is suggested that before the execution the men were stripped naked. Between AD 890 and 1034 (according to radiocarbon dating) these young men were publicly executed: their heads were hacked off with swords or axes. When beheaded, they were still alive, since the bodies show signs of multiple blows, like deep cut marks on the skulls, jaws and the necks. The severed heads were neatly stacked aside, while the bodies were thrown tangled into a pit. One victim seemingly tried to shield himself from the blows, and his fingers were sliced through.
At the time Danish settlers controlled large territories in the north and east of England. Anglo-Saxons in the south and west, as well as Celts in Scotland and Wales resisted continuing Viking raids. The initial study of the execution pit led to the idea that the bodies in it were a Viking raiding party, which was trapped. Last week this theory was confirmed.
Dr. Jane Evans from U.K.’s NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory examined isotopes extracted from teeth belonging to ten bodies, which allowed to determine geographic origins of these people. The group was from different parts of Scandinavia. One person is even thought to have come from north of the Arctic Circle.
A mass grave of Vikings who were executed by Anglo-Saxons is certainly a thrilling find. It reminds us that Scandinavian raiders were not always victorious over the inhabitants of the coastal regions that they pillaged.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

merle wenstrom

I don’t believe for one minute, that viking wariors would let themselves be taken alive and publicly beheaded, what a bunch of crap!!!! The remaining warriors that prevailed, more than likely buried their dead, possibly cutting their heads off before burial to set spirit free!!!!



I saw this on the news, even down here in New Zealand. Even then I thought it unlikely these men would be seasoned soldiers. Their ages seems to confirm this, although I acknowledge men had to grow fast in the period, often becoming “adult” around 13 years old. If I could take a guess, I would say they were farmers rounded up in a raid, or a sequence of raids, who were then dispatched with ceremony.


Lee Cartwright

The men all came from Scandanavia, so cannot have been rounded up locally.


william scull

i think early 20′s was a seasoned warrior.people were old and died at 35 back then.war has always been a thing for the young.just like boxing…mike tyson at 17 was a better fighter then tyson at 27…and if they bwrer armored,it explains why there clothes were taken…sounds like they really pissed someone off..maybe they did raid and kill a few locals.that would explain some things.and the fact they were all dna linked to far away places (and different places at that)suggest a war party.not locals.from the arctic circle on down.these people didnt meet up to move to england and farm.they were most likely brought together and ended up in england for nefarious purposes.if they were just local farmers,they would have been closer related.the breeding surge that happened in the north led to the the viking southern raids.


Brian Bicknell

It is without a doute that the Anglo-Saxons practiced ethnic cleaning in England. Ethnic cleaning is the reason the Anglo-Saxons left Europe and went to Britain. Because the Anglo-Saxons were being killed by other tribes.

I believe that they your “Harden Soldiers” would have have signs of being “Harden Soldiers” scares old war wounds ect. If not they may be a younger Germanic tribe party looking for land. To move away from people trying to kill them.
This theriy still may be true some people came from north of the Arctic Circle and the local Jarls and Leaders did not like the people they got killed. I do not think I ever heard of Asian with Vikings tho I know Viking have asian ancestry saids Coon a anthropologist. There eyes are someting far apart a asian trait.

I hope to hear more information on this story.


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