The massive graveyard of a suspected ancient Viking army that invaded England in the late ninth century was accidentally unearthed in a church garden more than 30 years ago. But scientists couldn’t date the bones age, which meant they couldn’t figure out who the 300 skeletons had belonged to. A new technology has changed this and the results are finally in.In a study published online in Antiquity, a team of researchers led by Cat Jarman, a professor of archaeology and anthropology at University of Bristol, used a new type of carbon dating to accurately date the skeletons.Many researchers believed these bones belonged to members of the Viking “Great Army,” which began their invasion of England in 866, but proving this has been difficult. Past carbon dating of the bones put different skeletons dying in different centuries. Jarman told Newsweek that a large number of the bones had carbon dates that put them dying in the 9th, 8th, and 7th centuries, suggesting that the skeletons had been slowly deposited in the graves over several thousand years.
In the new study, the team used a form of carbon dating that took into account the large number of “old carbon” that the individuals may have consumed as a result of a high seafood diet.
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