Separated for 1,000 years, two Viking warriors from the same family were reunited on Wednesday at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen, an event that sheds new light on travel across Europe.
At the start of the 11th century, one died in England from head injuries and was buried in a mass grave in Oxford. The other died in Denmark, his skeleton showing signs of beatings suggesting he would have participated in battles.
A DNA mapping of skeletons from the Viking Age (between the 8th and 12th centuries) fortuitously revealed that they were second-degree relatives.
“It’s a great discovery because now you can trace movements through space and time through a family,” archaeologist Jeanette Varberg of the National Museum told AFP.
For more than two hours, two of his colleagues reconstructed the skeleton of a man in his twenties, from some 150 bones on loan from the Oxfordshire Museum for three years.
The historical consensus on the matter is that the ancestors of the Danes invested Scotland and England.
The young man “may have been shot in a Viking raid, but another theory is that he was the victim of a royal decree from the King of England Aethelred II, who in 1002 ordered that all Danes from England be killed, ”Ms. Varberg said.
According to her, it is very rare to discover family ties between different skeletons, especially when it is not a question of sovereigns.
If the kinship is indisputable, it is however impossible to determine the exact link between the two men.
“It is very difficult to say if they lived at the same time or if there is perhaps a generation of difference because there is nothing in the graves that can give an accurate dating, you have therefore a margin of plus or minus 50 years “, explained the archaeologist.