Experts examine secrets of Orkney Viking burial site

Orkney excavationImage source, AOC Archaeology
Image caption,

Archaeologists have described the discovery of the graves as 'significant'

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Post-excavation work has begun on a "significant" ancient Viking burial site in Orkney.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the recently-discovered graves may form part of a previously-unknown cemetery.

The human remains were discovered in 2015 on the northeast coast of Papa Westray.

Excavations revealed a number of finds, including evidence of a rare Viking boat burial, and a second grave with weapons, including a sword.

Archaeologists said the Papa Westray graves may be those of first-generation Norwegian settlers on Orkney.

Image source, AOC Archaeology
Image caption,

Weapons were among the artefacts uncovered

AOC Archaeology will analyse the graves to gain new insights into the life and death of the Viking community in Orkney during the 10th Century.

This will include a programme of bone analysis and radiocarbon dating.

HES will work with the Ancient Genome Project to uncover further information about the people in the graves, including genetic ancestry and sex.

Dr Kirsty Owen, deputy head of archaeology at HES, said: "Many of the Viking burial sites we know of in Orkney were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th Century, meaning that we have a rare opportunity to investigate this discovery with the cutting-edge methods and techniques available to us today."