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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

The Funeral


BBC reconstruction: body in the chariotBBC reconstruction: body in the chariotBBC reconstruction: body in the chariot

BBC reconstruction: body in graveBBC reconstruction: body in grave

BBC reconstruction: body in graveBBC reconstruction: body in grave

Placing the chariot in the gravePlacing the chariot in the grave

Placing the chariot in the gravePlacing the chariot in the grave


When archaeologists excavate a grave, they are not simply excavating a body, but the physical evidence for a ritual event, the funeral itself. So, what happened at Wetwang? We know that the woman had been dead for a few days before she was buried. The grave was dug, she was (presumably) brought to it on her chariot and carefully laid in a crouched position on a mat or blanket. The mirror and pig joints were placed around her.

The chariot was then dismantled and placed over her. We know that the axle and pole would have hit her body, so the side of the grave was rapidly pushed down to raise them. The rest of the vehicle was passed in, pointing northwards as with other Iron Age chariot burials in East Yorskhire. The horses were not buried.

Other parts of this 2,300 year-old funeral are lost to us. We don't know what happened before or after her burial, or what songs, dances or speeches may have occurred. We do know that this was a special funeral for a special person. But exactly what was special about her is controversial and will probably never be known. Was she a princess, a chieftain, a priestess, a seer, or none of these?

Illustrations: stills from the BBC reconstruction of the burial.