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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

 

Fossils from Happisburgh

Preserved in waterlogged clay, silt and gravel, a stunning array of plants, mammals and insects makes the fossil beds at Happisburgh among the most impressive from any Early Palaeolithic site in the world. The richness of the finds brings the environment of this place, at this time, to life.

 

Mammoth tooth
  • Mammoth tooth. One of the most complete elephant teeth yet found at the site, this was unearthed from a gravel layer. With large grinding-teeth designed for feeding on shrubs and trees, the ancestral mammoth (Mammuthus cf. meridionalis) was one of the large herbivores sustained by the rich vegetation growing along the banks of the early river Thames. Fully grown, the ancestral mammoth would have towered over its closest living relative, the Asian elephant.

  • Pine cone. This pine cone (3.5 cm long) is a testament to the astounding level of organic material preservation at the site. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and spruce (Picea) have both been identified from relatively common pine cones and microscopic examination of wood. Other plant remains range in size from tree trunks to pollen grains.

  • Sturgeon. Fish remains from the site include this perfectly preserved skull bone (2.5 cm long) of a sturgeon (Acipenser cf. sturio). Comparisons with recent reference material suggest this is from an adult. The sturgeon is the largest fish found in European rivers and spends most of its life in the sea, returning to spawn in deep water in the lower reaches of large rivers. This bone was found together with teeth and bones of pike (Esox lucius) and carp (Cyprinidae).

  • Tooth and jaw fragment of an elk. Tooth and jaw fragment (length 7.5 cm) of an early elk (Cervalces latifrons). A skull with antlers of this species was found at Happisburgh in the second half of the nineteenth century and provides important evidence for reconstructing what the animal would have looked like.

  • Jaw of a beaver-like rodent. This mandible is 9 cm long and comes from a large beaver-like rodent - (Trogontherium cuvieri) which was not adapted to felling trees and was probably similar in habits to the South American Coypu, which feeds on aquatic and waterside vegetation. Teeth of the European beaver (Castor fiber) have also been recovered from the site.

  • Toe bone of a horse. Grazing herbivores found at the site included a large, stocky equid (horse), identified from a fossilised tooth and this toe bone (width 7 cm).

  • Dropping (coprolite) of a hyaena. Bone-eating hyaenas can digest bones and teeth, passing mineral-rich droppings, such as this example from Happisburgh Site 3. The large size of the Happisburgh coprolite suggests that it may have come from the now extinct gigantic short-skulled hyaena (Pachycrocuta brevirostris). Microscopic analysis of the coprolite matrix has identified abundant pollen grains of grasses and other herbaceous vegetation, suggesting that the hyaena’s diet may have included the guts of grazing herbivores.

Mammoth tooth. One of the most complete elephant teeth yet found at the site, this was unearthed from a gravel layer. With large grinding-teeth designed for feeding on shrubs and trees, the ancestral mammoth (Mammuthus cf. meridionalis) was one of the large herbivores sustained by the rich vegetation growing along the banks of the early river Thames. Fully grown, the ancestral mammoth would have towered over its closest living relative, the Asian elephant.