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A boatload of Vikings: isotope evidence from a mass execution in Weymouth

Thursday, 12 October 2023
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:
Lecture Room 407, Boyd Orr Building
University Avenue
Glasgow, G12 8QW United Kingdom

Professor Jane Evans, British Geological Survey

Much infrastructure work was undertaken in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. This included improving the access route ( A354 ) to Weymouth. A burial pit containing over 50 skeletons was uncovered during this work; the skeletons had all been beheaded. This talk follows the isotope work undertaken to determine who these individuals might have been, where they came from and why they came to this gruesome end.

Further reading

JA Evans, J Montgomery, G Wildman, N Boulton 2010. Spatial variations in biosphere 87Sr/86Sr in Britain. Journal of the Geological Society  167 (1), 1-4.

JA Evans, CA Chenery, J Montgomery 2012. A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry  27 (5), 754-764.

JA Evans, V Pashley, CA Chenery, L Loe, SR Chenery 2017. Lead isotope analysis of tooth enamel from a Viking Age mass grave in southern Britain and the constraints it places on the origin of the individuals. Archaeometry  60 (4), 859-869.

Jane studied geology and geochemistry at London (BSc) and Oxford (MSc) Universities. She started working at the British Geological Survey in London in the early 1980s and during that time she focused on isotope analysis of rocks, mostly to determine the age of geological events. She concurrently did a PhD, part time, at London University.

When the BGS laboratory moved to Nottingham around 1990 and its remit changed, this resulted in archaeologists being able to apply to undertake collaborative work with the laboratory. Jane then focused on archaeological projects, using isotopes to look at the geographic origins of people, artifacts, and animals. The laboratory has had many fascinating projects come its way, including Richard III.

She has been involved in the development of isotope maps as a reference source for archaeology studies and is currently very interested in looking at what lead isotopes can tell us about past environments.