Wensley churchyard Viking burial

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A bronze pin and stylus (writing implement) found in Wensley churchyard of eighth or ninth century date are both Anglian in style, but a later burial found here during grave digging was that of a Viking farmer. Although he was buried aligned east-west in Christian fashion, he was found with his iron sword decorated on the pommel with applied silver strips and panels with geometric and formalized leaf ornament. He also had an iron knife, an iron spearhead and sickle blade showing that he was probably a farmer. The sword is of Anglo-Saxon style of the ninth or early 10th century AD, but the burial is clearly that of a pagan Viking who wanted to take his tools and weapons with him to Valhalla as a mark of his status. This suggests that the incoming Norse settlers were using an existing Anglian cemetery for burial, or perhaps that the warrior was not completely convinced about Christianity and wanted to hedge his bets. The sword and other finds are now on display at the British Museum.


Hall, R & Hartley, E (1976) The Viking Kingdom of York. (exhibition catalogue) York: Yorkshire Museums

White, Robert (2002) The Yorkshire Dales. A Landscape Through Time. Ilkley: Great Northern Books


On display at the British Museum, London. Early Medieval Room (room 41). See www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/ for opening times.

Public Transport Details

Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey to London.


Fully accessible. See www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/ for further details.