Slicing through time with Bradford Vikings

Research progress continues apace, with one eye on the clock as the project enters its last few months. The focus recently has been on how to present and interpret the data so painstakingly gathered, but the week has also been enlivened by a new schools workshop.

The dating evidence is quite complex to interpret, even for those used to dealing with it, so I have been exploring different presentation methods. One attractive possibility is the use of the dynamic mapping function in OxCal. This allows you to plot the distribution of dates on a map, either animated over time or as a series of time slices. As the example for Greenland shows, it is then very easy to see where the earliest dates fall and how patterns of site use change with time.

Greenland Timeslice

Early scientific dates for Viking Age settlements, mapped at 50 year intervals.

Recently, I’ve also been developing a new hand’s-on workshop with York Archaeological Trust. We have been using some of the introductory activities run at Saltaire Primary School, but adding a new section entitled ‘Science tells us more about the Vikings’, which explores how scientific approaches can inform our understanding of  Viking diet, trade routes and manufacturing methods.  A trial run, able assisted by some excellent Bradford postgraduates, received an excellent response from a class of 8 year olds.

The updated research will be presented at the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation meeting in Iceland in July and there is a firm diary date for the Festival of British Archaeology at the DIG in York.