It is common knowledge that England was populated by Vikings for a great many years. We have history books that tell us so and songs and tales that tell us so. We have archaeological evidence that tells us so. But we don’t as yet have a burial site that tells us so.
Until now, possibly.
Peter Adams, a man who lives in the area in question and is a metal enthusiast (which is to say on the one hand that he likes searching for spare coins or such in the ground), has discovered what archaeologists might very well consider to be the first Viking burial site ever discovered on English soil. He made the discovery a few months ago, and archaeologists descended on the site right away. They have been working feverishly ever since, digging carefully among the dirt to discover the hidden treasure beneath.
The site is outside Cumwhitton, a village near Carlisle, in Cumbria. Adams found the bodies of four men and two women, along with brooches, a bracelet, weapons, spurs, a bridle, a drinking horn, a belt fitting, and other adornments.
It is also significant that the men and women were buried together, signifying possibly that they knew one another or were part of the same family or political unit (perhaps a local lord and his wife).
Archaeologists think that the find can be dated back to the 10th Century. The date in itself would be significant, but the quality of what has been discovered is remarkable, showing a preference for preserving what is left behind.
The town of Ingleby in Derbyshire has a Viking cemetery, the only other known such burial place on the Island; the bodies there were cremated, as was discovered when the the area was excavated in the 1940s.
It should be noted here as well that the fabulous contents of the Sutton Hoo burial site are especially remarkable in and of their own right, but they are the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon king, not of Vikings, as is the case here.
Perhaps now that the first Viking burial site has been found, more time and energy will be devoted to finding others. The Viking period, after all, is an important period in British history.
The Cumwhitton site is unique in its contents in more ways than one. A handful of those contents are now on display at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle.