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Excavated Remains in Scotland could be that of Irish Viking King


Archaeologists in Scotland investigating the 2005 discovery of ancient skeletal remains in East Lothian are working on a theory that the remains could belong to the Irish Viking King Olaf Guthfrithsson.

The excavated human remains are that of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank, these include a belt buckle comparable to others from Viking Age Ireland. The burial indicates the young adult male was a member of the elite and spent time in the household of the kings of the Uí Ímar dynasty.

The Viking dynasty dominated both sides of the Irish Sea from about 917 until at least the middle of the 10th century, Olaf Guthfrithsson was a member of the Ui Imar dynasty and King of Dublin and Northumbria from 934 to 941

As well as evidence of the high status burial, the age of the skeleton discovery in Scotland together with its precise location has led to the interesting theories.  Dr Alex Woolf, senior lecturer in the School of History at the University of St Andrews and a historical consultant on the project, said:

“Whilst there is no way to prove the identity of the young man buried at Auldhame, the date of the burial and the equipment make it very likely that this death was connected with Olaf’s attack on the locale.  Since we have a single furnished burial in what was probably perceived as St Balthere’s original foundation, there is a strong likelihood that the king’s followers hoped that by burying him in the saint’s cemetery he might have benefited from some sort of post-mortem penance.”

The proximity of the burial to the site of the conflict along with the high-status items found with the body, and the age of the skeleton, has led archaeologists and historians to speculate that it may be that of the young Irish king or one of his entourage.

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