Sunday, 21 October 2018

Viking Grave, Broch of Gurness

Viking Grave, Broch of Gurness, Orkney; commissioned by HES
A while ago I was commissioned to do a series of illustrations reconstructing different parts of the Broch of Gurness, in the Orkneys by Historic Environment Scotland. This was one of them, it depicted the last stage of the Broch, where after its initial main use in the Iron age, it eventually seems to have been used somewhat by local Vikings as a burial place. I believe this was a common enough feature in Scotland, suppose like the later Normans, they tried to integrate themselves into the culture that was there before.

In this particular grave not much was found of the original Viking, as the soils destroyed all except bones, a knife, an iron necklace, a sickle and some beautiful Brooches, google "Broch of Gurness Viking Brooches" to see the originals, shown here on the women being buried. Who this lady is we dont know, but she was obviously someone important to be buried with something like the Brooches. Could something be read into the burial goods like the sickle? It very well may point to some connection with the harvest but this could have either have been earthly (like a wealthy landlord) or symbolic, I wouldnt dare to venture a guess myself.

All in all, the Vikings are always interesting as they represent really undulated prehistoric tradition in Europe going back to the Iron age and probably far beyond, and mark its end of its pure continuation(probably not that pure though, since humans have a tendency to change generation to generation)

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