Monday 11 January 2016

Out of the cold far north and east? Some oxygen isotope evidence for Scandinavian & central/eastern European migrants in Britain, c. 2300 BC–AD 1050

This post offers a brief discussion of some isotopic evidence for the presence in Britain of people from the cold far north and east of Europe between the Bronze Age and the Late Saxon/Viking eras, following on from a previous posting that looked at the evidence for African and southern Iberian migrants in Britain between c. 1100 BC and c. AD 800.

The geographic distribution of areas with rainwater/drinking water oxygen isotope values below ‑10.0‰, shown in dark grey, and below -12.0‰, shown in black; note, drinking water in the UK has δ¹⁸O values ranges from around -9.0‰ to -4.5‰. Image: C. R. Green, based primarily on the IAEA's 2013 RCWIP model and L. J. Araguas-Araguas & M. F. Diaz Teijeiro, 'Isotope composition of precipitation and water vapour in the Iberian Peninsula', in IAEA, Isotopic composition of precipitation in the Mediterranean Basin in relation to air circulation patterns and climate (Vienna, 2005), pp. 173–90 at fig. 3. Note, this map used the 2013 IAEA precipitation models as its source; other published maps, such as the BGS/Chenery 2004 drinking-water map, show a smaller area of southern Sweden/Norway and a greater area of Central/Eastern Europe as having values below ‑10.0‰, although a more detailed drinking-water map of Germany offers a picture much closer to that depicted here.

As in the previous post, the evidence presented below primarily derives from recent research into the British oxygen isotope data retrieved from archaeological dental enamel. The burials in question all have tooth enamel phosphate oxygen isotope (δ¹⁸Op) values of 16.2‰ or lower, a level generally believed to fall below the range expected for people who spent their childhood in Britain and to be probably indicative of an origin in a colder and/or more northerly climate than is found here.(1) Moreover, according to both of the major equations used for relating tooth enamel oxygen isotope results to the drinking-water values that produced them, such values reflect the consumption of drinking-water with an oxygen isotope level below -9.2‰/-10.0‰. This is depleted beyond the usual range of drinking-water oxygen isotope values encountered in Britain—around -9.0‰ to -4.5‰—and instead strongly indicates an origin in either Scandinavia (where values varying from below -14‰ up to c. -8‰ are found) or central/eastern Europe (where, in the high Alps, values fall as low as -12.9‰) especially in light of the fact that it is now recognised that there are very few environmental, biological, or cultural processes that that can result in human tooth oxygen isotope values that are lower than would be expected on the basis of the consumed drinking-water.(2)

Rather than discuss each site in turn, I've decided instead to present a list of people with results that fit the above criteria, based on a 2012 catalogue of all oxygen isotope results retrieved over the previous c. 15 years by NIGL plus some more recent and important results, primarily from the fascinating Cliffs End, Thanet cemetery. The results are presented below in a table format arranged by broad era and then from lowest to highest values within these eras, with the tooth enamel δ¹⁸Oresults converted to drinking-water values using both the 2010 revised Levinson equation (Drinking-water value A) and the 2008 Daux et al equation (Drinking-water value B). Although only a relatively limited number of archaeological sites have been investigated from Britain using isotope analysis, there is probably now enough for some conclusions to start to be drawn, and a brief discussion and chronological overview of this data is consequently offered after the table.(3)

Burials from Britain with tooth enamel oxygen isotope values of 16.2‰ or lower

Era Site & burial ID  Oxygen isotope value Drinking-water value A Drinking-water value B Strontium value
Early Bronze Age Amesbury – Archer  16.2 -10.0 -9.2 0.709400 & 0.710340
Late Bronze Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3673 14.0 -14.8 -13.0 0.7101
Late Bronze Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 2058/ON101 15.4 -11.7 -10.6 0.7123
Late Bronze Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3649 15.6 -11.3 -10.3 0.7104
Late Bronze Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3680 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 0.7083
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3651 13.9 -15.0 -13.2 0.7088
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3662 14.1 -14.6 -12.9 0.7098
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3656 14.4 -13.9 -12.4 0.7120
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3644 14.5 -13.7 -12.2 0.7090
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3660 15.1 -12.4 -11.1 0.7103
Iron Age Cliffs End, Thanet – 3616 15.4 -11.7 -10.6 0.7105
Roman York – DRIF6-24 14.7 -13.3 -11.8 0.708500
Roman Winchester – Lankhills 081 14.7 -13.3 -11.8 0.709300
Roman York – DRIF-10 15.0 -12.6 -11.3 0.709563
Roman Winchester – Lankhills 426 15.1 -12.4 -11.1 0.709400
Roman Gloucester – 44-77-I46 15.2 -12.2 -11.0 0.711010
Roman Winchester – Ay21-1119 15.8 -10.9 -9.9 0.709416
Roman Winchester – Lankhills 013 15.8 -10.9 -9.9 0.706400 
Roman Winchester – Lankhills 351 16.0 -10.4 -9.6 0.709000
Roman (Iron Age) Galson, Isle of Lewis – Gals-93 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 0.713033
Roman Winchester – Lankhills 357 16.2 -10.0 -9.2 0.709100
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – D48 15.0 -12.6 -11.3 0.711486
Anglo-Saxon Ketton – KCC 065 15.5 -11.5 -10.4 0.710489
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – BH 04/245 15.7 -11.1 -10.1 0.709420
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – BH 06/416 15.8 -10.9 -9.9 0.712764
Anglo-Saxon West Heslerton – G169 15.9 -10.7 -9.7 0.709032
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – BH 03/176 15.9 -10.7 -9.7 0.709995
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – BH 99-134 16.0 -10.4 -9.6 0.710478
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – BH 04/293 16.0 -10.4 -9.6 0.710493
Anglo-Saxon Empingham – EMP-031B 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 -
Anglo-Saxon Ketton – KCC 98 54 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 0.709835
Anglo-Saxon Ketton – KCC 98 9 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 0.709349
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh – D54 16.2 -10.0 -9.2 0.710946
Anglo-Saxon Ketton – KCC 047 16.2 -10.0 -9.2 0.709372
Anglo-Saxon Ketton – KCC 98 40 16.2 -10.0 -9.2 0.709564
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3711 13.7 -15.4 -13.5 0.713770
Viking Oxford – Sk1787 14.9 -12.8 -11.5 0.712919
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3707  15.1 -12.4 -11.1 0.713060
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3704 15.2 -12.2 -11.0 0.711560
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3739 15.4 -11.7 -10.6 0.710890
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3720 15.6 -11.3 -10.3 0.712940
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3724 15.8 -10.9 -9.9 0.720510 
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3744 15.8 -10.9 -9.9 0.710720
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3706 15.9 -10.7 -9.7 0.710320 
Viking Oxford – Sk1898 16.0 -10.4 -9.6 0.710943
Viking Oxford – Sk1990 16.0 -10.4 -9.6 0.710348
Viking Weymouth – WEY08 SK3730 16.1 -10.2 -9.4 0.710130

Finds from the grave of the Amesbury Archer, c. 2300 BC (image: Wessex Archaeology).


In total, just over 5% of the 579 medieval and earlier oxygen isotope results obtained by NIGL up to 2012 are recorded in the above table, and the total corpus of individuals buried in Britain who almost certainly grew up in Scandinavia or central/eastern Europe recorded above is distributed across the entire period of study from the Bronze Age through to the Late Saxon/Viking era. As can be seen from the above, the earliest—and perhaps most famous—of these migrants was the Early Bronze Age individual known as the Amesbury Archer, who was interred in the richest Bronze Age burial known from Britain at Amesbury, near Stonehenge, in c. 2300 BC. Given his gravegoods and the fact that he seems to have consumed drinking-water with an oxygen isotope value of perhaps -10‰ in childhood, it has been argued that it is extremely unlikely that the man spent his childhood in Britain and he instead probably grew up in a mountainous part of central Europe, perhaps Austria, Hungary, parts of Germany or the Czech Republic (see the map included above for an illustration of areas with water oxygen isotope values of -10‰ and lower). Interestingly, the 'Companion' burial found with him had results which suggest he consumed water with an only slightly higher value than the Archer in later childhood, but that he had spent his early childhood somewhere with water values more akin to those found in southern Britain where he was buried.(4)

Moving into the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, some extremely interesting results have recently been obtained from 10 individuals interred at Cliffs End, Thanet, Kent. Four of the Cliffs End individuals belong to the Late Bronze Age (eleventh to ninth centuries BC) and six to the subsequent Early and Middle Iron Ages, and their results suggest the childhood consumption of drinking-water with values primarily between -15.0/-13.2‰ and -11.3/-10.3‰—needless to say, the lowest of these are only really compatible with an early life spent in the more northerly, Arctic parts of Scandinavia, and an origin in Norway or Sweden is thought very probable for most if not all of the rest too.(5) Two things are particularly interesting in this context. The first is that the same cemetery also includes a number of people with values at the opposite end of the scale, indicative of a childhood spent in southernmost Iberia and North Africa, including two individuals (one from the Late Bronze Age and one from the Iron Age) who have the highest δ¹⁸O values ever recorded from Britain, implying that they very probably grew up somewhere like the Nile Delta region, as was discussed in an earlier post.

The second, related point is that recent work on the Bronze Age suggests that there was a significant degree of contact and exchange taking place between the Mediterranean, Iberia and Scandinavia in that era. So, not only have Egyptian and Mesopotamian glass beads been found in Scandinavia and Baltic amber items in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, but recent work on metalwork in Scandinavia suggests the existence of a 'maritime' Atlantic route carrying metal ingots and metalwork north from the Mediterranean/Iberia to Sweden via Britain in the Bronze Age, with tin from Cornwall playing a potentially significant part in this, as a ring-ingot of pure Cornish tin found at Vårdinge, Sweden, and dated to c. 950–700 BC seems to confirm. Indeed, it has been argued that, as part of this, 'ports in the British Isles acted as transit centres for copper from other parts of Europe as well as providing local tin ore' during the Bronze Age.(6) Needless to say, this is a point of considerable interest both in the present context and in light of the southern Iberian/North African isotopic results that were also retrieved from Cliffs End, Thanet, and this site has, in fact, been interpreted as a key strategic 'Late Bronze Age trading centre' within this system, visited by groups from both the north and the south.(7)

Bronze Age amber beads, probably made from Baltic amber, found in the grave of an adolescent at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, dating to around 1550 BC; the boy they were buried with reportedly has a tooth enamel oxygen isotope value of 18.8‰, indicative of an early life spent in southern Iberia (image: Wessex Archaeology, used under their CC BY-NC 3.0 license).

To what degree this degree of contact, exchange and movement occurred elsewhere along the British coast is unclear, due to a general lack of relevant isotopic analysis at other sites, although it is thought likely that similar Atlantic 'transit centres' might exist at obvious nodal sites on the south and east coasts, such as Mount Batten, Plymouth.(8) Similarly, the degree to which such north–south contact and movement persisted into the Iron Age is less clear, although the presence of both Scandinavians and at least some probable North Africans in the Cliffs End cemetery during that era is certainly suggestive. In this context, it is worth observing that previous posts on this site have discussed the increasing archaeological, numismatic, literary and linguistic evidence for Mediterranean traders being active in Iron Age Britain, with Thanet standing out as a possible key centre then too. It might also be cautiously noted that a case has recently been made for the presence of at least some speakers of a Germanic language in East Anglia during the Late Iron Age too, although such a suggestion is certainly not uncontroversial.(9)

Turning to the Roman era, several cemeteries have been subjected to isotopic analysis and a number of these show the presence of people with tooth enamel oxygen isotope results at or below 16.2‰, in particular those at Winchester (Lankhills), York and Gloucester. The most common interpretation of these results is that they represent the presence of people in these Roman cities who grew up elsewhere in the Roman Empire where drinking-water with significantly lower values is found, in particular Roman Pannonia (now split between a number of countries including Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia). In general, this has proven a popular solution for such individuals. There are, however, reasons to be cautious here about assigning all of the Roman-era individuals with very low oxygen isotope results to central European areas within the Roman Empire. First, a contemporary 'Iron Age' burial from Galson on the Isle of Lewis, well beyond the area ever controlled by Rome, also has an oxygen isotope result below 16.2‰, and Scandinavia is surely a more plausible region of origin in this case, at least. Second, one of the people in question is the famous early fifth-century 'Gloucester Goth', whose silver belt fittings have parallels in eastern Europe and south Russia and whose oxygen isotope results have been interpreted as indicating a childhood origin 'way outside of the Roman Empire', in the cold climate of those same areas. Third and finally, nearly half of the Roman-era people listed above have results even more depleted than those of the 'Gloucester Goth' and probably indicative of the childhood consumption of drinking-water with values below -12.4‰, with two of then having results that may reflect drinking water with a exceptionally low value of -13.3‰, whilst at the same time none has a strontium isotope result outside of the range found in Norway and Sweden. In such cases, at least, either a Scandinavian origin or one in the very far east of Europe, beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, might well be considered credible.(10)

A probable late fifth- or early sixth-century buckle tongue, which has its best parallels in finds from Norway and Estonia; found Thimbleby, Lincolnshire (image: PAS).

Looking finally to the post-Roman era, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is at least some isotopic evidence for the presence of immigrants potentially from the Scandinavian peninsula in Britain at that time. Certainly, it is now well-established that the late fifth- to early seventh-century archaeology of eastern England region exhibits strong and convincing cultural links with western Scandinavia right up to Sogn og Fjordane, Norway, which are most credibly explained via a degree of immigration from that area in the immediate post-Roman era followed by a period of continued contact, and it has even been suggested that the East Anglian royal Wuffingas were potentially either of Swedish/Geatish origin or claimed to be so.(11) Similarly, few now doubt the reality of at least a degree of significant Scandinavian settlement in eastern and northern England during the ninth- to eleventh-centuries—the 'Viking Age'—with this being testified to not only by documentary sources, but also by small finds, personal names and place- and field-names.(12) However, several points are worth making when it comes to the isotopic evidence relating to the fifth- to eleventh centuries AD.

The first point is that the evidence from the early part of this period isn't actually quantitatively that much greater than that from other earlier and later eras—some early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, such as those at West Heslerton and Empingham (though not, for example, those at Wasperton or Berinsfield), do include individuals whose tooth enamel oxygen isotope results are below 16.2‰ and thus clearly indicate that they were first-generation immigrants from probably Norway or Sweden, but even where such people occur they are in a significant minority within their cemeteries, representing around 5% or less of the total analysed, similar to the overall proportion for Bronze Age to Late Saxon/Viking Age Britain noted above. This could, of course, simply reflect the fact that the 'core of the Germanic culture' that appears in post-Roman eastern England is still, despite the above, usually considered to derive from the traditional Anglian and Saxon 'homelands' of southern Denmark and northern Germany, where drinking-water oxygen isotope levels are similar to those found in eastern Britain, rendering attempts to use isotopic analysis to positively identify migrants from these areas very difficult, rather than from Norway and Sweden, with their much lower values. It might also reflect any first-generation Norwegian migrants being from more southerly, coastal locales where the drinking-water isotope values are often higher than -9‰ and so within the lower end of the British range. Nonetheless, the lack of any great increase in the number of people with results below 16.2‰ δ¹⁸Op in the immediate post-Roman era is certainly worthy of note.(13)

The second point is that a similar proportion of probable migrants from Norway and Sweden is actually found amongst the people buried in the massive seventh- to early ninth-century Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Bamburgh, Northumberland, despite the fact that this site falls, chronologically, between the above two presumed major periods of post-Roman contact with Scandinavia. So, three of the 21 results from Bamburgh reported in the 2012 catalogue are indicative of the consumption of water with oxygen isotope values between -12.6‰ and -10.0‰, and a further four out of the 91 reported separately in 2013 have similar values—in total, 6.25% of those tested from seventh- to ninth-century Bamburgh have results indicative of an origin in an area with a drinking-water value below -10.0‰. With regard to this, it ought to be emphasised that there is no especial reason to think that movement and contact between Norway/Sweden and Britain must have ceased during the seventh and eighth centuries. Certainly, Bede, for example, writing in the early eighth century at Jarrow mentions both the Arctic phenomenon of the 'midnight sun' and actual Arctic travellers/inhabitants in his In Regum xxx Quaestiones, making reference there to ‘the stories of the elders and the men of our time who come from these regions’ and who ‘see it happen’. It may also be of some significance that documentary sources make it clear that Bamburgh was, in fact, the 'royal city' of the pre-Viking Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. As such, it is perhaps likely to have been more cosmopolitan than the norm, and in this context it is worth observing that there are a number of people buried in the cemetery with exceptionally elevated oxygen isotope results too, indicative of an origin in North Africa.(14)

A 3D view of the Weymouth mass-burial pit containing the remains of 51 decapitated Vikings (image: Oxford Archaeology, used under their CC BY-SA 3.0 license).

The last point is that we seem to be able to identify the burials of at least some Scandinavian people and/or immigrants of the Viking Age in Britain from the oxygen isotope evidence, including at least one potential mass-burial of a failed Viking raiding party. As was noted above, people who grew up in Denmark and some other parts of southern Scandinavia are likely to have oxygen isotope values within the British range and so are both hard to identify isotopically and not considered in the present post. However, even accepting this limitation on the evidence (which, for example, results in the probable Viking warrior in Grave 511 at Repton not being listed above, as his δ¹⁸O results are within the British range), we can still identify some likely Viking Age migrants from Norway and Sweden. Of particular interest here is a mass-burial of 51 decapitated (executed?) men who were buried sometime between AD 970 and 1025 to the north of Weymouth, Dorset, 10 of whom were selected for isotopic analysis. All of these individuals have tooth enamel oxygen isotope results below 16.5‰, equivalent to a drinking-water value of -9.2‰ using the revised Levinson equation, and nine have results sufficiently low to be included in the above table—indeed, 50% have results indicative of the childhood consumption of water with a value of -10‰ on both conversion equations, whilst one actually possesses the lowest value ever recorded from Britain, 13.7‰ δ¹⁸Op, which implies the consumption of drinking-water with a value potentially as low as -15.4‰! Such a result clearly implies a childhood spent in the Arctic, either in an inland area of the most northerly part of Scandinavia or on the southwestern coast of Greenland, based on the IAEA's 2013 RCWIP model and oxygen isotope results reported from the Inuit of Greenland. The latter in particular is an intriguing possibility, given that the Norse settlement of the southwest coast of Greenland took place during the 980s and it is therefore chronologically plausible that someone brought up there might have taken part in a failed Viking raid in perhaps the early eleventh century.(15)

Also of considerable interest, finally, are the isotope results from the late ninth- to mid-eleventh-century Late Saxon cemetery at Ketton, Rutland, although for different reasons. Whilst the burials from Weymouth and Oxford probably represent those of executed Viking raiders, those at Ketton are thought to be the graves of rural workers on a manorial estate in the Danelaw. In such circumstances, the fact that there are no less than five individuals in this cemetery with oxygen isotope results indicative of a Scandinavian origin is both important and intriguing, particularly in terms of the debate over the degree of Scandinavian settlement in the Danelaw—indeed, one individual has a very depleted δ¹⁸Op value of 15.5‰, clearly far outside of the British range and indicative of the consumption of water with a value of perhaps -11.5‰ during an early life spent in Norway, Sweden or Iceland. In this context it is worth observing that whilst the name Ketton is Old English, there is a Normanton—'the farm or estate of the Norwegians'—three miles to the northwest of Ketton, something that is arguably suggestive given the isotope results obtained.(16)


In conclusion, a survey of the total available isotopic evidence for the presence of Scandinavian and central/eastern European people in Britain before the mid-eleventh century AD produces some potentially very interesting results, even if we narrow our focus only to those people who possess results indisputably outside of the British ranges and so exclude all those potential migrants who fall just on the edge of this range or who come from areas such as southern Denmark—or even southernmost, coastal Norway—that have drinking-water oxygen isotope levels that overlap with the lower parts of the British range.

Perhaps the most intriguing conclusion to draw from the above presentation of the evidence is that there was arguably a persistent Scandinavian element in the population of Britain for several millennia, with evidence for such first-generation migrants and settlers not being restricted simply to the 'early Anglo-Saxon' and 'Viking' eras, as might be expected from the documentary and artefactual evidence, but rather occurring throughout the whole period under study. So, for example, people from that region are thought to have been present during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in Kent based on the exceptionally depleted results of people buried there, and it is arguable that at least a proportion of the Roman-era individuals with very low oxygen isotope results may have grown up in Scandinavia too (see above). Similarly, over 6% of the individuals analysed from the seventh- to early ninth-century royal cemetery at Bamburgh, Northumberland, are considered to have grown up in Norway or Sweden, despite the fact that this cemetery falls chronologically between the above two presumed post-Roman episodes of significant British–Scandinavian contact. Of course, we do need to recognise that only a few cemeteries have been properly analysed, that the Thanet and Bamburgh sites have features which suggest that they may be unusual in their degree of cosmopolitanism, and that it cannot be forgotten that any Anglo-Saxon or Viking migrants from, say, Denmark rather than much of Norway and Sweden are largely invisible to the present survey, as was observed above. Nonetheless, the above situation is at the very least intriguing and certainly worthy of note, and might be taken to suggest that a multi-millennial pattern of a degree of British–Scandinavian movement and contact, with peaks and troughs, might be worth some consideration, in contrast to the more usual assumption of simply a handful of discrete, post-Roman migrationary episodes.

With regard to central/eastern European migrants, the situation is rather less clear. The Early Bronze Age Amesbury Archer is certainly believed to fall into this category, and some of the Thanet burials could potentially have such origins, although the highly depleted oxygen isotope values of many of the individuals buried here suggest that Scandinavia is a more plausible place of origin, as the excavators argue. For the Roman period, a central/eastern European origin in perhaps Roman Pannonia has often been favoured for at least some of the people with δ¹⁸O results below the British range, but it arguably doesn't work for them all—around half of the Roman-era individuals listed above have extremely low results of the sort seen at Thanet, and the early fifth-century 'Gloucester Goth' is certainly now usually considered to have origins that lie beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, perhaps in central/eastern Europe or southern Russia. As to the post-Roman period, it is by no means impossible that some of the less extreme oxygen isotope values listed above could reflect people who grew up in the cold areas of central/eastern Europe rather than Norway or Sweden—and a previous post on this site has certainly discussed some possible evidence for Huns, Goths and others in post-Roman Britain—but at present no candidates for such an origin have yet been identified in the published literature.


1     See C. Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (2010), 150–63, and also J. A. Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754–64 at p. 762 with regard to the Amesbury Archer, who has a tooth enamel phosphate oxygen isotope value of 16.2‰.
2     For the two equations used to relate δ¹⁸Op to δ¹⁸Odw, see Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester', pp. 156–7, 159–61 & especially Table A1 which gives both equations, and V. Daux et al, 'Oxygen isotope fractionation between human phosphate and water revisited', Journal of Human Evolution, 55 (2008), 1138–47. For the drinking-water range from Britain, see W. G. Darling et al, 'The O and H stable isotope composition of freshwaters in the British Isles. 2. Surface waters and groundwater', Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 7 (2003), 183–95; for values from Scandinavia and Central/Eastern Europe, see the map included above, which is based on the IAEA's 2013 RCWIP model, and J. I. McKinley et al, 'Dead-sea connections: a Bronze Age and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet', in J. T. Koch & B. Cunliffe (eds.), Celtic from the West 2. Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe (Oxford, 2013), pp. 157–83 at p. 167. For the observation that there are very few environmental, biological, or cultural processes that that can result in human tooth oxygen isotope values that are lower than would be expected on the basis of the consumed drinking-water, see J. Montgomery et al, 'Finding Vikings with isotope analysis: the view from wet and windy islands', Journal of the North Atlantic, 7 (2014), 54–70 at p. 63.
3     The main catalogue is extracted from the data included in Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Supplementary Material I (14 pp.). The Thanet results are taken from McKinley et al, 'Dead-sea connections: a Bronze Age and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet', figs. 6.5 and 6.6; the Oxford results are taken from A. M. Pollard et al, '"Sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat": The St Brice's Day Massacre and the isotopic analysis of human bones from St John's College, Oxford', Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 31 (2012), 83–102; and the additional Bamburgh results are taken from S. E. Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th–9th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151 (2013), 462–76 and Supplementary Materials: Tables.
4     Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', p. 762; C. A. Chenery & J. A. Evans, 'A Summary of the Strontium and Oxygen Isotope Evidence for the Origins of Bell Beaker individuals found near Stonehenge', in A. P . Fitzpatrick (ed.), The Amesbury Archur and the Boscombe Bowmen: Bell Beaker Burials at Boscombe Down, Amesbury, Wiltshire (Salisbury, 2011), pp. 185–90.
5     McKinley et al, 'Dead-sea connections: a Bronze Age and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet', pp. 167–8.
6     J. Varberg et al, 'Between Egypt, Mesopotamia and Scandinavia: Late Bronze Age glass beads found in Denmark', Journal of Archaeological Science, 54 (2015), 168–81; A. J. Mukherjee et al, 'The Qatna lion: scientific confirmation of Baltic amber in late Bronze Age Syria', Antiquity, 82 (2008), 49–59; J. Ling et al, 'Moving metals II: provenancing Scandinavian Bronze Age artefacts by lead isotope and elemental analyses', Journal of Archaeological Science, 41 (2014), 106–32, quotation at p. 126. See also J. Ling & C. Uhnér, 'Rock art and metal trade', Adoranten, 21 (2014), 23–43, and T. Earle et al, 'The political economy and metal trade in Bronze Age Europe: understanding regional variability in terms of comparative advantages and articulations', European Journal of Archaeology, 18.4 (2015), 633–57, esp. pp. 642–4.
7     Ling & Uhnér, 'Rock art and metal trade', pp. 35–9, and see now J. I. McKinley et al, Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent. A Mortuary and Ritual Site of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon Period with Evidence for Long-Distance Maritime Mobility (Salisbury, 2014).
8     Ling & Uhnér, 'Rock art and metal trade', p. 37; B. Cunliffe, Mount Batten, Plymouth: a Prehistoric and Roman Port (Oxford, 1988). Note, a possible three-holed Bronze Age stone Mediterranean anchor from Plymouth Sound has been mentioned in news reports relating to the SHIPS Project/ProMare, but is as yet unidentified on the database for this project; see T. Nichols, 'Unique project launched to shed light on hidden treasures in Plymouth Sound', Plymouth Herald, 5 July 2014, online at, although it should be remembered that the dating and geographical origins of such stone anchors is open to debate.
9     See especially C. R. Green, 'Thanet, Tanit and the Phoenicians: place-names, archaeology and pre-Roman trading settlements in eastern Kent?', 21 April 2015, blog post, online at, and 'A Mediterranean anchor stock of the fifth to mid-second century BC found off the coast of Britain', 29 August 2015, blog post, online at; D. Nash Briggs, 'The language of inscriptions on Icenian coinage', in J. A. Davies (ed.), The Iron Age in Northern East Anglia: New Work in the Land of the Iceni (Oxford), pp. 83–102.
10     J. Evans et al, 'A strontium and oxygen isotope assessment of a possible fourth century immigrant population in a Hampshire cemetery, southern England', Journal of Archaeological Science, 33 (2006), 265–72; H. Eckardt et al, 'Oxygen and strontium isotope evidence for mobility in Roman Winchester', Journal of Archaeological Science, 36 (2009), 2816–25; G. Müldner et al, 'The ‘Headless Romans’: multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain', Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (2011), 280–90; M. Pitts, 'Wealthy man in Roman Gloucester was migrant Goth', British Archaeology, 113 (2010), 7; BBC News, 'Gloucester body "is Goth warrior"', 9 October 2009, news report including quotation by D. Rice, curator at Gloucester City Museum, online at; H. Eckardt et al, 'People on the move in Roman Britain', World Archaeology, 46 (2014), 534–50 at p. 537. For the expected Strontium isotope ranges from Norway and Sweden, see further K. J. Knudson et al, 'Migration and Viking Dublin: paleomobility and paleodiet through isotopic analyses', Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (2012), 308–20 at pp. 310–11.
11     See especially J. Hines, The Scandinavian Character of Anglian England in the Pre-Viking Period, BAR British Series 124 (Oxford, 1984); J. Hines, 'The Scandinavian character of Anglian England: an update', in M. O. H. Carver (ed.), The Age of Sutton Hoo: the Seventh Century in North-western Europe (Woodbridge, 1992), pp. 315–29; and now also J. Hines, 'The origins of East Anglia in a North Sea Zone', in D. Bates & R. Liddiard (edd.), East Anglia and its North Sea World in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, 2013), pp. 16–43. On the Wuffingas theory, see S. Newton, 'Beowulf and the East Anglian royal pedigree', in M. O. H. Carver (ed.), The Age of Sutton Hoo: the Seventh Century in North-western Europe (Woodbridge, 1992), pp. 65–74, and S. Newton, The Origins of Beowulf and the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Woodbridge, 1993). See also, for example, the evidence for a link between the Sleaford region and the Baltic in the early Anglo-Saxon period, including some possible ceramic evidence for connection between people in the Sleaford inhumation cemetery and those living on the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland—on Sleaford and the early Anglo-Saxon importation of amber, see for example Green, Britons and Anglo-Saxons: Lincolnshire AD 400650 (Lincoln, 2012), pp. 191–4; on the possible ceramic evidence, see J. N. L. Myres, 'The Anglo-Saxon Pottery of Lincolnshire', Archaeological Journal, 108 (1951), 65–99 at pp. 68–9, 81, 99.
12     On the course of the Viking conquests and their impact, a good general overview is available in D. M. Hadley’s The Vikings in England: Settlement, Society and Culture (Manchester, 2006), and her The Northern Danelaw: Its Social Structure, c. 800–1100 (London, 2000); P. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire (Lincoln, 1998), and K. Leahy, The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey (Stroud, 2007), are useful on the evidence for settlement in one of the most affected areas of eastern England—note especially Kevin Leahy's discussion of the small finds reported in recent years by metal detectorists. On place-names and field-names, there are innumerable published discussions, but see perhaps L. Abrams and D. N. Parsons, ‘Place-names and the history of Scandinavian settlement in England’, in J. Hines et al (eds.), Land, Sea and Home (Leeds, 2004), pp. 379–431, which argues in favour of the Scandinavian influence on place-names, field-names and personal names being together sufficient to indicate that there was a substantial influx of Scandinavian immigrants in the Viking era.
13     Results from all four of the cemeteries mentioned are tabulated in Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Supplementary Material I (14 pp.), although they have also been separately published too, for example in S. S. Church et al, 'Anglo-Saxon origins investigated by isotopic analysis of burials from Berinsfield, Oxfordshire, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 42 (2014), 81–92, and P. Budd et al, 'Investigating population movement by stable isotope analysis: a report from Britain', Antiquity, 78 (2004), 127–41 at pp. 134–6. On the core of early Anglo-Saxon material culture still being considered to primarily derive from southern Denmark and northern Germany, see Hines, 'The origins of East Anglia in a North Sea Zone', esp. p. 39 (quotation), and also, for example, T. Williamson, 'The environmental contexts of Anglo-Saxon settlement', in N. J. Higham & M. J. Ryan (edd.), The Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester, 2010), pp. 133–56 at pp. 147–52, along with the other references cited in my very brief discussion of this in a previous post: C. R. Green, 'Were there Huns in Anglo-Saxon England? Some thoughts on Bede, Priscus & Attila', 25 July 2015, blog post, online at On drinking-water levels for southernmost Norway, see the map above and also the earlier BGS/C. Chenery map from 2004: 'Oxygen isotopes values for modern European drinking water' (map), online at Note, whilst identifying first-generation Anglo-Saxon migrants to Britain from southern Denmark and northern Germany is extremely difficult using isotopic analysis, as mentioned above, it may be possible to identify first-generation migrants from northern Denmark/Jutland by looking for immediately post-Roman individuals with relatively enriched results compared to what might be expected, as lake waters from those areas are unusually enriched compared to their local precipitation due to exceptional evaporation—see further on this Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', pp. 758 & 760.
14     The results from Bamburgh are reported in Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Supplementary Material I (14 pp.), and S. E. Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th–9th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151 (2013), 462–76. On Bamburgh as 'the royal city' of Northumbria, see for example Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, III.6; note, the Jarrow area where Bede was based was itself the second royal centre of pre-Viking Northumbria, see I. N. Wood, ‘Bede’s Jarrow’ in C. A. Lees & G. R. Overing (eds), A Place to Believe In: Locating Medieval Landscapes (Philadelphia, 2006), pp. 76, 79–80, 83. For Bede's reference to Arctic visitors in early eighth-century Northumbria, see Bedae Venerabilis. Opera. Pars II. Opera Exegetica 2, ed. D. Hurst (Turnhout, 1962), p. 317, and see F. Michelet, Creation, Migration, and Conquest. Imaginary Geography and Sense of Space in Old English Literature (Oxford, 2006), pp. 128-29, for discussion and translation; contemporary Irish and arguably Welsh knowledge of the Arctic 'midnight sun' is discussed in Green, 'An alternative interpretation of Preideu Annwwfyn, lines 23–8', Studia Celtica, 43 (2009), 207–13. There is also some artefactual evidence for contacts between eastern England and Scandinavia in the seventh century that is worthy of note, such as a class of small, seventh-century figurines that are found in East Anglia, Sweden and Russia: H. Geake, 'Figurine SF5471', PAS finds database, 8 September 2014, online at, & 'Figurine SF3807', PAS finds database, 8 September 2014, online at On the people with elevated oxygen isotope results indicative of North African origins, see C. R. Green, 'Some oxygen isotope evidence for long-distance migration to Britain from North Africa & southern Iberia, c. 1100 BC–AD 800', 24 October 2015, blog post, online at, and Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th–9th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', p. 470.
15     On the Weymouth Vikings, see C. A. Chenery et al, 'A Boat Load of Vikings?', Journal of the North Atlantic, 7 (2014–15), 43–53; another similar probable mass-burial of Vikings has been found at Oxford, see A. M. Pollard et al, '"Sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat": The St Brice's Day Massacre and the isotopic analysis of human bones from St John's College, Oxford', Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 31 (2012), 83–102. On Repton Grave 511, which contained the body of a mature male who appears to have died in battle and was buried with a sword, a silver Thor’s hammer, and a boar’s tusk, see, for example, J. D. Richards, 'Pagans and Christians at the frontier: Viking burial in the Danelaw', in M. O. H. Carver (ed.), The Cross Foes North: Processes of Conversion in Northern Europe, AD 300–1300 (York/Woodbridge, 2003), pp. 383–95, and J. Montgomery et al, 'Finding Vikings with isotope analysis: the view from wet and windy islands', Journal of the North Atlantic, 7 (2014–15), 54–70 at p. 65. On the possibility that one of the Weymouth Vikings might have grown up in southwestern Greenland in the late tenth century, compare Montgomery et al, 'Finding Vikings with isotope analysis: the view from wet and windy islands', pp. 61–2, discussing an individual with a similarly depleted oxygen isotope value who is buried in Dublin.
16     The results from Ketton are presented and discussed in S. P. Tatham, Aspects of Health and Population Studies in Northern Europe Between the Tenth and Twelfth Centuries (University of Leicester PhD Thesis, 2004), pp. 43–4, 68–72, 77–8, 80-91. Note, the analysis of the isotopic data in this thesis is somewhat out of step with modern approaches; it is reinterpreted in the present post in light of Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain' (2012), and other more recent research, and the tooth enamel results have been furthermore converted afresh to drinking-water values using the 2010 and 2008 equations noted above. On Normanton, see B. Cox, The Place-names of Rutland (Nottingham, 1994), p. 201.

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