On Wednesday the 19th August 2015, TV Historian, Dan Snow came to the Dorset County Museum to film his latest BBC TV series exploring the age of the Vikings.
This programme will feature the discovery of a mass grave of skeletons in 2009 on Ridgeway Hill during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset. Around 50 skeletons, predominantly of young Scandinavian adult males, were found in an old quarry pit. All had been decapitated. Their heads had been placed in a pile located at one edge of the grave.
Dr. Louise Loe, Head of Heritage Burial Services at Oxford Archaeology discussed with Dan the evidence in identifying these individuals, their origins and even their state of health.
The remains of these Ridgeway Vikings and other important archaeology treasures will be on permanent display in the museum’s newly refurbished Ancient Dorset Gallery. The refurbishment of this gallery has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Scheme, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Alice Ellen Cooper-Dean Charitable Foundation.
The Ancient Dorset gallery at Dorset County Museum will become the visitor centre for the South Dorset Ridgeway. Ultimately it will link in with information panels to be displayed along the ridgeway itself helping visitors explore this area which is rich in heritage. This landscape is considered by many to be as important as Stonehenge and Avebury for revealing the lives of our ancestors. The ridge of high land, running parallel with the coast between Weymouth and Dorchester has been an important place for people for over five thousand years. It has over 1,000 monuments that record the history of the Ridgeway since that time.
Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said “The archaeology of Dorset is the history of over 400,000 years of human habitation in the county – our collections are nationally significant and cover the entire period from Palaeolithic times to Saxon and Viking Dorset, so it will be especially exciting for the Museum to be featured in this programme which will be screened later this year.”
- New Book of a remarkable Viking age mass burial near Weymouth featured in British Museum Viking Exhibition