ATP’s conservation work on the artefacts from the Viking boat burial is being undertaken by Pieta Greaves of AOC Archaeology, Edinburgh. Pieta has been giving us some great updates about what she has been finding throughout this process and we thought it would be nice to share some with you!
Pieta has informed us that the axe head that we found has mineralised remains of the wooden shaft still attached to it and there is mineralised wood on the base of the ladle bowl, which is likely to be from the boat and should provide good material for wood identification. There are mineralised organics on the interior of the ladle bowl, so far unidentifiable.
Amazingly, the sword may have mineralised leather forming the remains of the sheath or scabbard. The fine, interlacing fibres of the warp and weft of preserved textiles can also be seen on the sheath/scabbard, and these suggest that the sword may have either been wrapped in textile prior to being placed in the boat, or covered with some of the clothing that the deceased Viking was buried in. A beautiful silver niello decoration, forming a chequered pattern across the sword pommel and hilt, is beginning to shine through the rust and centuries of decay. The sword hilt may be of bone/antler or ivory with a bronze core; the blade is of iron.
The full report will be included as an appendix in our 2012 Data Structure Report for the Viking boat burial which we will post in the coming months.