Mass grave in Wales may provide evidence of a Dark Ages slave trade by the Vikings

A mysterious mass grave that dates back some 1,600 years was discovered underneath a college in Wales and suggests that during the Dark Ages, Vikings may well have been involved in the slave trade, according to Ancient Origins:

“The [86] skeletons were taken away from the site for further tests and it was determined that the graves dated from approximately 1,600 years ago. The Daily Mail reports that ‘They were likely buried in the early medieval period after the Romans left Britain.’ This is the period known as the Dark Ages when civilization virtually collapsed in Europe. In the British Isles, it was a period of endemic warfare and when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Northumberland, and Mercia started to emerge.”

One of the skeletons found underneath a college in Wales. (Via Archaeology Wales)

When the first discovered the remains, researchers expected an isotope analysis would reveal the bones to have belonged to local residents who lived in the area during the Dark Ages. Instead, they found that they were from people across the European continent. Dr. Irene Garcia Rovira of Archaeology Wales noted:

“Some individuals came from western Britain, where the border is today between England and Wales, a couple from Scandinavia and a couple from Mediterranean places like Spain.”

Could the remains be evidence of an extensive slave trade created and controlled by the Vikings?


Bones from the ancient burial ground (Via Archaeology Wales)

In the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire, it was believed that long distance travel had become almost non-existent due to ongoing warfare and a total breakdown of the trade network across Europe. So it made no sense that people from so many different regions had come to rest in Wales.

And that’s when the theory of a Viking slave trade came to the fore:

“It appears that many Irish settlers migrated to the island. Dublin at this time was one of the centers of the slave trade in Europe. Those who were buried in the graves were possibly slaves that had been brought to Anglesey by the Vikings based in Ireland. However, it appears that Anglesey was only under the control of the Dublin Norse for a few years and why so many people from so far away were buried at the site is still a mystery.”

A Roman coin dating back 1,800 years that was found at the burial site in Wales (Via Archaeology Wales)

There were other odd things about the mass grave, too:

The Daily Mail reports that the ‘’experts were puzzled to find the mass grave included more females than males.’ Why this is the case is unknown. The majority of the remains came from people who died in their mid-forties.”

More study of the site is planned, and that could help reveal more facts about the Dark Ages that will better help us understand a period in history which remains largely shrouded in mystery.


Here’s more on the role the Vikings played in the ancient slave trade:


Featured Image Via Max Pixel

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