2010 Archeology News Recap: September

There aren’t many ancient recipes that have survived the test of time, but when it comes to Viking brew , there are a few good men bringing the concept back to life. In this article, you will also earn the details on a mass gravesite located in northern Poland.

Mass Grave Discovery

Northern Poland is the site of a mass grave discovery that dates back to the 17th century , a site situated close to Golancz Castle. The history of the castle is significant because it is said that about 80 Polish gentry, clergy, and peasants lost their lives while they attempted to save the castle from a Swedish army. It is believed that their bodies have been located at the site.

It was May 3rd 1656, when the Swedish army attacked Golancz Castle. The local gentry, clergy and peasants tried to defend the castle, but were no match for the army. Archeologists are confident that they have located the bodies of those who bravely faced the army. Three layers of the ground have already been unearthed and the remains of 17 people were uncovered.

Researchers feel that after the siege took place at the castle, the Swedes killed several hundred defenders and dug a large secret grave in the yard situated beside the castle. The circumstances of this event are interesting because the location of the mass grave remained a mystery , mostly because the castle kitchen was located right next to it.

The arrangement of the skeletons suggests that the bodies were tossed into the grave and not given a proper burial. Some of the skulls had been broken, which indicates that the injured were killed with cobble stones before being thrown into the grave. Their clothing and personal belongings were also removed from the bodies, as no evidence of such items were found in the graves.

Ancient Alcoholic Beverages  

Irish archaeologists have taken an interest in duplicating the ancient recipes and traditions of beer making, especially paying attention to the way the Vikings made their brew. In the past, a heather ale was consumed by marauding Vikings in an effort to enhance their fierceness during battles. This month, it was reported that a team of archaeologists were successful recreating the same drink.

For the past three years, it has been the goal of Galway archaeologists Billy Quinn and Nigel Malcolm alongside businessman Declan Moore to create Bronze Age brews using some of the ancient recipes and beer-making traditions of Ireland. Using a recipe thought to date back to the 8th century AD, the men have brewed their first heather ale. The difference in their creation (called ‘Bheoir Lochlannachis’) is that instead of using hops as an ingredient, the ale is made from heather and barley.

The men added herb bog myrtle to give the drink a distinct flavor, as well as to preserve the potion. Where did they get the recipe in the first place? There was a list of ingredients and directions printed in the  ‘Ulster Journal of Archaeology’ in 1859, which was meant to represent a drink from the early Christian and Viking period. The Vikings of this time period used a cooking pit heated with stones to cause the beer to ferment in a large pot.