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A decade later, the town and surrounding area fall within the newly established Danelaw territories, and the Mercian royal family flees to safety.6 That is all information about the Great Heathen Army at Repton known until 2016. Ivar was noted as a man of exceptional cruelty and ferocity, and his nickname may indicate that he lacked legs, or may simply mean that he was long-legged or tall. Archaeological evidence for the Viking Great Army that invaded England in AD 865 is focused particularly on the area around St Wystan's church at Repton in Derbyshire. While the Viking presence at Repton has captured most popular interest (see below), it was the pre-Viking archaeology that drew me here. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that the Viking Great Army camped over winter in Repton between 873 and 874, so it was assumed that this was a part of the Viking winter camp. West of the church stood a small chapel that the Vikings made into a burial chamber. The Heath Wood barrow group should now take its rightful place as one of the most important sites of early Viking Age England. The Biddles believe him to be Ivar the Boneless, possibly the brother of Healfdeane, one of the leaders of the Viking force at Repton in 873-4. Repton crypt, dating from the first half of the 8th century, is of exceptional interest.Constructed perhaps as a baptistery, later a royal mausoleum, then a place of pilgrimage to St Wystan, it is one of the oldest and most important examples of Anglo-Saxon architecture to survive intact. Archaeologists found several Viking warrior graves in 1985, at the east end of St.Wystans Church in Repton. FIGURE 2). In the 1970s and 1980s, investigations at Repton revealed evidence of a 9th-century Viking army camp, as well as a mass grave thought to contain their battle dead. Repton was a signifi cant royal and ecclesiastical centre but became a Viking stronghold. At this location Martin and his late wife, Birthe, unearthed the remains of the Viking Great Army that had overwintered there in 873-4. Who was the exceptional individual worthy of such an outstanding communal burial effort? A lost Viking army which was a "key part" of the creation of England may have been identified by archaeologists. The Battle of Repton is an important battle in the Vikings series. A broken Anglo-Saxon cross shaft. Now new analysis and excavations have shed vivid new light on the nature of these remains, and given hints of a possible second camp nearby. Huge collection, amazing choice, 100+ million high quality, affordable RF and RM images. Father Neil Roberts Fr Roberts has previously been a Head of Religion and Philosophy and a boarding master. The warrior had fallen from a blow to the skull, and whilst on the ground had been despatched with a sword-cut that had severed the femoral artery. Repton. In an abutting grave was a second male inhumation, aged around 20, perhaps a retainer to his older companion. For a Swedish radio interview with Professor Biddle on the same subject, click here. 2 The Vikings destroy the latter by 874. Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye–Biddle, ‘Repton and the Vikings,’ In: Catrine L. Jarman, Martin Biddle, Tom Higham and Christopher Bronk Ramsey, ‘The Viking Great Army in England: New Dates from the Repton Charnel.’ In. Finally, at the southwest corner of the heap was a large pit containing four juvenile skeletons, one accompanied by a sheep's jaw. Eighty percent of the remains were male, between the ages of 18 and 45. Both burials had been subsequently covered with an oblong setting of broken sandstones heaped up over the double-grave. Repton Walk This walk commences in the village of REPTON on the B5008 to the north-west of Burton on Trent. St. Wystan's Church is an Anglican parish church in Repton, Derbyshire that is famous for its Anglo-Saxon crypt which is the burial place of two Mercian kings. Other intact Scandinavian-type burials in the vicinity included one with a gold finger-ring, and was neatly dated by five silver pennies minted in the mid-870s. Now new analysis and excavations have shed vivid new light on the nature of these remains, and given hints of a possible second camp nearby. The battle results in an overwhelming victory for the Norsemen, who were able to trap the outnumbered Saxon forces and inflict them considerable casualties. The long slots on the right mark the graves of later burials. The Viking buried in Repton was put to rest together with 250 warriors who most likely all died during the battle. The crypt was constructed in the early 8th century; it was built over a spring and is thought to have originally been a baptistery. They were working in alliance with a king from a rival family to that of the ousted Burgred, and who may have been related to Wigstan. [Bone analysis shows that only one of these may have been local.] This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Repton is a fascinating place, whose early history includes such irresistible elements as a murdered Mercian prince, a fearsome Viking leader, St Guthlac, and Cnut - not to mention an extraordinary Anglo-Saxon crypt. So, when archaeologists led by Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle excavated a mass grave at St. Wystan's Church in Repton in the 1980s, they expected to find Viking remains. It must have been of some importance because it was shown to have not one but two priests serving the parish church at that time. The Viking dig in the grounds of St Wystan Church in Repton is one of the most important Viking sites of modern times. Heavy timber joists had then been laid on the tops of the cut-down walls to form a roof subsequently covered with flat slabs. Archaeologists found several Viking warrior graves in 1985, at the east end of St.Wystans Church in Repton. They were probably soldiers who had died during the campaign, subsequently exhumed and piled in the chamber to lie with the body of their leader. When the family converts to Christianity, a church with a crypt for the royal family and a double abbey are built. The Biddles found a group of important Viking interments in the present churchyard, immediately north and south of the crypt. Some 100 years later the landowner George Guilbert reinvestigated the site, but merely reported finding 'a vault' in which 'were found vast quantities of human bones, as if collected ... and thrown in a heap together.' The original excavation by the Biddles’ is revisited and its data reassessed with new technologies available to the researchers now.8 For example, bio-archaeological techniques to confirm the background of the remains in the mass grave. In 1538 the priory of Repton (but not St. Wystan’s) fell victim to King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. 3 Though Repton has been a place of religious and political importance, it remains a quiet, quaint village today. South of the chancel were three other contemporary graves, though none contained weapons. Just to the right of the feet of the nearest skeleton are the jaws of a sheep. A lost Viking army which was a "key part" of the creation of England may have been identified by archaeologists. And less than a mile away lies Heath Wood, the region’s only large-scale Viking cremation cemetery—an impractical investment for a single winter’s camp. You should park either by the church, or the public car park just off Burton Road. Finally, in 1914, the supercilious cleric and antiquary Charles Cox dug a narrow trench across the area and later wrote that 'ignorance and folly had entirely destroyed what remains there may have been'. West of the church stood a small chapel that the Vikings made into a burial chamber. Credit: Repton Church. These were further hints that the encampment must have been in the general area surrounding St Wystan's. 3 Though Repton has been a place of religious and political importance, it remains a quiet, quaint village today. Repton Walk This walk commences in the village of REPTON on the B5008 to the north-west of Burton on Trent. Walker removed the skull of the main burial, but this was soon lost. Type and Period (1) FINDSPOT (Saxon - 800 AD to 1000 AD) Protected Status/Designation. 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