New Archaeological Research Provides Evidence for Female Warriors - and Hnefatafl Players!
Monday, 11th September 2017
In the past, the presence of weaponry in a Viking burial has suggested that the deceased was male. Recent research by researchers at Uppsala and Stockholm University has turned this assumption on its head.
At Birka in Sweden, there are thousands of burials, of which over a thousand have been excavated. One, grave 581, contains the various accoutrements of a high status warrior, including a sword, arrows, and two horses.
While the items buried with the person fuelled the assumption that they were male, the skeleton's bone structure appeared to be female,. The contradiction was resolved with a DNA test that this "military man" turned out to be a military woman.
The news is of particular interest to hnefatafl players because grave 1 also contains a hnefatafl set made of bone or antler. This, along with the evidence of Gunnlaug's saga, show that hnefatafl was considered a pursuit of both sexes. There are 28 pieces in the set, but this includes fragments, some of which may be part of the same piece. Some of the pieces have a conical top.
The full report can be found here.