Old and Rare Video Footage

Scientists reconstruct the face of 1,000-year-old female with a ‘battle wound’ on her skull

Scientists have re-created the face of a female Viking warrior who lived more than 1,000 years ago.

The woman is based on a skeleton found in a Viking graveyard in Solør, Norway, and is now preserved in Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History.

While the remains had already been identified as female, the burial site had not been considered that of a warrior ‘simply because the occupant was a woman’, archaelogist Ella Al-Shamahi told The Guardian.

But now British scientists have brought the female warrior to life using cutting-edge facial recognition technology.

And scientists found the woman was buried with a hoard of deadly weaponry including arrows, a sword, a spear and an axe.

Researchers also discovered a dent in her head, which rested on a shield in her grave, that was consistent with a sword wound.

It is unclear whether the brutal injury was the cause of her death however it is believed to be ‘the first evidence ever found of a Viking woman with a battle injury’, according to Ms Al-Shamahi.

She added: I’m so excited because this is a face that hasn’t been seen in 1,000 years… She’s suddenly become really real.’

The expert who is a specialist in ancient human remains is set to present a National Geographic documentary featuring the reconstruction.

The face was built up anatomically working from the muscles and layering of the skin.

Dr Caroline Erolin, a senior lecturer at the University of Dundee in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification which worked on the reconstruction said: ‘The resulting reconstruction is never 100 per cent accurate, but is enough to generate recognition from someone who knew them well in real life.’

Ella Al-Shamahi comes face to face with the Viking woman’s skull. Photograph: Eloisa Noble/National Geographic

The technology also recreated the woman’s grave showing the placement of the weapons.

The documentary shows Ms Al-Shamahi travelling across Scandinavia examining Viking burial sites and using visualisation techniques to reconstruct the contents.

Ms Al-Shamahi said while women risked being overpowered in hand-to-hand combat, they could have fired deadly arrows from horseback over longer distances making them ‘an equal match for men’.

Viking expert and archaeological consultant on the project Professor Neil Price added: ‘There are so many other burials in the Viking world… It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we find more (female warriors).’

Viking Warrior Women airs on National Geographic on Tuesday 3 December at 8pm.

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