reconstruct face of 3000 year old viking woman

Scientists Reconstruct the face of a 1,000-Year-Old Viking Warrior Woman

The skeleton of a Viking woman who was buried in Soloør, Norway alongside a hoard of deadly weaponry was ‘brought to life’ using facial recognition technology. She lived over 1,000 years ago, and her remains are now preserved in Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History.[1]

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With cutting-edge facial recognition technology, British scientists have brought her features to life. While her remains had already been identified as female, her grave was never marked to indicate whether or not she was a warrior, however, it was curious that this Viking woman was buried alongside arrows, a sword, a spear, and an axe leading experts to believe she was indeed a warrior. 

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Researchers had discovered the dent in the woman’s skull, which was found to be consistent with a sword wound, which would have been a strong blow to the head, as the blade cut her right to the bone.

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Scientists studying the Viking woman’s fractured skull 1,000 years later still aren’t sure whether the hit actually killed her, however, the collection of weapons buried with her make it clear to some, that she died a warrior nonetheless.

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This is not the first time evidence has pointed towards the long-held belief that all Viking Warriors were men. In 2017 a study showed that a Viking skeleton buried with weapons, that was initially assumed to be a man, was actually a woman following DNA analysis [2].  However, this recent find is first of its kind evidence showing a woman with what is presumed to be a battle wound Ella Al-Shamahi who reported to the Guardian [1].   

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Ella Al-Shamahi is an explorer, paleoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist. She specializes in the study of Neanderthals, and is also the presenter and producer of BBC2’s Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors. 

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Ella has traveled all across Scandinavia, examining Viking burial sites and using visualization techniques to reconstruct the contents.

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This Viking warrior facial reconstruction is said to be featured in an upcoming National Geographic documentary, entitled Viking Warrior Women, which will air on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday 3 December.

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This technology is surely impressive, but can it really be that accurate for someone who is 1000 years old? 

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Well, according to Dr Caroline Erolin, a senior lecturer at the University of Dundee in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, “The resulting reconstruction is never 100 percent accurate, but is enough to generate recognition from someone who knew them well in real life.” [1]

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While women at the time were at risk of being overpowered in hand-to-hand combat, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t women warriors. They could deal some serious damage with arrows and riding horseback, and there were likely many who also wielded weapons. 

It’s rather impressive what we are able to do with technology in 2019. Since there are plenty of Viking burial grounds in the world, we shouldn’t rule out that more female warriors may be unearthed in the future. 

If you would like to visit the Viking Woman Warrior of Soloør you can find her on display boasting her weapons and war wound at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway, until Nov. 22.


Gemma Fischer
Freelance writer
Gemma is a Halifax-based freelance writer. She specializes in writing blog posts and creating social media content for creative businesses. When Gemma isn’t writing, she can be found reading, sipping on holy basil tea, thrifting, hiking and doing her best at practicing the art of slow living.
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