During work on a square in Falköping, the town closest to Grimfrost, an interesting find was made in November 2016. It’s always fantastic when these puzzles are unearthed, and it’s naturally even more fun when it happens right where you dwell. It makes the world a bit more magical.
What happened was that two skeletons were unearthed – both with their heads carefully placed between their legs. Analysis on the remains was completed a few days ago and it tells a captivating story. The skeletons proved to be the remains of two large sized men, one of them 30-35 years of age and the other one 35-40 years of age. They lived in the latter part of the 900s, which corresponds with the Viking Age here in Sweden. The men had been professionally beheaded, which is evident in that only one, clean cut of an axe was required to severe their heads.
The men were clearly executed in a settlement by someone who was experienced within the field, which speaks for a public execution rather than a murder. A public execution would in turn require some form of trial followed by the death sentence. This is a rare occurrence during the Viking Age, since most criminals were condemned to banishment – not death. Beheadings did take place though, but they were usually seen in times of war where captured foes were put to death. Our guess is that the men weren’t a part of the community, and banishing a stranger has little effect. They were thus treated as foes and sentenced to death. They could also have been captured enemies, since who knows what wars and conflicts raged here between chieftains 1000 years ago.
There are speculations whether the men could be brothers. Their comparing large size and similar age could definitively point in that direction, but at the same time it’s just a guess. They could very well be a pair of teamed up thugs who happened to mess with the wrong people, or warriors in the force of an enemy chieftain.
What about their heads that were placed between their legs? Was it an insult in death, also having an effect in afterlife? Could it be a way of preventing them from haunting the living? The only thing that can be said with certainty is that they weren’t buried according to any Heathen or Christian customs, which is a serious statement during those times.
We lean towards the men being roaming thugs who happened to wander into the settlement, where they were caught during a serious crime – perhaps a theft or rape gone wrong, ending up in murder. The heads between the legs speak for this, since it feels like too much of an insult to be thrown at enemy warriors. Enemy warriors would also have had a greater value as hostages.
Original story published here: http://www.falkopingstidning.se/article/halshoggs-pa-vikingatiden/ and here: http://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/vast/tva-man-hittade-brutalt-mordade-halshoggs