Archaeologists find Viking 'drinking hall' on island off Scotland

Remnants date back to 12th century

By Jack Guy and Zoya Ansari, CNN
Bobby Friel @Takethehighview

A large Norse "drinking hall" was discovered on an island of Scotland, archaeologists say, and is believed to have been used by a Viking chieftain named Earl Sigurd way back in the 12th century.

(CNN) - Hark! Bring your finest ale and celebrate!

A large Norse "drinking hall" was discovered on an island of Scotland, archaeologists say, and is believed to have been used by a Viking chieftain named Earl Sigurd way back in the 12th century.

The discovery was made by a team of students and island residents of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archeology Institute last week who were digging at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay.

Dating back to the 10th century, the massive structure is held up by 3.3 feet-wide stone walls panning about 18 feet apart, with stone benches running along each side.

Totaling to an expansive 42.6-foot passage, the structure's discovery also came with a soap stone from Shetland, pottery, and a fragment of a Norse bone comb.

"We have recovered a millennia of middens which will allow us an unparalleled opportunity to look at changing dietary traditions, farming and fishing practices from the Norse period up until the 19th Century," said project co-director Dr Ingrid Mainland.

Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga, a historical narrative of the region, as a home of the Viking chieftain.

Dan Lee, co-director of the excavation project, said "The exciting news this season is that we have now found the hall at Skaill, as the place name suggests."

According to the UHI Archaeology Institute, the name "Skaill" suggests the site was once a popular Norse drinking hall, and location for high status community members to gather and kick back.

"You never know, but perhaps Earl Sigurd himself sat on one of the stone benches inside the hall and drank a flagon of ale!" Lee said.

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