How do we live forever? The bone-hard truth is, we can't. However, some manage to live on, frozen in a moment. That's what happened at Sandbyborg, on the island of Öland, off the coast of Sweden. THREAD /1

Sandbyborg was an Iron Age hillfort, that would later become a settlement for the ancestors of the Norse. It comprised fifty odd houses, surrounded by a wall, the sea on one side, boulders on the other - easily defended. /2

Or so they thought. One spring day, around 480CE, someone - nobody knows who - attacked Sandbyborg, slaughtering possibly hundreds. A smash and grab raid, those murdered were left where they fell. /3

The twenty six-odd dead found so far comprise men, women & children. Many of the human remains showed evidence of being attacked from behind, or executed. An old man and a child were found lying across the fireplace. /4

There must have been some warning, because the inhabitants of Sandbyborg were able to hide coins and jewelry - including some with Roman links - suggesting an affluent, well-off settlement. They seem to have done well from farming. /5

While it might seem horrific to us, such a raid isn't unknown. It  seems to have taken place during the Western Migration Period, when tribes on the move clashed over land & resources after Rome fell. Raiding, whether for profit or to settle scores, was a threat. /6

What might seem odd to us is the fact that the site was completely abandoned after the raid. The dead were never recovered. Perhaps the site was considered cursed? We may never know. /7

We’ve been able to learn much from the site, that was first excavated to protect it from treasure-hunters around 2010. Crowdfunding, business and state contributions have meant that around 9% of the site has been uncovered thus far. /8

Over time, the victims of Sandbyborg will reveal more of their secrets - their lifestyle explored, their faces reconstructed. Digs occur most summers it seems, and you can follow progress at @Sandbyborg. /9

If you’d like to learn more about the Sandbyborg site, here’s a good news story outlining the massacre and the dig. /10 

For much more on the site, including video, you can visit the dig’s website here. /11 

We might not be able to live forever, but in some ways, we can live on through what we leave in the soil. I hope that is some comfort to the dead of Sandbyborg. /FIN 

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


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