Riddle of the viking burial stone
An ancient viking burial stone kept in a south Wirral church has become the centre of an archaeological dispute. The stone at the Church of St Mary and St Helen, in Neston town centre, which has been broken over time prior to its discovery, clearly depicts a man and a woman with an angel flying overhead. Archaeologist and TV presenter Mark Olly said the stone is “as unique as the death mask of Tutankhamun”, but has disputed the interpretation placed on it by other Viking experts. The stone depicts a warrior and a woman who – say orthodox archaeological interpretations – are a couple, with the stone possibly marking their joint burial site. But Mr Olly insists the woman depicted on the ornately carved stone is actually a Valkyrie, which would make this already unique artefact even more intriguing. The stone itself has had a chequered history, having been used as a lintel in the church in the 1980s, and eventually recovered and put on display. The top portion of the stone has been broken off at some time, taking with it key parts of the carving. Mr Olly said: “This stone shows the story of a Viking's life, you see him with a spear, deer hunting, and it could also be the oldest depiction of jousting. “I think it shows a warrior and he is dying. When you look at the other carved characters, they are all men.” This view is disputed by other scholars who see this particular part of the imagery on the stone as a wife beckoning her husband. Wirral Viking specialist Professor Stephen Harding prefers the view that the stone is already fascinating for a number of reasons.
He emphasises that he and the other members of the research team working on the cross, Dr Martin Cooper of National Museums Liverpool, Dr Roger White, Academic Director of the Ironbridge Institute in Shropshire and Dr Peter Rossiter believe the Viking couple are the deceased man and wife whom the cross is commemorating. In a bid to come to a conclusion over the real meaning of the stone, it has been scanned by experts from NML and an animation shows it being attached to what could be the missing portion.
And here's an alternate story with some overlap...
A Viking heritage walk in Neston commemorates the patron saint of Norway
Jul 23 2008 by Lorna Hughes, Birkenhead News
A VIKING heritage walk commemorating the patron saint of Norway starts from Neston on Saturday.
The 13-mile walk begins at St Mary’s and St Helen’s Church in Neston at 9am and finishes at St Olave’s in Chester. The walk is held each year to commemorate St Olav Haraldsson, patron saint of Norway and St Olav’s Day.
Neston’s Viking heritage was in the spotlight again at the weekend with television programme Lost Treasures focusing on an ancient Viking stone in the Church of St Mary and St Helen.
The stone, which has been broken over time into two major fragments, depicts a man and a woman with an angel flying overhead. Viewers saw controversial archaeologist and presenter Mark Olly arguing that she is a valkyrie, a kind of Viking angel, and not a wife beckoning her husband – as is the accepted opinion among academics.
But Wirral Viking expert, Professor Stephen Harding and the other members of the research team working on the cross, Dr Martin Cooper of National Museums Liverpool, Dr Roger White, academic director of the Ironbridge Institute in Shropshire and Dr Peter Rossiter believe the Viking couple are the deceased man and wife whom the cross is commemorating.
All are welcome to join Saturday’s walk and walkers are advised to wear appropriate footwear and bring food and drink to last the distance.
Source: Wirral news