Leading article: Norse play

The story of the Vikings on these islands is a familiar one: rape; pillage; desecration; extortion; and general mistreatment of the poor Saxons. But new archaeological evidence, in the form of a mass Viking grave uncovered near Weymouth, suggests that the bad behaviour was not entirely one way.

The 11th century Saxon ruler, Ethelred the Unready, was not, it seems, as unready as we have all been led to believe. It is believed that the king ordered all the Viking soldiers in the south-west of England to be rounded up and executed.

And the revelation that one of the slain Vikings might have come from Iceland also has a contemporary resonance. Moral leverage perhaps for Reykjavik in its present financial negotiations with our Government? But then maybe Britain will bring up the small matter of the Vikings' unhelpful intervention at Stamford Bridge in 1066. Probably safer, all things considered, to leave the wrongs of that particular era buried.

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