The riddle of the Viking chief Rollo’s rise remains unresolved. Norwegian researchers tested skeletal remains that were supposed to be from his descendants, but that have turned out to be far older than Rollo.
Viking chieftain Rollo was the founder of Normandy, and the ancestor of the British royal family.
For centuries it has been debated whether he was originally from Denmark or Norway, especially if he could be the exiled Rollo from Møre.
In March a Norwegian led delegation open a sarcophagus of two of Rollo’s descendants, the Dukes Richard I and Richard II, to test where DNA their stems from:
– These skeletons have nothing to do with Rollo. The skeletons in the sarcophagus are in fact much older, one from 250-300 years before our era and the other from around the year 700, that is, before the Viking era, says historian and project initiator Sturla Ellingvåg from Foundation explico to news agency NTB.
It was believed that the body of Rollo’s grandson and great-grandson, Duke Richard the fearless and son Duke Richard the good, would be buried in the floor of a monastery in the French Fécamp.
After seven years of pleading, the French authorities and the French church in January granted the Norwegian application to open the grave. In a sarcophagus in the floor researchers found a lower jaw with eight teeth.
The project participants were very surprised when the skeletons proved to be much older than the people they supposedly were to belong, although it is not entirely uncommon for the contents of graves to not match the name on them:
– We know that many cities in northern Europe moved on from cemeteries and churches after the Vikings started their raids, and many churches also had to be rebuilt.
But the fault lies centuries back in time, says Ellingvåg, which was especially surprised that the two men appear to have lived as long as BCE and before the Viking era.
Since the skeletal remains were so old and had been stored in lead containers it was not possible to retrieve DNA and thus find out where they might have come from:
– The oldest man is a good deal older than the city of Fécamp, and we can only speculate whether this may be a pre-Roman Celtic chief says Ellingvåg.
Rollo was the son of Ragnvald Jarl and was banished from Norway.
He should have settled in France. Norwegian-Icelandic history claims that he and Rollo was one and the same person, while Danish historians believe Rollo came from Denmark.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today