Scottish archaeologists have proposed a theory that outlines the possibility that an excavated skeleton is that of Viking King Olaf Guthfrithsson. The skeleton was unearthed in Auldhame in East Lothian during a 2005 dig conducted by the AOC Archaeology Group.
Archaeologists point to the artifacts uncovered along with the skeleton as indications that the bones may be those of the 10th century Viking king. One artifact in particular, a belt buckle like those popular in Viking controlled Ireland, is seen as an indication that the burial was for a person of high rank who probably spent time in the royal household of the Uí Ímar dynasty. This particular dynasty was dominant on both sides of the Irish sea during the early decades of the 10th century.
Definitive identification of the remains as belonging to Guthfrithsson may be impossible, as there are no known living descendants with which to compare DNA evidence. Archaeologists are still confident that location of the remains, the date of the burial, and the artifacts that were buried with the body all add up to a conclusion that “this death was connected with Olaf’s attack on the locale.”
Olaf Guthfrithsson was a Viking king during the Uí Ímar dynasty known to have led a sack of both Auldhame and Tyninghame, two cities that were part of a church complex in East Lothian. Guthfrithsson had once sat as the King of York before being forced out by the Saxon King Æthelstan in 927. He became king of Dublin and Northumbria in 934 and subsequently participated in a Viking raid that attempted to retake York from Æthelstan, a campaign that culminated in the Battle of of Brunaburh in 934. The Annals of Ulster had this to say in describing the English victory:
A great, lamentable and horrible battle was cruelly fought between the Saxons and the Northmen, in which several thousands of Northmen, who are uncounted, fell, but their king Amlaib [Olaf], escaped with a few followers. A large number of Saxons fell on the other side, but Æthelstan, king of the Saxons, enjoyed a great victory.