The south English county of Dorset is noted for being home to Thomas Hardy, the famed writer who used bucolic descriptions of the region in many of his novels, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles and The Return of the Native.

It’s also the site of a mass burial ground for dozens of Viking mercenaries, decapitated en masse and placed in shallow graves a millennia ago.

The burial site features the bodies of 54 men who were decapitated and their heads piled to one side. It was discovered in 2009.

Carbon dating and isotope tests revealed the bodies were Scandinavian and dated from the 11th century, according to the BBC.

This coincides with the period in which Vikings were constantly attacking Anglo-Saxons on the English south coast. It is believed the men were captured during an attempted raid into the area.

The skeletons are all of males, with almost all aged from their late teens to around 25 years old, with a handful of older individuals.

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