AN ANCIENT Viking burial stone kept in a borough 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.
He 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.”
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.
The scanning process also means the rock could be recreated – in stone or some other substance – and used as a tourist attraction for Neston.