An Oxford College has commemorated the mass killing of Danish people whose skeletons were discovered on its grounds.

St John's College hosted an interdisciplinary programme of talks and events on November 12 and 13 where a range of speakers discussed themes of identity, community, conflict and otherness.

The St Brice's Day massacre was ordered by King Æthelred the Unready on November 13 1002 in response to a perceived threat on the king's life.

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Danish people broke into St Frideswide's Church - on the site of what is now Christ Church Cathedral - looking for sanctuary but it was subsequently burned down by non-Danes.

President of St John's College, Professor Dame Sue Black, said: "Beneath the grounds of the College, when preparing the ground for the building of Kendrew Quadrangle in 2008, we were shocked to uncover the remains of so many people.

thisisoxfordshire: Professor Dame Sue Black Professor Dame Sue Black (Image: Oxford University)A student at St John’s College, Tom Shaw, who graduated in 2023 with a degree in Ancient and Modern History, was found through DNA testing to be distantly related to one of the skeletons that was discovered on college grounds.

Mr Shaw said: "It is a surprising and warming coincidence that I have matched with the St Brice's Day remains and one that has made me wonder what impact DNA testing could have on people's personal relationship with the past.

"I found it hard to believe at first but there has always been speculation about my Dad's side of the family having a Scandinavian connection.

"The connection was cemented after I saw the similarities between the facial reconstruction and that of my relatives, many of whom bear an amazing similarity to the reconstruction.

"When I looked at other genetic matches with archaeological finds, it seemed to match up with research done on both sides of my family - a DNA match to a set of skeletons found in County Roscommon for example, as my mother had always been told that some of her family had come over from County Roscommon in the famine."

thisisoxfordshire: Danes

"I would like to thank St John's College for helping me discover more about my own past."

There were talks from Oxford professors and research fellows who discussed topics ranging from 'Viking Oxford' to 'Depicting the Dead'.

The college also received the reconstructed skull of one of the skeletons found in the mass grave in the St John's art collection.

Professor Dame Sue Black told the story of one of the skeletons.

Meanwhile, Professor Caroline Wilkinson and the FaceLab at Liverpool John Moores University were invited to recreate the individual’s face to showcase what they might have looked like.