The first findings at the river valley of Illerup Ådal, were revealed in 1950, during some drainage works. The area was excavated from 1950 till 1956 and again in 1975-1985. During the excavations more than 15,000 items, mainly Iron Age weapons and personal equipment from 200-500 AD were found. It is generally agreed, that the findings are enemy equipment captured after victories, and then thrown into the lake, as a votive offering to the gods. Illerup Ådal is one of twenty-five sites in Denmark and Southern Sweden, where sacrificed weapons has been found.
To ensure preservation of the area still holding many findings, the location has been granted a protected area status in 1996.
In 2008 and 2009, a large scale archaeological excavation carried out as project work by students of Aarhus University, unearthed a lot of skeletal remains from hundreds of people from the Nordic Iron Age, at a different location in the valley known as Alken Enge (English: The Meadows of Alken). The area covers 40 ha and although the events behind the macabre scene is unclear at the moment, many of the dead are believed to be warriors, maybe sacrificed prisoners of the wars at the time.
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