The Age of the Vikings After the anglo-saxons had established their kingdoms this is another interesting part of English history, a period in which England went from a people divided, to a people united under one King, a period in which the English would become the worlds first known Nation State. And the Norsemen were, […]
The Vikings in England
The Vikings were great travelers known for trading, raiding, and settling in other lands.
Originally from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in Northern Europe, they spread through Europe and the North Atlantic in the period of vigorous Scandinavian expansion (AD 800-1050).
The Viking raids on England started in the late 8th century. These were a series of attacks by the Vikings, a group of Scandinavian raiders, on the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The raids began around 789 and continued until the middle of the 11th century.
The attack on Lindisfarne monastery in 793 was a particularly dramatic and significant event, heralding the onset of frequent raids on coastal communities. This event marked the beginning of the Viking age, an era in which the Scandinavians began to raid the coasts of Europe for treasure and slaves.
Small and sporadic raids gradually turned to large-scale assaults, as raiding groups came together.
Initially, there was little English resistance because 'England' was a region of different independent kingdoms - often at war with each other - and the lack of a unified political and military structure meant that Viking raiders could roam the countryside with some impunity.
Eventually, King Alfred of Wessex was able to confront the Viking 'Great Army' at Edington, in 878, when his victory enabled him to establish terms for peace, though this did not put a complete stop to Viking activity which continued on and off for several more generations. Alfred had to concede the northern and eastern counties of England to the Vikings, where their disbanded armies settled, created new settlements, and merged with the local populations.
Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford, and Leicester became important Viking towns within The Danelaw, while York became the capital of the Viking Kingdom of York which extended more or less over what we call Yorkshire.
These areas were gradually reconquered and brought back under English control by Alfred's successors, but not before the Scandinavian influence had been locally imprinted to an extent that is still detectable today in language and culture.
After the Battle of Clontarf (1014) many of the Hiberno-Norse Vikings migrated to England and settled in the north-west, from the Wirral to the Lake District. In northern England, as a crude generalization, the Pennine watershed represents the interface of the 'Norwegian' and 'Danish' Viking regions.
The last major Viking battle took place at Stamford Bridge near York in 1066, but the threat of further Scandinavian invasion, with ambitions to conquer and rule, did not diminish until well after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and, in fact, under Canute/Cnut (c.994-1035) the realm had a Danish monarch and was part of an Anglo-Scandinavian empire.
England’s line of Viking kings spans three generations and was founded in 1013 by Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, the son of Harald Bluetooth, who after years of conflict, wrested the throne of England from the ineffectual English Saxon king, Aethelred II the Unready. Sweyn was followed by his son Canute, the Great. Canute converted […]
No description or story of the Viking people can be undertaken without a reasonable in-depth study of the longboat. So much of their culture and legend surrounds them, but what are they and how were they built? The first boats made were probably skin-covered frames dating back 3000 years. The next development was the clinker […]
The first invasions of Britain were well chronicled. The most publicised occurred on Lindisfarne island off the coast of Northumbria in 793 A.D. Lindisfarne was a monastery founded by St Aiden in 630 which was ransacked and their ecclesiastical finery of gold, jewellery and relics taken. Many monks were killed and others kidnapped. The alters […]
A bribe or tribute paid by the English to maintain peace. First paid in the reign of Aethelred II and was raised by taxation. Danegeld was paid on a number of occasions – usually in silver. The payment in 991 consisted of 20000 pounds of silver. When Cnut became king of England the tax continued. […]
An alphabet of runes was common to all Germanic peoples of the north long before the Viking Age began. It is called the futhark, after the first six signs in the alphabet. Its origins are obscure but the Vikings themselves believed that the god Odin had invented it (or rather, stolen it). Many thousands of […]
The pagan Scandinavians acknowledged a pantheon of gods and spirits which could be called on in different situations. Sometimes Viking chiefs could act as intermediaries with the gods. The stories of the creation and end of the world according to Norse mythology and the exploits of Viking gods such as Odin, Thor, Frey and Freyia […]
Whether as colonisers, traders or warriors, Scandinavians reached almost every part of the known world and discovered new lands. From the Nordic kingdoms, their ships penetrated the west European coast, sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea and, from there, journeyed to Italy, Spain, Morocco and the Holy Land. From the Baltic […]
The Viking homelands consisted of the three present-day Scandinavian kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, together with part of Finland. The original border of the Danish Viking kingdom was at the base of the Jutland peninsula which today lies in north Germany. This represents a huge combined landmass extending from well inside the Arctic Circle […]
From 700-1100 AD, the Vikings ruled supreme. A strong and proud race of Nordic seafarers who traveled the Norwegian and Baltic seas in long boats, from land to land, battle to battle. Viking warriors were often seen wielding a sword and shield or a mighty ax in battle. In the old Norse language, Viking meant […]