Tag Archives: Danelaw

Viking Slavers in the West

 

The Viking Age of Scandinavian history began with the Lindisfarne raid on June 8, 793 and ended with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes the as ‘the ravages of heathen men miserably destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne, with plunder and with slaughter.’ While they carried away plunder, the less able monks were killed and the others were enslaved. Two years later, Vikings raided the monastery on Iona, and other monasteries along the coasts and rivers of northern Europe fell to the Vikings. 

 Vikings used the Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea for sea routes to raid and eventually settled in the south. They established the Danelaw, which included Scandinavian York, the administrative centre of the remains of the Kingdom of Northumbria, parts of Mercia, and East Anglia. In Ireland, from the ninth to the twelfth century, Dublin became a major slave trading center. In 870A.D. Vikings besieged and captured Alt Clut in southern Scotland and sold the inhabitants in the Dublin slave markets. The Normans who eventually conquered England and the Viking overlords were descended from Danish and Norwegian Vikings who had invaded northern France and carved out a Duchy.

Not all Viking raids were successful. In 980 AD, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle records that Southampton “was ravaged by a force in ships, the town-dwellers, for the most part, were killed or enslaved.” The fate of captured Vikings was described earlier at an attack on Jarrow (794 AD): “. . . some of the ships were broken up in bad weather and many drowned. Some came alive to shore and were quickly killed at the river’s mouth.’

Tomorrow, The Vikings in Eastern Europe. Rita Bay

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Viking York

Viking York

 

 York (a city in northeast England) was founded in 71 AD as a Roman fortress town called Eboracum.  It served as a base of operations to defend the Roman frontier, extend the Roman empire north into what is now Scotland and support the legions assigned to Hadrian’s Wall.  When the Romans departed from York and all of Britain 350 years later, the Anglo-Saxons occupied York for another 350 years until the Vikings arrived.  Eoforwic (York’s Anglo-Saxon name) fell to Scandinavian invaders in AD 866.      

 The Vikings kept what they could use, including the ancient Roman walls which they could still use for defense.  Viking Jorvik became the commercial and trading center of the Norse kingdom of York which was under the Danelaw (the body of laws that governed the area).  The city was well-planned with a new bridge over the River Ouse and a new main street-Micklegate.  The windowless one-story post and wattle houses were a standardized size (about 14’ x 44’) with dirt floors and small yards set off by fences. York returned to full English control when the last Scandinavian king, Eric Bloodaxe, was expelled from Jorvik in AD 954.  When the Normans conquered England, York was feared as a center for fomenting rebellion.

Coppergate Excavation

     As with Vindolanda, the York dampness preserved some of the homes and contents—fabric, leather  and wood items—have been discovered.  As the excavations were completed, the city created elaborate expositions that are a very popular tourist attraction.

Tomorrow, Early Churches in Britain  Rita Bay

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