|dcterms.abstract||Viking warriors from Scandinavia began to attack the coasts of western Europe towards the end of the eighth century. Christian writers registered their shock and horror at these raids by pagans upon monasteries, churches and royal sites. The raiders were mobile, using highly manoeuvrable light-weight sailing ships, which could also be rowed. They caught te armies of the Christian kingdoms unprepared, lacking the organisation to deal with them effectively. But there was much more to the Vikings than mere raiding for portable wealth, which in any case had been a regular activity in European societies for sometime.
It was Norwegian Vikings who first travelled to Scotland and into the Irish Sea, exploring and raiding. It was an easy journey from the west coast of Norway to the Northern Isles of Scotland and thence through the Western Isles to Ireland, Wales and Aquitaine. Within a generation or two Norwegians were settling in the Scottish islands, where their characteristic place-names survive on modern maps, showing the centres from which they worked the land. Their pagan burials, accompanied by grave goods have been recognised in the same area. Some Viking leaders became rulers in the British Isles, for example the earls of Orkney and the kings of Man. In Ireland Vikings founded commercial settlements, which became major Irish towns, such as Dublin. Archaeological evidence suggests that goods from all over the known world were brought into these centres. Vikings were not just raiders; they were political leaders, merchants, farmers, craftspeople, fishermen and poets. We will glimpse them on this course by using all sorts of evidence, documentary and archaeological, including sculptures, buildings, small finds, place-names and inscriptions. Your view of the Vikings may be changed forever by taking this course!
By examining carefully the written and archaeological evidence, this course will attempt to view the Viking Age dispassionately. By studying the archaeology of pre-Viking Denmark we shall be able to see what caused Danes to set sail for Europe. Ships of course are an important factor. Ship-building, ship-handling and navigation were skills learned prior to these voyages. We will assess the impact of the Vikings in Scotland and Ireland. What changes were stimulated by their arrival and settlement? Examination of archaeological finds such as stone sculptures, weapons, jewellery, coins, and pottery as well as urban and rural settlements and buildings will help us to understand the period.||en_GB