The Viking Age: England and Francia

Gore, D. (Derek)


Scandinavians, popularly known as Vikings, began to explore and settle in Europe from the ninth century. Contemporary Christian writers voiced their dismay at what they saw as the sudden eruption of these savage pagans into their area. Commentators since, down to the 20th century have largely echoed these writers' views, sometimes portraying the Scandinavians as mindless thugs led by psychopaths. In a period when savagery in warfare was commonplace, the Vikings have been placed by some in a special category of their own. 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 on France and England. 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.

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University of Exeter

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