Viking Attack by zhangyun


									The Viking age in Ireland: 795 – 11th century

         From raiding to settlement
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Key questions                                       This part
Who were the Irish Vikings?
The first Viking attack
The first phase – raiding, 795 – c. 830
Ireland – an easy target 1? - rich monasteries
Ireland – an easy target 2? - political divisions
Pagans versus Christians
The second phase – settlement                       Part two
Viking Dublin
The first Dublin
The second Dublin
Linking British & Irish history
The end of Viking power in Ireland ?                Part three
Notes, etc.
Timeline                                            This part
Historical novels                                   This part

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                   Key questions

  Were the Vikings merely violent plunderers?
           (according to Irish written sources)


Did the Vikings bring positive benefits to Ireland?
          (according to archaeological evidence)

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Who were the Irish Vikings
 ‘Ostmen’ (‘men from the east’ – Old Norse)
 ‘Lochlannaigh (‘people from the land of the Loughs’ – Irish)
 Some people say they came to Ireland directly from Norway
 Others think that they came to Ireland from Norwegian settlements in Scotland
Two phases
 Raiding, 795-830s
 Settlement, 840 onwards

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The first Viking attack – monastery on Rathlin Island, 795

                                                           University brooch

                                Ireland 'became filled with immense
                                floods, and countless sea-vomiting of
                                ships, and boats, and fleets'.

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The first phase – raiding, 795 – c. 830

At first the Vikings raided Irish
monasteries and returned to                   The Vikings inspired fear.
Scandinavia with their booty.
                                                      One monk wrote:
The Vikings attacked the
monasteries because they were rich       Since tonight the wind is high,
in land, stock and provisions.             The sea’s white mane a fury,
                                      I need not fear the hordes of Hell
They also took valuable objects but         Coursing the Irish Channel.
this was not their primary concern.

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Ireland – an easy target 1?                        Rich monasteries
                                     When they were first set up around
                                     500 AD, Irish monasteries were not
                                     worth attacking.
                                     They were small communities living a
                                     religious life and perhaps also
                                     providing a ministry to their
                                     Later many grew in size, forming
                                     small monastic towns, with
                                     agricultural dependants, craftsmen,
                                     and traders, forming.
                                     They also became very rich and
                                     produced beautiful and valuable


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Artist’s impression of
an early Irish monastery

                      Artist’s impression of
         an Irish monastery in Viking times
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Leading Irish monasteries                    aerial views

Clonmacnoise, Co. Limerick

                  Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
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Artist’s impression of Glendalough

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The round tower
Round towers in monasteries were first
and foremost bell houses.
 They were five stories high.
 Each storey had a wooden floor,
 reached by a ladder
 The top storey had four to six windows,
 from which a small hand-bell would have
 been rung.
Round towers were also used for defence
against attack – a refuge for people and
 Their chimney-like form meant they were
 not ideal for such defence – fire could easily
 In 1097, for example, the tower of
 Monasterboice was burned ‘with its books
 and many treasures’.
                                                  Templeoran monastic site, Co. Westmeath

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Ardagh chalice                          O’Donnell Battle Book

                 Moylough Belt Shrine

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Book of Kells

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Ireland – an easy target 2?                 Political divisions
When the Vikings came to Ireland, the
country was not united.
The were many kings who controlled
different parts of the country and tried
to take control of other parts.
Cattle raiding and warring were part of
daily life. In fact, the Irish chieftains
were just as likely to attack as defend
the monasteries.
In the first quarter century of Viking
attacks there were twenty-six
plunderings by Vikings but eighty-seven
raids by the Irish themselves.
Over a century one monastery,
Clonmacnoise, suffered six Viking
attacks. However, the local Irish
attacked it eleven times!

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Pagans versus Christians
The Vikings were pagans.                Odin
The Irish were Christians.
Christians worshipped one God.
The Vikings believed in several
The most powerful was Odin.
Others included Thor, the God of
Thunder, and Freya, goddess of
Christians had a symbolic
sacrifice in the mass.
Vikings made sacrifices of
animals and people. They
believed that this kept their gods

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Turgeis   (pronounced Tur-gice)
One of the Viking leaders, called Turgeis,
hated Christianity. He wanted to make
Ireland pagan again.

He attacked the north of Ireland in 832
with a large fleet. His ships went up the
River Bann to Lough Neagh.

From there they made their way to
Armagh – the headquarters, so to speak
of the Christian Church in Ireland.

In 1840 Turgeis and his followers
attacked the great monastery of Armagh
three times in one month. He chased the
abbot and the monks out of the

He founded the (first) town of Dublin
and crowned himself king.

                            Armagh Cathedral today
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The Irish kings come to the rescue
Turgeis’s plans were, however,
foiled by the one of the most
powerful Irish kings.

In 845, Turgeis was taken
prisoner and drowned by King
Malachy in Lough Owel in Co.
Westmeath as a punishment for
all the trouble he caused.
                                  One story says that Malachy challenged Turgeis to
Some people think that Turgeis    single combat on the shores of Lough Owel. Malachy
was not as evil as he has been    won. He not only drowned Turgeis in the waters of
painted.                          the lake but also took his collar of gold.
                                  Another version says Turgeis developed a passion for
They think that Irish writers     Malachy’s daughter. One day Malachy said he would
                                  send fifteen girls with his daughter and asked Turgeis
exaggerated his misdeeds to       to choose one these and spare his daugther. Instead,
highlight Malachi’s achievement   he sent fifteen young men disguised as girls. They
in ridding Ireland of numerous    were all soldiers and captured Turgeis. Malachy kept
                                  the Viking for a few days and made him suffer. Then
such invaders.                    he threw him, tied in chains, into Lough Owel.

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The Vikings in Ireland adapted from
The Oxford Companion to Irish History edited by S.J. Connolly, OUP, 1998, 0-19866-240-8, 579-81

Vikings, Scandinavian adventurers, subsequently known as Ostmen (Old Norse ‘men of the east’) or Lochlannaigh (Irish ‘people from the
      land of loughs’). They first appear in Irish sources as plunderers and this remains their dominant image in popular memory. In
      reality their involvement with Ireland lasted almost 400 years, during which time the Scandinavians were transformed into farmers,
      traders, colonists, and urban developers.

The first Viking raid on Ireland occurred in 795 when Reachrainn, probably Rathlin island (but Lambay island has also been suggested),
      was attacked. During the next 25 years there was, on average, one Viking attack per year. The raids were hit-and-run affairs.
      Monasteries were the prime target, not only because they possessed treasuries of precious objects but also because they were
      densely populated centres with substantial stores of provisions and potential slaves. Archaeologically this phase of activity has left
      no trace in Ireland, but about 6o metalwork objects of Irish manufacture have been discovered in graves of 9th-century date in
      western Norway. These artefacts are normally interpreted as the result of plundering raids, but it should be noted that most of the
      objects are domestic in function and may have been the result of trade or exchange.

The pattern of hit-and-run raids ceased during the 830s with the arrival of large Viking fleets on the rivers Liffey Boyne, Shannon, and
     Erne. The forces transported by these fleets were substantial and, commonly they terrorized an area for some weeks or months
     before returning to Scandinavia for winter. The success of these campaigns dearly gave rise to the next development, the
     foundation of longphorts (a defended enclosure designed originally to protect ships) at Dublin and Annagassan, Co. Louth, in 841.
     These were the first permanent Viking settlements in Ireland and were originally envisaged as defended bases in which the
     Scandinavian forces could overwinter and plan the renewal of campaigning in the spring. In the course of the 9th century Dublin
     developed into an important slaving centre and some of Dublin’s rulers, notably Olaf the White (d. 871) and Ivar the Boneless (d.
     873), campaigned extensively in Scotland and Northumbria, from where they brought valuables and slaves to the Dublin markets.
     While the longphorts provided the Vikings with a permanent base, they also gave the Irish kings a fixed objective to attack. In 848
     the longphort at Cork was captured, while the assault on Dublin in 902 was so successful that the Vikings abandoned the
     settlement and moved to northern Britain and the Isle of Man. Archaeologically little is known about the nature of these
     longphorts. The cemetery of the 9th-century Dublin Vikings has been uncovered and shows, not surprisingly, that warriors formed
     a prominent element of the population. There are some hints of rural settlement in the immediate vicinity of Dublin at this time
     and there are slight indications of rural colonization in underpopulated areas such as western Connemara.

                                                                                                                         Continued on next page …

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In 914 a great Scandinavian fleet, originating in northern France, landed at Waterford, initiating a new phase of plundering activity.
     Munster was devastated in 915 and Dublin was re-established two years later. The Viking position was consolidated in 919 when
     they defeated the king of Tara, Niall Glúndub in battle. Other fleets also descended on Ireland. Limerick was founded in 922 by the
     leader of one such fleet and Wexford (c.92 1) by another. The kings of Dublin played an important role in Irish political life for
     much of the 10th century, although most of their attention was expended on controlling Northumbria and in obtaining authority
     over the other Viking centres in Ireland. Dublin and York were closely connected and were ruled by members of the same family
     until 952 when Olaf Cuarán (d. 981) was forced out of York and returned to Dublin. After their defeat at the battle of Tara (980)
     the role of the Scandinavians diminished and their territories were gradually integrated into the Irish political framework.

The significance of the battle of Clontarf (1014) has been much overestimated largely due to the literary skills of the compiler of the
     Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh, a 12th-century work eulogizing the Uí Briain. In more recent centuries the battle acquired mythic
     status in nationalist historiography as a synonym for the defeat and expulsion of invaders. In fact Limerick had been captured by
     the Dál Cais in 967 and it was to be ruled by their descendants until 1197. Dublin maintained a semblance of independence until
     1052 when the king of Leinster, Diarmait mac Máel na mBó, forced the Dubliners to accept his son Murchad as their ruler.
     Paradoxically, however, as Dublin’s political power declined its economic importance increased and from 1049 onwards any king
     with pretensions to the high kingship of Ireland had to control Dublin.

It has been argued that the Vikings had a negative impact on Irish society, promoting violence, accelerating church abuses, and
      terminating the ‘golden age’ of Irish art. Modern historiography, however, has largely discredited these views and the port towns
      of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, and Limerick are generally regarded as the Scandinavians’ most enduring legacy.
      Archaeological excavations have yielded good evidence of the urban layout and building fabric of these 10th-12th-century towns
      but less is known about rural settlement in their vicinity. Each port had a rural hinterland (that of Dublin is referred to as
      Dyflinarskíri), and the archaeological evidence suggests that they were settled by a mixed community that was heavily
      Hibernicized. Scandinavian settlement in Ireland is unusual in its urban bias and motives more complex than the provision of pirate
      bases may have influenced the foundation of these towns. They were all well placed, for instance, to take advantage of trade with
      the interior. The colonization of large tracts of territory does not seem to have been a primary objective of the Scandinavians in
      Ireland and it cannot be without significance that they put so much of their resources into the development of towns. An
      influencing factor in this regard may have been the view that Britain, rather than Ireland, was the principal area in which to
      achieve conquest and colonization.

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Click here for a more detailed timeline   Click here to return to original page   END   MENU   HOME
Timeline of the Viking Age in Ireland
700   Around this time there was a gradual transition from tribalism to dynastic politics, resulting in 500 years of inter-kingdom battles, too numerous
      to mention, there were also inter-monastery battles.
709 Plague, believed to have been polio, also dysentery.
772 Twelve years of famine and plague, Bloody flux, smallpox, rabies and cattle murrain.
773 Drought and famine.
777 Bad summer - wind and rain.
795 First Viking raids on Ireland.
799 Inter-kingdom battles, too numerous to mention, took place during this century.
807 Large Viking raid on western coast.
837 Vikings carry out intensive raids on Ireland, and set up bases.
841 Viking establish base in Dublin.
848 Norse occupy Cork.
876 Relative respite from Viking raids for next forty years.
892 Great wind, forests destroyed and wooden churches and houses blown away.
899 More inter-kingdom battles, too numerous to mention, took place during this century.
900 English coins begin to circulate in Ireland.
902 Dublin evacuated by the Norse.
914 Large Viking fleet arrives in Waterford.
917 Vikings establish the proper town of Dublin
920 to 950 Dublin Kings strike coins at York in England.
922 Foundation of the Norse town of Limerick.
951 Outbreak of Small pox and bloody flux among the Norse in Dublin.
965 Famine.
978 Battle of Belach Lechta - in Ballyhoura mountains in north Cork. Brian Boruma mac Cennetig (Brian Boru) defeats and kills Mael Muad mac Brain
      and becomes king of Munster.
980 Battle of Tara – defeat of Olaf Curran, King of Dublin, by Malachi of the O’Neill tribe.
999 Battle of Glenn Mama near Dublin, Mael Morda, king of Leinster, and Sitric Silkbeard king of Dublin defeated by Brian Boru. Other inter-kingdom
      battles, too numerous to mention, took place during this century.
1000 Brian Boru captures Dublin.
1002 Reign of Brian Boru as High King commences twelve years of reasonable peace apart from odd out breaks of inter dynasty fights in Ulster.
1014 Mael Morda, king of Leinster, invites Jarl Sigurd of Orkney to help him fight Brian Boru. In the battle of Clontarf on Good Friday Apr. 23. They
      are defeated and both killed. Brian Boru is killed after the battle. Inter-kingdom feuds and battles recommence.
1047 Famine in Ulster causing a lot of people to settle in Leinster.
1062 Colic in Leinster, spreads to rest of country.
1066 Battle of Hastings, Norman's conquer England.

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Irish kingdoms
St. Patrick found the population of Ireland divided into as many as 150 tuatha, a word most nearly
translated ‘tribes’ or ‘clans’. These were kin groups with a recognized leader and having collective claims to
the wealth of, and authority over, specified territories.

Pre-Viking Ireland (mid-8th century) was divided into perhaps 100 small kingdoms, of varying size and
importance, each ruled by a chief or king. There were three grades of kingship: king of one tuath; king of
three or four tuatha; and the third rank, overking or high king. Royal succession was determined during the
lifetime of a reigning king, from amongst eligible members of kindred.

The almost constant warfare between these groupings included the burning of churches, while the wars
and battles between monasteries were just as bloody.

On once occasion, Clonmacnoise engaged Durrow in a major pitched battle, slaying two hundred of the
latter's fighting men. The death toll was exceeded in 817 in the battle between the monastery of Taghmon,
assisted by Cathal mac Dunlainge, king of Ui Chennselaig, and the monastery of Ferns, in which four
hundred were killed.

There was a long-term tendency for these political divisions to grow larger and by 1100 the number of
tribal units in Ireland was about 30. Some Irish leaders claimed the title of ‘High King’, but their power was
always limited and temporary.

The process of unification was carried on much faster on the Continent and in Anglo-Saxon England. The
whole of the southern part of Britain had been unified, first under the Anglo-Saxons, and after 1066, under
the Normans. No such unification had occurred within Ireland despite various aborted tendencies in that

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Viking gods - Odin
Odin was the mighty god to the Norsemen. He was called All-Father.

He is pictured as a middle-aged man with long curly hair and a beard.

His weapon, called Gungnir, was a spear made by dwarfs. He was often accompanied by two ravens
named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory).

In his thirst for knowledge, Odin sacrificed one of his eyes so he could drink from the roots of the World
Tree, Yggdrasil.

To discover the secret of the runes (magic spells), Odin hanged himself from the World Tree for nine days.

His special attendants were female warriors, called the Valkyrie. The Valkyries took the bodies of the
warriors killed in battle to Valhalla, which was located in the city of Heaven.

Around the eighth and ninth centuries, Odin took over the role of the Sky god
from Tyr.

Together with his brothers Vili and Ve, Odin created the world from the body of
the giant, Ymir.

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Viking gods - Thor
In Norse mythology, Thor was the god of thunder.

He produces thunder with his hammer, called Mjolnir, which means ‘The Destroyer’.

This hammer was made by dwarfs, and would magically return to Thor's hand whenever he needed it.

Thor is depicted as a tall, muscular man with red hair and a beard.

His magic belt could double his incredible strength, while his iron gloves protected his hands.

His greatest enemy was the World Serpent, which lived in the ocean surrounding Midgard, the Earth.

There are only a few stories remaining about this mighty champion of the gods. One tells of a quest to
destroy the dreaded World Serpent. Disguised as a young fisherman, Thor joins the giant Hymir in his boat.
Using the head of an ox, Thor got the beast on his line. He attempted to kill the serpent with one giant
swing with his sword. However, a scared Hymir cut the line, sending the serpent back into the ocean, just
before Thor could finish the job.

Thor was also challenged to a duel by the giant Hrungnir, who had a stone head and heart. Thor's
companion, Thjalfi, tricked the giant into standing on his shield. This allowed Thor to swoop down from
above and shatter his head.

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Viking gods - Freya
In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the
She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of
She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies).
Freya is one of the foremost goddesses of the Vanir.
She is the daughter of the god Njord, and the sister of Freyr.
Later she married the mysterious god Od (probably another form of Odin), who disappeared. When she
mourned for her lost husband, her tears changed into gold.
Her attributes are the precious necklace of the Brisings, which she obtained by sleeping with four dwarfs, a
cloak (or skin) of bird feathers, which allows its wearer to change into a falcon, and a chariot pulled by two
She owns Hildesvini (‘battle boar’) which is actually her human lover Ottar in disguise. Her chambermaid is
Freya lives in the beautiful palace Folkvang (‘field of folk’), a place where love songs are always played, and
her hall is Sessrumnir.
She divides the slain warriors with Odin: one half goes to her palace, while the other half goes to Valhalla.
Women also go to her hall.

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Distant Voices                                           Baldur’s Bones
by Friel, Maeve, Poolbeg Press, 1-85371-410-0            by Arrigan, Mary Collins, 0-00711-154-1
Set in the north-west of Ireland, this is a powerful     ‘I think I am going to keep this Viking,’ said Finn,
and unusual evocation of the Viking era.                 wiping away the soil and lifting the skull. ‘Imagine, all
                                                         those centuries ago there was someone just like me
This voice, this Harald, was haunting Ellie’s dreams,    … a buck-toothed warrior.’
speaking to her in his strange accent, drawing her
into another life.                                       When Finn and Tara discover a skull on the site of an
                                                         ancient Viking burial ground, Finn is determined to
He spins stories of sea voyages, exile and death,        take it home.
while she sleeps.
                                                         However, this ghoulish find drags Finn and Tara into a
His appeal to Ellie, ‘Only you will know where to        nightmarish adventure – a race against time – one
find me’, leads her across the border from Derry         that become a matter of life or death.
into Donegal where she makes a startling discovery
on a lonely headland.

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