2018 HAL Voyage of the Vikings
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
The people we call Vikings came from the area we call Scandinavia. They were quite similar in culture, but geographically distinct. The Danes came from the Jutland peninsula and they tended to maraud in Europe and England and along the Mediterranean; the Swedes (also known as Rus) were on the North and East, they sailed the Baltic and traveled to Russia to plunder and loot; and the Norse were from the North and West so they tended to raid the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and settle in the North Atlantic Islands. No one knows for sure why the Vikings traveled to the ends of the earth. They sailed their longboats to the Arctic, through the Baltic, across the Mediterranean to Constantinople. They created settlements in Ireland, Scotland and England. They colonized Iceland, Greenland, and even the New World where they established Vinland in Newfoundland. But not a single one of them kept a journal or wrote a diary. There are no letters, no poems, no stories. These are a people whose history begins as pirates and raiders but in less than three centuries they faded from history as they not only assimilated, but augmented the economy, politics, and religions of every country they came in contact with.
As we visit Dublin, we learn that the Vikings actually created Ireland’s first true town. Dublin originated as a “longphort”, a fortified enclosure to protect the ships and function as a staging area for raids. By 840AD, Dublin had become a permanent settlement and was probably a slave-trading center also.
The Vikings had been raiding the coast of Ireland since 795 and had looted the Monastic City in Glendalough twice. Today, Glendalough and County Wicklow are the settings for the Canadian/Irish TV series, “Vikings”, now in its 5th season. The series is based on Neil Oliver’s book, Vikings (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 2012). Neil Oliver is an archaeologist, historian, writer and award-winning broadcaster.
These are the photos from our trip to Glendalough:
The next post will show you Dublin proper.
And then we’re off to Greenock, Scotland!