Skip to comments.The Viking Great Army: A tale of conflict and adaptation played out in northern England
Posted on 03/26/2018 5:15:42 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
The Viking Great Army's arrival in 865 was recounted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:.. According to the Chronicle, the Vikings spent years campaigning through the territory of the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms -- East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex... By 880, all the kingdoms had fallen to the Vikings except Wessex, with which they made peace...
Excavations conducted [at Repton, the capital of Mercia] between 1974 and 1993 by Martin Biddle and his late wife, Birthe Kjolbye-Biddle, had revealed a small, heavily defended enclosure covering just an acre or two... some experts took these findings to suggest that the Great Army was not actually so great after all, numbering at most in the hundreds...
Now, however, an archaeological project at another location, Torksey, in Lincolnshire, where the army camped from 872 to 873, has established that it was indeed very large... some 136 acres stretching over six present-day agricultural fields near the east bank of the River Trent north of the modern village of Torksey... The site is generally dry today... in the ninth century it was a natural island bordered by the River Trent on the west and marshland on the other three sides, which helps explain why the Vikings camped there.
By the time the Viking Great Army overwintered at Torksey, it had been in England for seven years and had already conquered both East Anglia and Northumbria... The next year, 873, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Vikings charged into the kingdom's capital, Repton, some 60 miles southwest along the Trent. There, they sacked a monastery, sent the king, Burghred, fleeing to Paris, and replaced him with a figurehead named Ceolwulf...
(Excerpt) Read more at archaeology.org ...
The Repton charnel burial, ©Martin Biddle [Repton and the Legacy of the Viking Great Army by Catrine Jarman, University of Bristol]
Glad you are back. I appreciate your work posting this and similar articles.
I have to admit to being pleased whenever archaeology confirms sources like the Chronicles, thumbing the revisionist nose. It’s fascinating that Islamic coins were found — nothing moves quicker than cash. How did scholars conclude that the “Repton charnel burial” contained Viking remains, since there were probably lots of slaughtered Anglo-Saxons to be disposed of (DNA wasn’t mentioned, and I’m not sure dessicated bones would work)?
Ditto. You and your insightful articles were missed from this forum. I would say “timely articles,” but after all, we are speaking of archeology! LOL
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is not the Saxon Chronicles by Cornwell. Not sure if you had them mixed up. I have read the entire series by Cornwell but havent touched the tome.
Thanks you for pointing that out. I’ve read substantial portions of both, and wondered why the monks suddenly became obsessed with Utred son of Utred.
If you haven’t watched the BBC-TV’s “The Last Kingdom”, it’s fun entertainment. I enjoyed seeing how the film-makers adapted Cornwell’s stories.
Ahh....those Norsemen....Long Ships arriving in the early misty dawn off the coast of Britain... men with fair hair braided with bones, tattoed and with cold blue eyes and even colder steel....unleashing general mayhem in Saxon England.
They say the blood-eagle was particularly painful.
By the Hammer of Thor and the Beard of Odin...I will see you in Valhalla !! :-):-)
I thought you may be familiar with the Chronicle and the Chronicles but most of the rest of us would not have known which you were referring to.
That’s a good tv series and reflects the books quite well. But I also watch Vikings so now I get confused.
Though an army of hundreds in the early middle ages was still a large undertaking.
For the Romans that was just a joke, but for the Anglo-Saxons, that was an Army
Islamic coins would make sense as Western Europe had collapsed and the Vikings made a log of money selling slaves to the Islamic world.
And the pussy Vikings of today put their lips on the mooselimb ass.
You are probably right about slaves, but I introduced an error on a important detail — the article actually says “Arab silver dirhams”, and I conflated that into “Islamic”. The former might be vastly older than the later. Two hundred years for the coins to travel from Byzantium, then through Ukraine & Russia to Scandinavia, then on Viking voyages to 870’s England seemed fast, but “Arab coins” expand the timeframe immensely. It would be interesting to hear a coin expert’s view of the speed that coins would travel in those times and places.
I don’t believe there were many Arab silver dirhams before the Abbassid Caliphate (c.750 AD) and definitely none before the early ummayyad (c 700 AD) so Islamic seems abotu accurate
The Great Army was much much larger, as the rest of the article and new research indicates. Good point about the Romans, though, after Augustus' reforms the entire Roman army was 280,000 strong (half auxiliaries) on paper, lower numbers in reality, to cover the whole Empire's frontiers and, at its peak, 50,000,000 residents.
The ones who inherited everything are their ancestors. The ones who had to leave to find their fortunes wound up making something of themselves, while simultaneously being a pain for everyone they encountered. :^)
Thanks for the kind remarks!
The Great Army got that name due to its size, not its behavior. When defeated, they got no mercy from the Anglo-Saxons. Based on the remains, apparently the defeated captives were stripped of everything, then mercilessly beaten to death, then mass buried. Want some more, just c’mon back.
Michael Wood tends to be PC and all kumbayah, but in his documentary “The Story of England” he noted that the villages under study were under Viking control, but the Vikings let the Anglo-Saxons self-govern on their side of the bridge, and the Vikings stuck to their side. When the Normans (who were Frenched-up Viking descendants) took over England in 1066 (it took them a couple of years at least to exert final control) they regarded the locals as little better than animals, and especially when they were in the pub (that was before pubs were called pubs). Their language sounded like the barking of dogs, so the story goes.
The Story of England With Michael Wood | Episode 1
Why was a 9th century Viking woman buried with a ring that says ‘for Allah’ on it?
Washington Post | March 18, 2015 | Adam Taylor
Posted on 02/05/2016 12:57:25 PM PST by beaversmom
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