30th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies
Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York City: March 27-28, 2010

Emer Purcell, "The Vikings in Ireland 795-836: Raids and Bases?"

The first generation of Viking activity in Ireland, c. 795-836 AD, is traditionally characterised as the period of the ‘hit-and-run’ raids. They came, they plundered and they left; either to return to the Homelands or to other Viking Colonies within the Irish Sea Province. Recent archaeological discoveries call for a reassessment of this view; for example, five male Viking burials excavated in Ship Street Great and South Great George’s Street in Dublin have been dated to late eighth and early ninth centuries. Contemporary habitation evidence found at the South Great George’s Street site, dates to the early to mid-ninth century, and the site excavator, Linzi Simpson, suggests that this may have been the location of the first longphort at Dublin. In this paper, I will review the contemporary annalistic references and examine the possibility that, even during this early period, the Vikings had some temporary bases on islands off the Irish coast and/or along the coast itself. This evidence will be examined with reference to first generation of Viking raids within the British Isles and on the Continent.


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