VIKING AGE IN IRELAND

WHO WERE THE VIKINGS

The Vikings or "Vikingr" in Old Norse, is the term used to describe the Scandinavian explorers, traders and warriors who raided, traded, explored and

settled across large parts of Europe, Asia, and North Atlantic islands.

The Vikings had their own belief system prior to Christianisation.  Known as Norse mythology.  It centered on gods such as Odin, Thor, Loki and Frey with some regional variations.  Dying in battle was seen as the most prestigious way to depart life, because it would guarantee you a seat in Valhalla.  By the 11th centuries most of all the Norsemen had converted to Christianity but held on to many of pagan beliefs until late into the medieval period.

DANEGELD - was a tax imposed by the Vikings on the countries they raided. By paying the Danegeld rulers could ensure their regions would not be attacked.

RUNES & RUNE STONES - Vikings had their own alphabet based on the Germanic runie script known as "futhark".  The Vikings would carve historical events into rocks using runes, now known as rune stones.

VIKINGS AS EXPLORERS

Vikings were feared for their famous long ships, extremely seaworthy vessels with a relatively flat bottoms that allowed the Vikings not only to travel oceans but also through shallow waters and straight onto beaches.

VIKINGS IN IRELAND

In 795 the Vikings raided Rathlin, Ireland where they burned the monestery because they held the most riches, livestock and slaves.  In time the Irish started building the Monesteries as tall stone towers.  The door was placed one floor up accessible by ladder.  Inside the tower each floor was accessed by further ladders.  If the Monks sighted the Vikings they would grab as much food & valuables as they could and climb into the tower and pull the ladder up.

For 30-40 years the Vikings engaged in hit & run raids getting te riches and slaves they were after.  In order to increase their booty the Vikings started to come over in 50-100 longboats at a time setting up camp in 841 at Annagassan, Dubhlin, Clonmachoise, Birr, Clonferi & Armagh.

In 851 the Vikings turned their attention to Britain and during the time the Irish took back their settlements in 902.  In 917 the Vikings re-captured Dublin. Between 917 & 919 the Irish tried to get back their settlements but during that time it was not only the Viking that raided the Irish, Kings & Lords joined in.  (I think that is where the expression came "if you can't beat them, join them".

In 921 the Vikings founded a new town called Weisfjord (Wexford) and a year later Limerick.  Between 934 - 952 numerous battles occurred between the Danes & Vikings for control of Viking towns.  Dubhlin was one of the most important cities in the Nordic world for trading and slaving.

In 952 Dubhlinn split from Danelaw and had its own Viking Kings.  The Viking settlements grew into towns and by the second half of  800 had become the principle supplier of slaves in the British Isles.  In 902 the Vikings were defeated in Dubhlinn, Cork,  Wadreford (Waterford) and Youghal by the Irish and moved their power base to the Isle of Man.

In 914 a large fleet of Vikings re-captured their settlement of Vadrefjord (Waterford) and after that the Irish didn't resist much when the Vikings re-captured Munster and Leinster and 917 they re-captured Dubhlinn.

By 950 the Vikings stopped raiding in Ireland and were developing themselves as traders.  They settled a good part of Ireland for 155 years.  Ireland was then taken over by the High Kings of Ireland.  The Vikings helped the Irish progress in terms of technology in building warships, weapons and battle tactics, as well as building the first towns such as Dublin, Cork and Waterford.