Vikings (795-1100)


My Name is Vincent O'Brien and this is my school project on Vikings.

You are visitor No. To my Viking Page since th 5th April 1998

Contents


The Vikings Homelands

The Viking came from the North of Europe. Their homes were in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This region is known as Scandinavia. Some Vikings decided to go raiding because life was hard for them in their own countries. The land in Norway was poor and the weather was harsh with several months of snow and ice. It was difficult to grow crops. Where they could they sowed oats, wheat, barley and rye. With these they made coarse bread. They hunted birds, deer and rabbits. They also went fishing. They picked mushrooms and berries. They used herbs for medicine. The wool from the sheep gave great warmth in the winter.


The Vikings In Ireland 795-840

In 795 the monks on Lambay Island were suddenly attacked by Norse warriors .The raiders seized the monastic treasures robbed the food stores and set sail again. Continuing their journey westward the Norse captain led two further raids on island monasteries at Inisbofin and Inismurray. Filled with treasures gold and silver chalices and food the ships headed north for home. Each spring brought more raids. The only time the monks felt safe was on a stormy night. The raiders followed the same hit and run pattern each time. The pagan Norse had no respect for the monks chalices and relics and putting up a fight was out of question since the monks were no match for the Norse warriors. In 832 the number of attacks increased. Using the main Irish rivers as highways the Norsemen struck inland. By this time monasteries were no longer the only victims. Kings nobles and farmers were also raided. The map below shows the routes taken by the Vikings when they raided.


The Viking Settle in Ireland 840-950

Eventually some of the Vikings decided to settle permanently in Ireland. In 840 one group tied their long ships together and spent the winter months in Lough Neagh the following year others stayed the winter at Annagassan Co. Louth and another along the banks of the River Liffy in Co. Dublin.

To protect themselves against attacks from the Irish kings they built ship forts .Using their sharp axes the warriors cut down trees and shaped them into long planks of wood and built houses for shelter. Between 843 and 860 there was continuous fighting between the Irish kings and the Norse . By 860 the worst of the attacks were over and only a very small part of Ireland was under control of the Norse . There largest settlement was in Dublin. Once a ship fort had been established there, more and more Norse arrived to live in Dublin with their families and the town gradually developed. Helped by his neighbours he built a wattle and daub house. He supported himself by using those skills which he had learned in Norway -weaving, carpentry, leather working, shoe making and ship building. Others continued to trade wool and food with those ships which called to Dublin from England and France. Outside the new town Norse farmers settled. They found it much easier to farm in Ireland than in Scandinavia, for the weather was warmer and the soil more fertile. In 853 King Olaf of Norway ruled Dublin and the surrounding countryside. He married into an Irish family. The longer the Norse stayed in Ireland the more they mixed with the native Irish. Slowly they gave up their pagan beliefs and became Christians. They began to learn the Irish language and added words of their own like margadh and pingin. The Viking brought coins and a weighing scales to Ireland.

The Irish learned much about fighting from them. The Irish blacksmiths began to copy the Norse flat sword. The Irish also saw how important fleets of ships were in fighting wars. In 914 the Viking raids began once more when new fleets appeared off the cost of Ireland. They joined forces with those settled but soon the Irish pushed back the Norse attacks on the Northern kingdoms but were not successful in the South.

Viking Ships

Viking Ships were among the finest ever built. The longship was a swift graceful boat. The front and back were carved in the form of wild animals. The sail was large and square, usually striped and colourful. Each longship had a set of oars, and could be rowed along in calm weather. The Viking warriors hung their shields over the side.


The Struggle for the High Kingship of Ireland 950-1100

Brian Boru was well trained in fighting and an excellent leader. He was not satisfied to be king of Munster. He wanted to be the High King of Ireland. First Brian defeated the Limerick Vikings in battle. He allowed them to remain in the town as long as they agreed to pay a yearly tribute of gold for the privilege. The underkings had to pay a tribute of cattle and their armies had to support Brian in battle. Brian slowly established himself as king of Munster. In 1001 Brian launched a successful attack against the north and the following summer he gave himself the grand title of ‘Emperor of the Irish’. Brian Boru had many enemies. His greatest enemies were Mael Morda, King of Leinster and Sitric, the Viking of Dublin. These joined together to defeat him. Brian heard about their plans and in spring 1014 set out for Dublin. Mael Morda and Sitric also got their armies ready. Brian Boru was too old to lead his army and so his son led while he remained in a tent and prayed. On Good Friday at Clontarf the two armies faced each other. The Munster men were victorious. As the Norse soldiers fled Eric the Viking leader saw Brian Boru in his tent and killed him. Almost immediately afterwards war broke out between his two sons as to who should become the new king. In 1072 Turlough O’Brien the grandson of Brian Boru became High King. After his death in 1086 his son Murtagh had to fight for twelve years to secure the title for himself.


My name is Vincent O'Brien's and this is my fifth class school Project on Vikings at St. Michaels Boys Primary School, Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland. The project is all my own work, but my Dad helped me with the Web page. The rest of the family Home Page are as follows:- Our Email address is <hughobr@iol.ie>