8a. F2012 Vikings - Some notes


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Some notes on the arrival of Vikings from Norway and Denmark. Viking loot from the British Isles in Norway

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  • Types c. 11, 12 d. 1CNorth1c. ¾ where material identified are reindeer11,12 12/14 are reindeerWest Scotland 2 are red deerNo reindeer combs positively dated to before 9th century.
  • In Norway, more Irish Viking Age objects havesurvived than in their original homeland.: On the one hand, the intersecting of the Celticworld in Norway, especially in Western Norway, by farsurpassed that of any other countries (Fig.18). On theother hand, the pagan form burial in depositing personalornaments, arms and other implements into the gravesstill existed in Norway a long time after the Christianfaith had abolished this mode of interment on the WesternIsles. Traditionally, the clerical objects have been thoughtto have been plundered from churches and cloisters bythe Vikings when the profane items had all been traded.Nonetheless, C. Blindheim comments that some of theclerical objects could have been gifts used in missionaryactivity (Blindheim 1976:166). In any case, we cannotbe absolutely sure if any of the profane objects had beenViking loot or not. In Western Norway, almost 39 out ofthe157 graves with insular object or objects containingconsecrated insular objects were torn from holy books,altar garniture, etc. Eighty-nine must be reckoned as profanewhereas the remaining are uncertain.An interesting trait is also that the insular objects werefound to a greater extent in women’s graves. In most cases,this can be explained as the bronze plaques beingadapted as brooches and worn by women.Weighing equipmentis usually referred to as the tools of tradesmen. Findingtools such as this in female graves therefore gives rise toquestions about gender and the division of labour. Withregard to this grave a previous explanation can be used,but looking into the number of female graves with scales,we can see that this is more frequent than we would think:Of 37 graves from Russia with Scandinavian fi nds that includeweighing equipment, 22% are women’s graves and48% men. In Birka, 32% of 132 graves with weighingequipment belonged to women, while 28% were malegraves.
  • Vessels of this kind are usually interpreted as havingbeen for liturgical use, for washing the hands or as lampsin the churches. Hence, the hanging bowls found in Norwegiangraves are supposed to have been robbed fromchurches and cloisters (Henry 1936:211). In a hangingbowl of this kind found in a grave in the Viking town ofKaupang in Vestfold, there is a runic inscription “imundtlauku,”which is interpreted as “in the wash tub.”Jet ring known from Whtiby.
  • Wooden bucket with bronze mountings 18 cm high“The pails, therefore,seem to belong to that part of the Hiberno-Saxon artprovince where inhabited vine-scrolls was a commonand popular motif in the eight century, and judgingfrom its distribution on stone monuments, it can onlybe Northumbrian” (
  • The Codex Amiatinus, designated by siglum A, is the earliest surviving manuscript of the nearly complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate version,[1] and is considered to be the most accurate copy of St. Jerome's text. It is missing the Book of Baruch. It was produced in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria as a gift for the Pope, and dates to the start of the 8th century. The Codex is also a fine specimen of medieval calligraphy, and is now kept at Florence in the BibliotecaMediceaLaurenziana. Originally three copies of the Bible were commissioned by Ceolfrid in 692.[1] This date has been established as the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow secured a grant of additional land to raise the 2000 head of cattle needed to produce the vellum. Bede was most likely involved in the compilation. Ceolfrid accompanied one copy intended as a gift to Pope Gregory II, but he died on route to Rome.[1] The book later appears in the 9th century in Abbey of the Saviour, Monte Amiata in Tuscany (hence the description "Amiatinus"), where it remained until 1786 when it passed to the Laurentian Library in Florence. It is preserved in an immense tome, measuring 19¼ inches high, 13⅜ inches in breadth, and 7 inches thick, and weighs over 75 poundsThe St Cuthbert Gospel is a pocket-sized book, 138 by 92 millimetres (5.4 × 3.6 in), of the Gospel of St John written in uncial script on 94 vellum folios. It is bound in wooden cover boards, covered with tooled red leather. The original tooled red goatskin binding is the earliest surviving intact Western binding, and the virtually unique survivor of decorated Insular leatherwork.
  • Shetelig believes the balance scales to also be of insular origin because of the same markedly tin-coated bronze as coating on the lead weights
  • 15th century mural. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records under 870: ‘In this year the raiding [Danish] army took up winter quarters at Thetford. And that winter King Edmund fought against them, and the Danes had the victory, and killed the king and conquered all the land.’Abbo's story of its loss and recovery is a product of a creative imagination inspired by incidents in other hagiographies. Abbo relates that the Danes left the body at the place of martyrdom but threw the head into brambles in the wood at ‘Haeglesdun’. Later, Christians found the body and searched for the head. They made a noise meanwhile by signalling to each other with horns and pipes, but one party went to a silent part of the wood, calling ‘“Where are you?” and marvellous to relate … the head replied in their native tongue, “Here, here, here”’. The head was found guarded between the paws of a wolf ‘of terrible appearance’ (Abbo of Fleury, § 12.41–3). The wolf followed the Christians as they carried the head to the body for burial, before retreating again into the wood. The Christians fitted the head on to the body, buried the whole, and built a simple chapel over the grave.
  • 8a. F2012 Vikings - Some notes

    1. 1. Alfred and theViking Threat
    2. 2. Rational bandits: Plunder, public goods, and the Vikings The economics of banditry• Roving bandit receives large, individual benefits from plunder at the expense of society as a whole – Unrestricted plundering leads to competition – Plunder used for local infrastructure
    3. 3. Rational bandits: Plunder, public goods, and the Vikings The economics of banditry• Roving bandit becomes stationary bandit – Receives local taxation – Accepted because protects area from other bandits• Provides security and legal institutions – Economic growth
    4. 4. Viking Ship
    5. 5. Viking Conquests – Northern Europe
    6. 6. Orkney• Christian contact reported c. 600; Irish contact 709; Broch settlements used by Picts• Domestic rubbish includes cow, sheep, pig and red deer• Sagas report Norwegian settlement c. 870• Viking era layers indicate some coexistence?
    7. 7. Admixed Scandinavian British/Irishpopulation Y- mtDNA Y- mtDNA chromosome chromosomeShetland 0.445 0.43 ,555 .57Orkney 0.31 0.305 .69 .695Scottish NW .15 .145 .85 .855coastWestern .225 .11 0.775 0.89Isles andSkye Iceland .75 .34 0.25 0.66 Genetics
    8. 8. A Bone of Contention OrkneyAshby, Steven P “Combs, Contact and Chronology: Reconsidering Hair Combsin Early-Historic and Viking-Age Atlantic Scotland” Medieval Archaeology,53, 2009
    9. 9. Pictish Combs
    10. 10. Insular Art in Norwegian Graves
    11. 11. Gausel hanging bowl
    12. 12. Brooch, Vinjum in Aurland Killarney Brooch
    13. 13. Hopperstad bucket
    14. 14. Codex Amiatinus, Wearmouth-Jarrow Cuthbert Gospel, Lindisfarne
    15. 15. Balance and Weights, Hopperstad, Norway
    16. 16. Fellow travelersNorway mice asindicators of whereNorwegian Viking shipsland
    17. 17. Martyrdom of St. Edmund Pickering, Yorkshire
    18. 18. Alfred faces the Great Army