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The Viking Age in Ireland began in 795 when the Viking sea kings pillaged the Christian monasteries on the island’s west coast. Prior to the Viking age, Ireland was a remote island at the edge of the civilized world. Unlike the neighboring island of Britain, Ireland had not been a part of the Roman empire and this meant that it did not have roads, cities, or political institutions. It was generally seen by people in “civilized” Europe as being inhabited by a barbarous race. Following the Christianization of Ireland by St. Patrick, Ireland became the home to many monasteries. The monasteries were usually poorly defended militarily and they contained easily portable treasures and sacred relics which the Christian monks would pay high ransoms to retain. The monasteries thus attracted the Viking raiders.

For the first 40 years of the Viking Age, the raids were carried out by small, mobile groups. They would land—their shallow-draft longships did not require a wharf or pier—and quickly overrun the monasteries. After terrorizing the monks, the raiders would seize anything of value that was compact enough to carry on their ships. This included gold and silver, but also included iron tools and weapons, as well as clothing and food, all valuable items. Captured livestock was often slaughtered on the spot to provide fresh food for the raiders. During these 40 years every monastery was raided several times.

The raids were usually opportunistic, against targets that could be attacked, plundered, and departed from quickly. Vikings stayed along the coast or on navigable rivers; overland marches were avoided. The goal was to grab as much valuable booty as possible before an effective defense could be raised.

The Viking raiders depended on the superiority of their ships in order to make their raids a success. The shallow draft of Viking age ships meant that they could navigate shallow bays and rivers where other contemporary ships couldn't sail. The broad bottom of the Viking ships made it possible to land on any sandy beach, rather than requiring a harbor or pier or other prepared landing spot.

The raiding parties were tightly knit groups of men who were used to working together. All shared in the loot.

The historical accounts of the raids were written by the Christian clergy who had been terrorized by the Viking warriors. The accounts thus paint the raiders as a vile, pagan people. From the Viking perspective, raiding was an honorable challenge to a fight, with the victor retaining all of the spoils.

By 830, the Viking raids in Ireland began to change. Instead of small mobile groups, the raiders were now coming in large fleets. In 838, a large Viking fleet under the Norwegian sea king Turgeis (Thorgils) entered the River Liffey and established a land base for their operations. By 840, the Vikings were spending the winter on the island and establishing permanent bases along the coasts.

The Irish called the Viking bases longphorts. This is a word which was created by the Irish monks who combined the Latin words “longus” (long boat or ship) and “portus” (harbor). The longphorts were originally built to serve as camps for raiding parties. These fortified camps would usually be established along rivers at sites which were sheltered, easily defended, and provided immediate access to the sea. While many of these camps did not last long, others, such as the one established on the River Liffey, grew into large towns. Thus modern Dublin, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, and Limerick all began as Viking longphorts.

Viking Ireland

The map above shows the major Norse settlements in Ireland.

Irish Viking House

A reconstructed Viking house in Ireland is shown above.

Viking Dublin

An artist’s rendition of Viking Dublin is shown above.

While the Viking outpost at Dúbh Linn later became Dublin, another outpost, Linn Duchaill, was lost to history. While it was mentioned in the Annals of Ulster, a 15th century account of medieval Ireland, no-one knew where it was located. Using clues from histories and oral traditions, archaeologists searched for Linn Duchaill during 2005, 2006, and 2007. They finally found the site a couple of kilometers up the River Glyde about 70 kilometers north of Dublin.

Linn Duchaill was located on a flat area ideal for lifting boats out of water for repair and for shipbuilding. The site contains a series of defensive ditches about four meters deep. The archaeologists found evidence of impressive engineering. The Vikings had built an artificial island which would offer them protection from attacks by the indigenous Irish. The sites also had carpentry shops and smelting facilities. From an archaeological perspective, one of the strongest pieces of evidence that this was a Viking site is the total absence of pottery: the Vikings used wooden bowls. Also found at the site are some high status early Christian objects, probably part of the loot from their raids on the monasteries.

Slave chain

Shown above is a slave chain which archaeologists uncovered at Linn Duchaill. This bears testimony to another aspect of the Viking raids: the acquisition of Irish slaves who were often traded at Muslim markets in what is now Spain and Turkey.

Dublin not only survived, but thrived, while Linn Duchaill was abandoned. Dublin had better 24-hour access to the sea, while at Linn Duchaill there were tidal fluctuations which cut off access to the sea for several hours a day.

By 840, Turgeis had established a Hiberno-Norse Kingdom at Dublin. He not only imposed order on the Norse settlers, but he also arranged marriages and alliances with the Irish rulers. However, a large Danish fleet arrived in Ireland and there was conflict between the Danes and Norwegians regarding who should have the rights to plunder Ireland. At the naval battle of Carlingford Lough in 851, the Danes, with the aid of Irish allies, defeated the Norwegians.

In 852, a large Norwegian fleet under Olaf the White arrived in Ireland. Olaf defeated the Danes and sealed an alliance with the Irish royal family of Meath. Olaf and his brother Ivar consolidated an effective Scandinavian kingdom in Dublin. This new kingdom was focused primarily on sea trade and did not expand inland. At this time the primary exports from Ireland were hides, salted meat, and slaves.

In 902 the Irish successfully drove the Norse out of Ireland. However, the Vikings returned with a large fleet in 914-915. They defeated the Irish and re-took Dublin. In 967 Irish warriors sacked Limerick and began a military campaign against the Vikings. In 999, the Viking king of Dublin, Sitric Silkenbeard, surrendered to Brian Boru. In 1014, High King Brian Boru of Munster defeated the allied army of the Vikings and the King of Leinster at Clontarf. Thus ends Ireland’s Viking Era.  

Brian Boru

A painting of Brian Boru is shown above.

Originally posted to Ojibwa on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:57 AM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Pink Clubhouse, SciTech, and J Town.

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  •  Tip Jar (156+ / 0-)
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  •  My understanding is that the Vikings did a bit (20+ / 0-)

    more than terrorizing, unless evisceration is included in the terror package. But one man's warrior is another man's barbarian and history is written by the victors.

    “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

    by the fan man on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:23:39 AM PST

    •  Keep in mind (32+ / 0-)

      that many of the written accounts are from the viewpoint of the monks in the monasteries which they raided. While the popular image of the Vikings sees them in horned helmets (which they did not wear) engaged in savagery,  they were basically farmers. I'm sure this is an image with which those who have read only the Christian accounts will strongly disagree.

      •  Exactly the point of my second sentence. (7+ / 0-)

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:37:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Farming by slaves and serfs ... (12+ / 0-)

        I'd like to know more about the Vikings' agricultural methods -- Scandinavian agriculture wasn't all that robust, except for parts of Sweden, and the rest of the North Sea / High Atlantic has pretty marginal conditions.

        The Danelaw region of England seemed to embrace small farmsteads, with something like Feudal customs providing structure. York traded with all of Europe for hundreds of years, and I'm not sure how much raiding they did or didn't do out of that port.
        (Didn't the Anglo-Saxon kings take over York and the Danelaw sometime before the Irish took over their Viking towns?)

        What was the agriculture like around Viking settlements in Ireland, I wonder? Families and allies? Slaves?

        My Norwegian ancestors seemed to rely on fishing and shipping. Slaving is a terribly shameful aspect of Viking culture, but the records are clear.

        Lottery for dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Obama without a campaign contribution --

        by MT Spaces on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 09:38:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anglo Saxons came to Britain... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MT Spaces, Ojibwa

          ... before the Vikings.  By invitation ca 6th century from a couple of the petty kingdoms that formed after Rome left Britain.  The Anglo-Saxons figure in the Arthurian legends (by some authors - they're from the same time period).

          After the initial invitation, no more were forthcoming, but the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded.  The territory of the Angles became Angle-Land... which became the word England.

          There's quite a lot of info online about the Anglo-Saxon invasions, some of it even reliable.  I like the History Channel videos on YouTube.

          Beowulf was from the time period.  The most famous archaeological dig is at Sutton Hoo with the famous helmet and other things, but there are other hoards that have been dug up from the same period.  The archaeological digs are always fascinating.

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 05:05:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was thinking about the descendents of ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, NonnyO

            ... Alfred the Great as Anglo-Saxon kings.

            Of course, powerful Scandinavian kings annexed England to their short-lived empires a couple of times before William the Bastard, warlord of the Viking-spawned warrior class of Normandy, founded the state we call England today.

            Lottery for dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Obama without a campaign contribution --

            by MT Spaces on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 05:30:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  agriculture (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, MT Spaces, NonnyO

          Slavery was common in all of Europe at that time and had been as long as written records go.

          About agriculture, I'm not quite sure, but I think three-field-crop-rotation had not been invented yet.
          About Norway I don't know. Britain would have had all the advanced methods the Romans brought, like grafting fruit trees, or the introduction of spelt wheat.

          Their agriculture must have been very low-yield, I'd guess. There are comparisons from the Rhine valley (again, I wouldn't know Norwegian figures if there are any), stating that Celtic-Roman people in the region harvested something like 4 times of what they sawed, while Germanic people outside Roman territory harvested twice what they sawed at best.
          Livestock was tiny by modern comparison.
          My best guess would be that Vikings were heavily dependent on fish.

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:03:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lots and lots of fishing in Norway (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Only the coastal regions are arable and that's only some 10% of the entire land mass of Norway.  The rest is rugged mountains, often inaccessible.  Raising enough grain to feed a family has always proved difficult, and in olden days famine was just around the corner if the crops failed.

            Some of the southern areas of Norway have land flat enough to grow crops, but they have to thrive on fish, too.

            Many of my Norwegian ancestors were fishermen, and another relative (in-law) was listed as a Lofotofisker in census data (he did seasonal fishing in the Lofotens).  Another ancestor owned a jekt and that is a cargo boat that sails around the fjords of northern Norway delivering goods back and forth (where they lived was between two fjords).

            The Vikings who came after the first invaders (and some with the invaders) were people in search of enough land rich enough to grow grain to feed their families, because at heart they were farmers.  Once they invaded, that's precisely what they did: farmed.  In Norway they farmed what they could, fished, and the enterprising ones were merchants who traded throughout the known world.  Besides farming and fishing they were merchant traders and craftsmen.

            Here are a couple of videos to give you a general over-view of some info on the Vikings.  Obviously, there's lots more info to be had via books and reliable web sites such as what Ojibwa linked to, but if you don't have a lot of time, this will fill some four hours and 40 minutes.

            Vikings: Journey to New Worlds (on Hulu; sorry for the ads)

            Blood of the Vikings - Heritage  BBC Learning [3:39:54 - the below listed segments have been put on one YouTube video]
            The Sea Road
            Last of the Vikings

            Click around YouTube by searching for Vikings and for Anglo-Saxons.  They are related peoples, but became separate and distinct eventually.  Before they were Angles (southern Denmark, northern Germany), Saxons (Germans), Jutes (Danes), Vikings, Geats (Swedes), Northmen (Norwegians), Frisians (Dutch), their ancient ancestors were Celts.  See Hallstatt and LaTene.  Through a process of overpopulation and migration, people spread further and further westward and northward..., and eventually became distinct and separate peoples with different languages.  The language of the ancient Vikings is still spoken in Iceland.  It was so isolated for so many centuries that the language remained unchanged for a thousand years until modern times, but their Constitution is still the oldest working form of government in existence, and it's still valid for their government.  They also still use the patronymic naming system and women keep their own names their entire lives (makes it easy for genealogy researchers to find women in records; they don't become lost with name changes to marriage).  Norway only went to inheritable surnames, family names, in 1923 (by law).  Before that the records were kept according to the patronymic naming system.  (I do genealogy research in their records, as well as in Denmark and Sweden where the same naming patterns were in existence until the turn of the 20th century.)

            Whatever else can be said about them, they're an interesting group of people, and underneath the reputation for warlike ruthlessness are farmers longing for peace to be able to enjoy the poetry and songs of the skalds while feasting around the fire (well, Odin did give up one eye for knowledge/wisdom, so the Vikings couldn't be slouches in the artistic areas of life...).

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 06:28:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Well it would scare the bejeebers out of me! (7+ / 0-)

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:27:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The reason Scandinavia has so many beautiful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      women, a friend proud of his Swedish roots once explained to me, was because the Vikings raided most of Europe for nearly 700 years, and one thing they always did when they raided a town or village was carry off the best looking women and girls.

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 05:05:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Viking and Celtic motifs seem similar (17+ / 0-)

    on knitwear.  Do you know which was first?

  •  But Connaught held them off. (12+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:59:02 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the diary! Minor editorial comment: (10+ / 0-)

    It appears you cut and pasted twice in the intro...

    -5.12, -5.23

    We are men of action; lies do not become us.

    by ER Doc on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 09:18:06 AM PST

  •  Great diary, thanks (16+ / 0-)

    I was going to get lots of things done today, and must still, but this has just become my reading for the evening. Wish my Irish-ancestor'd daddy were still around to read it.

    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine. -- Abraham Lincoln

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 09:26:51 AM PST

  •  I learn so much from your diaries (20+ / 0-)

    This is news to me;

    the acquisition of Irish slaves who were often traded at Muslim markets in what is now Spain and Turkey; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action 48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

    by Shockwave on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 09:42:24 AM PST

    •  it is deliciously ironic (11+ / 0-)

      that ursula k. leguin's decision to put fair-haired slaves into earthsea as a way to write against the grain of contemporary fantasy's acceptance of 19th century racial caste imagery (fair = dominant, dark = subordinate) would unknowingly recapitulate an earlier european pattern of slavery (both roman and its arab mediterranean successor states) that enslaved the fair-haired ancestors of those who would fancy themselves aryans a millennia later.

      •  slavery pattern (0+ / 0-)

        I once read about a raid of north-African based Arab slavers on fishermen off the coast of Iceland, but it seemed to be a one-time incident. Probably too far away to become a business.

        About Aryans: To the best of my knowledge, "Aryans" is originally the tribal name for those indo-european groups that moved south-east in bronze age, invading India and today's Iran.

        Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

        by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:19:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  while true about the actual aryans (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but the 19th-20th century european idea of "aryan" was conjured up all the same, historical evidence notwithstanding.

          romans had a significant trade in fair haired northern european slaves, from the border wars and raiding invasions. if vikings were selling celts to the arabs in the middle ages (which is plausible given how far those viking ships ranged), it would seem to be a continuation of that older trade.

  •  Toured Dublin Castle this past June... (13+ / 0-)

    which included some excavations done in recent years. They showed us and described the Viking ruins found beneath the ruins of the old castle. This picture is part of the castle complex. Much of it is still used to host dignitaries and hold special functions.

  •  Red hair! (14+ / 0-)

    As far as I know, Vikings/Scandinavians were the only people to have red hair in the first place.  The Irish got the genes for red hair through intermarriage with the Scandinavian invaders.

    Anyone have anything to add, or further info on this?

    Superior diary.  Mahalo!

    A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

    by Hound Dog on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 10:38:36 AM PST

    •  IMO it wasn't really "intermarriage" (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Churchill, Onomastic, devtob, byteb, Lensy

      more like the rape part of rape and pillage.

      "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

      by high uintas on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:50:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not the only red heads (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hound Dog, Onomastic, devtob, bablhous, JVolvo

      There are red-headed Jews, and red-headed Kurds. In the case of the red-headed Jews it may have been Khazarian ancestry - that is, Central Asian, rather than Semitic - that introduced the red hair.

    •  Or, maybe I'm wrong (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, devtob, bablhous, Zenara
      The Irish got the genes for red hair through intermarriage with the Scandinavian invaders.

      Maybe the Irish didn't acquire genes for red hair from the Viking invaders.

      After reading the wikipedia entry for red hair, I don't see where the subject is specifically addressed.  

      It does say that

      Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads; 13 per cent of the population has red hair and approximately 40 per cent carries the recessive redhead gene.[11] Ireland has the second highest percentage; as many as 10 per cent of the Irish population has red, auburn, or strawberry blond hair.[12] It is thought that up to 46 percent of the Irish population carries the recessive redhead gene.

      Scotland and Ireland were both invaded by Vikings.  I guess to know if the Vikings are responsible for the high percentages of red hair, it would help to know what was the incidence of red hair prior to the Viking invasions and how that would have changed after.  I don't know if such info is even available.  I am certainly no geneticist or ethnographer, so, I'm out of my province, here.

      If anyone has more info, I'd be interested to have it.

      A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

      by Hound Dog on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 01:50:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I seem to recall that the Scotti... were an Irish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, Zenara

        Tribe from Northern Ireland originally and invaded/colonized/moved to Western Scotland sometime in the "Dark" ages @ 5ht century...... and that most of the red hair there and the very name of Scotland is from these Irish people... and I think to this day there is more red hair in the Western side of Scotland...

        Don't have a link on the Scoti being red-haired or not... but the recollection is that the red hair in Scotland came from Ireland mostly...

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 03:31:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nope. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hound Dog, bablhous, Zenara, ozsea1

      Red hair--both appearance of, and the recessive genes for it--are most common in Scotland and Ireland. So common that the notion that it came from Scandinavian invaders is absurd. Red hair does appear fairly commonly in Scandinavia--but less commonly than in those Celtic countries.

      Boudica, the Celtic queen of the Iceni in what is now England, who gave the Romans hell... had red hair (long before the Norse descended upon the British Isles). The biblical texts assert that both David and Esau (neither Scandinavian, Germanic, nor Celtic) had red hair, and red hair was for centuries associated with the Jews (and, as I recall, the Samaritans, their very close cousins). It also appears in Nigeria, and in other places, including among the Polynesians.

      It's uncommon in humans, overall--and most common in those two Celtic lands. But it is distributed among many, many, many peoples and it's believed that the genetic mutation dates back to about 50,000 years ago, when humans were exiting Africa.

      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

      by ogre on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 02:09:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you have info (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zenara, JVolvo

        on the incidence of red hair in Ireland and Scotland prior to the Viking invasions? and how it would changed after the invasions?

        I'd hate to have any more absurd thoughts, ya know?  ; - )

        A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

        by Hound Dog on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 02:15:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  see my reply above/below - great book on DNA (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Hound Dog

          to source Brit Isles 'heritage'.  Not sure about ogre's ideas.

          It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. - Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

          by JVolvo on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 04:49:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know that there's any (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          archeological data.

          The Romans are pretty much the source for much of what we know. The Celts weren't a single racial type, but rather a collection of peoples with closely related languages and cultures.

          Diodorus said Gauls (Celts in what's now France, Belgium, some of Germany) were tall and fair with loud voices and piercing eyes.

          Tacitus identified the Caledonii of Scotland as having reddish hair and large loose limbs (the Silurians of Wales were swarthy with dark curly hair).

          The Welsh aren't noted today for fair hair or redheads. The Scots were--and the Scots and Irish are really closely interwoven, culturally, linguistically and genetically.

          I don't think the Norse invasions likely changed the genetic mix of Ireland and Scotland that much; there were already substantial native populations. The invaders weren't a huge colonizing force (not like the Franks and others moving their whole tribes into Roman Gaul). They were more akin to the Normans--decapitating the native leadership and putting themselves at the top--than to Franks (moving in wholesale).

          It seems unlikely that a recessive that's less common in Scandinavia than it is in Ireland and Scotland would come out of Scandinavia to Ireland and Scotland. To get that sort of effect, you'd have to have some way of selecting Norse redheads (or at least those carrying the genes) so that they were for some reason far, far more common among the invading Vikings than they were in their homeland... and you'd have to have them really outbreeding the native populations. That's just mathematically unlikely (and the history doesn't tend to bear it out. The Norse settled very specific, limited areas of Ireland, only). Further, my impression is that the folk of the far West of Ireland (not an area that the Norse were particularly active in) are as likely to be very fair and redheaded as folk other areas of Ireland.

          The kind of effect you're envisioning is a 'founder effect' that requires one of two situations; either a very small initial population, so that relatively unusual genes can be (by some odd chance) far more common in the settlement population, or a small group of closely related men (mostly) (thus sharing genetic idiosyncrasies) breed with astonishing numbers of women (the best example of this I know of are the Mongol lords; there are genes that are fairly common, essentially identical (so recent, unmutated) and spread across the realm that Genghis et al. created). Neither of those fits the Irish and Scots examples.

          "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

          by ogre on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 10:43:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Red hair with blue vs. hazel eyes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This redhead, with ancestors from both Ireland (Cork, mostly) and Scotland, always thought I got my coloring from the Scottish side -- greeny-brown eyes, darkish brows and real coppery hair instead of the more Irish blue eyes and light red locks.

        I don't know why I thought this, could it be true?

      •  far off people (0+ / 0-)

        I watched one documentary on some tribe in the African rift valley, I think, who were of course black, but most had reddish hair. That was attributed to some sort of malnutrition (they mostly ate freshwater fish), of which I couldn't see any connection to hair colour.
        Similarly, I've seen photgraphs of some Australian Aborigines, dark-skinned and red-haired. This was attributed to shipwrecked Dutch sailours in the area. I don't quite believe it because the gene is supposed to be recessive.

        Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

        by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:38:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amazing book on using DNA to sort out genetic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Hound Dog

      history of British Isles:

      Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland

      While the maternal DNA is faaaar older, Viking (male) DNA is very prevelant on Orkney and Shetland (isles off Scotland's northern tip), significant in Scotland and much less so in Ireland (except for patches along the east coast).

      Really cool read combining history (some is myth), archeology and then undeniable DNA data from large-scale sampling (10K) taken in 2004-5 ish.

      Get thee to a bookery  :o)

      It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. - Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

      by JVolvo on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 04:46:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  red hair (0+ / 0-)

      There are ancient DNA studies that indicate Neanderthals had red hair (or at least some of them).
      They don't claim yet to have worked out whether modern-day readheads got it from there, or whether the mutation occured repeatedly. It is being said however that blond hair and blue eyes are a more recent mutation.

      Be that as it may, red hair usually goes with pale skin (often freckled), and pale skin is an adaptation to lack of sunlight, so a pale, red-haired population would indicate that their ancestors lived in a rather dark and/or cold place (cold = need to cover skin with clothing) for very many generations.

      Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

      by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:27:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my cousin, a red-head, once corrected me, "fair" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        not "pale."  Pale skin is sickly.  

        I am the fairest in the land.

        "There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” ― Ernest Hemingway

        by TriciaK on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 05:54:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My Father said of the Vikings (7+ / 0-)

    That their raids were done in retaliation against the Christians because Christian priests were forcing, at point of sword, the Scandinavian population to become Christian.

    •  The timing seems kind of right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, high uintas, Onomastic

      for that, if you can believe Wikipedia. But I've never heard that before.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 10:57:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think that's quite right (12+ / 0-)

        It is true that some Danish kings "converted" in the 800s, but that was mostly a result of alliances forged to gain military advantage, not force of arms directly. Besides, even if the King was at times nominally Christian, that didn't necessarily affect most people's religious practices. Moreover, Denmark was not united under a single king until the mid 900s.

        Also, as Ojibwa mentions, most of the early raids on Ireland were Norwegian, and the Norwegians did not convert to Christianity until king Haakon the Good who ruled in the mid 900's, which is after the Vikings were kicked out of Ireland. Also, Haakon's successors were staunchly pagan, and it took almost another hundred years for Norway to permanently become Christian.

        "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

        by Drobin on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:25:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Charlemagne: Irmensul and the Verden massacre (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The causes of the Viking Age are too numerous to count and no account is credible which points toward a single cause.

          That said, prior to Lindisfarne and the raids on Ireland and the Western Isles, Charlemagne had moved to forcibly convert Saxon lands to the north. The lands were bordering on Denmark and well-integrated into the Viking cultural and economic orbit. Notable episodes in the campaign included the destruction of Irmensul, the Saxon's most important shrine, essentially their Yggdrasil, and forced conversion and execution of thousands at Verden. These would have been live, fresh memories among Vikings in the 780s and 790s and provided an additional motivation beyond the material for targeting sacred sites.

        •  Agreed, but: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Besides, even if the King was at times nominally Christian, that didn't necessarily affect most people's religious practices.

          At the time, it was common that the king's faith was the peoples' faith.
          When the kings of the Franks converted to Christianity, they expected all their people to follow. (King Clovis I killed one of his best long-term warriors without warning for not abandoning the pagan loot distribution rule and not ceding a church item to the bishop upon the king's order.)
          Also, as soon as Duke Wittekind of the Saxons had surrendered to Charlemagne, the Saxons were considered Christians.
          This was still so well in the 17th century (30 years war).

          But I don't think that was what drove the Vikings either. There may have been a climate cooling that rendered agriculture less successful, but a major factor was in any case whethter local kings/rulers/elites could defend their coutries against raiders (like Charlemagne or the Romans mostly could, or the Brian Boru mentioned), or not.

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:57:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Forced conversion... (7+ / 0-)

      did not take place on any large scale until King Olaf II of Norway (11th century) decided that it would be a capital idea... his subjects thought otherwise, and the royal army got their arses kicked by a bunch of farmers near Stiklestad. Ironically, Olaf II became Norway's first saint.

    • had nothing to do with Christians (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Ojibwa, jeff in nyc, JVolvo

      and everything to do with cold winters, little land and a growing population.

  •  Fascinating, Ojibwa, many thanks for this diary! (8+ / 0-)

    Karen, remember that Swedish film, The Virgin Spring?  Even now it fills me with dread to watch it. It just tears me up.

    The monks had a prayer, didn't they:

    "From ghoulies and beasties
    And things that go bump in the night
    From the fury of the Northmen,
    Good Lord, deliver us!"

    I may have got this slightly mixed (too large a lunch today).

    Re the red hair--weren't the Celts red-haired as well?  The Scots were essentially overseas Irish to begin with.  Remember how, in the fascinatingly inaccurate film Braveheart, the Irish mercenaries hired by the English refused to fight the Scots?  They ran toward them, calling "Cousin!  Cousin!"

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 10:54:24 AM PST

  •  Thanks for more Vikings, Ojibwa. This diary, (6+ / 0-)

    in addition to fleshing this part of the Viking's exploits for me, has put me in mind of the "What's in your wallet" Capital One ad campaign, lol.  

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:00:34 AM PST

  •  Nice diary! (7+ / 0-)

    Although now I have the earworm "Brian Boru's March" running in my head.  Played it (flute harp and drum) on St. Patricks Day a number of years ago and it has stuck like a burr in the gorse.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:35:09 AM PST

  •  Enjoyed this diary (7+ / 0-)

    Brian Boru must have been some guy.

    There are Irish pubs throughout the US named after him :-)

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:57:14 AM PST

  •  Sitric Silkenbeard (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nickrud, mookins, bablhous, Lensy, JVolvo, zett

    Isn't he from the mines of Moria or am I mistaken?

    "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

    by high uintas on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 12:21:33 PM PST

  •  Thanks Ojibwa... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Ojibwa, bablhous, JVolvo

    For another great diary.

    "Patients are not consumers" - Paul Krugman

    by assyrian64 on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 12:27:46 PM PST

  •  Brian Bóruma macCennétig's death at the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, valadon, bablhous, JVolvo

    Battle of Clontarf may have changed the history of Ireland.

    Had Brian survived this conflict, and had he been but a few years younger, how different might have been the political and social state of Ireland even at the present day! The Danish power was overthrown, and never again obtained an ascendency in the country. It needed but one strong will, one wise head, one brave arm, to consolidate the nation, and to establish a regular monarchy; for there was mettle enough in the Celt, if only united, to resist foreign invasion for all time to come.

    Thanks for another history lesson, Ojibwa.

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. ~ George Washington

    by 4Freedom on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 12:53:47 PM PST

  •  thanks, and a small contribution (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, a gilas girl, zett

    The Viking influence in Ireland is even more complex than described here. The influences were massive and in both directions, the principle vectors of influence were trade and intermarriage/kinship affiliations, not raids. Often the leader of a Viking invading force would ally with one local Irish king against another and perhaps cement the relationship in marriage, only to see it ruptured and alliances shift again in succession struggles. Messy stuff. But the greatest lasting impacts were via settlement, which often enough included violence, but is something altogether different than the raiding party. Indeed a common thing was to settle an area from which raids could be launched.

    The most important additional layer I would add to the enjoyable historical narrative presented here relates to the historic role of the ‘Hiberno-Norse’ civilization. (Some sometimes use the terms Celtic Norse or Gaelic Norse to refer to substantially the same phenomenon). Interposed between the Irish proper, the rest of what we know as the United Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Norway was a kingdom-like region bordering the Irish Sea which functioned as a hybrid civilization for 500 years, mostly centered in the Isle of Man, but encompassing most of the Irish Viking settlements and the southern reaches of permanent Norwegian populations settled in the North and Western Scotland bleeding over into the Western Isles and Galloway.

    As often as not this hybrid civilization – hybrid in every sense: genetics, elements of religion, political structures, trading networks, art and craftsmanship – resisted subsequent Viking invasions and participated in raids and settlements in Ireland and elsewhere. This overlooked historical wrinkle I think adds texture to our understanding of the Viking Age, in particular as it relates to Ireland.

    While the Viking influence in Ireland is quite large I would venture to say that for various reasons the depth of impact is more marginal than on Scotland (certainly) and much of England (e.g. the Danelaw), York, and parts of Northwestern England. There were many settlers, and of course, many cities founded, including Dublin, but the native Irish were relatively successful at dislodging Viking war parties and over time all but the most thoroughly assimilated Viking communities. (see Griffiths, Vikings of the Irish Sea, 2010; related but further north mostly is Marsden, Somerled: Emergence of Gaelic Scotland, 2005).

    It is fair to say Ireland was not during the Roman period or later at the forefront of consciousness in the rest of Europe but it is not fair to say it was isolated, at least not in some respects. Archaeological evidence shows the island was far from isolated in terms of trade networks. The influence of St. Columba via the Iona monastery and its reach during the Dark Ages and beyond was enormous in a great many ways (see Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization).

    Wife and I had the pleasure to visit some of these regions in Scotland, in particular Iona and Isle of Mull, as well as Dublin, just last year about this time in the middle of severe snow storm in Europe. Can’t wait to return and throw in The Orkneys and Shetland Islands.

    •  Check out this cool book re Viking influence on (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, a gilas girl, Hugin

      British Isles re DNA:

      Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland

      Very interesting read.

      It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. - Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

      by JVolvo on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 04:53:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What never ceased to puzzle me: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Hugin

      Ireland was never Roman, and never forcibly christianized. They somehow heard of Christianity and thought it was a great idea, turned to it with vigour, and then sent missionaries to England and Germany.
      What on earth did they believe in prior to that time, that made that transition so smooth? Nowhere else did things go that way, as far as I know.

      Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

      by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:21:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  St. Patrick, community, and education (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You raise a good question to which I think the answer is a blend of the three elements alluded to in my subject.

        First, St. Patrick was an enormously successful missionary whose success depended in part on his uniquely flexible approach which respected (by and large) and adapted to prevailing cultural traditions. Embrace through persuasion and deed not conversion at the tip of a sword.

        Second, early Christian communities became comparatively more stable for their members. As elsewhere, Christianity played an important role in political centralization and the building of local communities and towns where individuals and families were able to mutually benefit from their proximity and labor specialization.

        Third, the early missionaries produced in just a few generations a remarkably broad degree of literacy for a Middle Ages population. Not only was learning a draw toward the church, the church was also therefore in a unique position to exert its own influence and image over the historic evolution of those on the Emerald Isle.

  •  In Ireland now. Visited Occupy Dame Street/Dublin (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notreadytobenice, JVolvo, Ojibwa, zett

    I'm visiting Ireland on business (from Boston) with a co-worker and we made our way over to Dublin today for some sightseeing... our main target was the Guinness brewery :-).

    Following the Guinness tour we toured St. Patrick's Cathedral and then dropped downtown. There we discovered a group of Occupy Dame Street protesters. We knew we had to park and visit with them a bit to offer encouragement. We chatted with several for awhile and took some pix, which I'll post later as I don't have a way to get them off the camera at the moment. This is a pretty well-established outfit, for sure! Here's a pic from October from their Facebook page.

    Their encampment is actually on a concrete plaza, not a park with grass. They expect that their hardy band of 30-60 folks will be there through the winter (at least until March). They've built a sturdy-looking structure for their headquarters. And unlike most sites in the states, they remarked that the police have been quite supportive and have no intention of forcing them to remove their structure and tents.

    I didn't know about it prior to visiting Dublin, but apparently there was a really large march/parade/protest yesterday by a group called "Spectacle of Alliance and Hope" that is supported by OSD. They were protesting cuts to social services prior to announcements today of new austeity measures. Here's a link to video (it was BIG): I didn't hear anything about this on the radio or tv, but perhaps that was because we were on the road a lot in eastern Ireland all day. But then, perhaps they've got a media blackout on these protests as there are in the states.

    "Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." ~ Bob Marley

    by cyberKosFan on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 04:16:17 PM PST

  •  These diaries are just priceless to me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, a gilas girl

    My father was of Irish heritage and my mother was of Norwegian heritage.  Both parents are deceased now, but I'd love to hear their reaction to this information!  And i'm learning so much from these diaries.  Many thanks, Ojibwa.

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis D. Brandeis

    by 3goldens on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 04:52:30 PM PST

  •  Lost Gods of England (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, zett

    Read a good book long ago on paganism in the British Isles, The Lost Gods of England by Brian Branston. Out of print I believe, but available used.

    The author presents evidence that pre-Christian Britain was heavily influenced by Old Norse paganism, long before the Viking invasion.

    Branston says that determining the extent of which the early people were practicing heathens is hard and mainly of the Church's making:

    Usually, no opponents fight more bitterly and to the death than warring religions. True, the winner will sometimes wear its opponents creeds like scalps--but not round the waist: every effort is made to obilterate the memory of whence the creed came and the scalp is worn as a toupee and passed off as real hair. The Christian religion had done this in the very beginning when it was struggling for dear life against the Hellenistic faiths of the eastern Mediterranean and Christ was dealing with Attis and Adonis and Osiris and especially Mithras; Christianity adopted the alien ideas again when in England the missionary monks acted on the device of Pope Gregory the great and incorporated local heathen customs into the conduct of the Christian year. Once Christianity was accepted in England the Church had no compunction about obliterating the memory of the heathen origin while retaining the custom of Yule-tide and harvest festivals for instance...
  •  drafty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for the diary!
    About that photograph of the reconstructed house: That looks very drafty to me. Houses with a wicker construction hereabouts usually have a straw&clay packing. Do you know whether that one has some insulation on the inside at least?

    Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

    by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:35:21 PM PST

  •  As a descendant of Norwegians, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Ojibwa

    I have a few things to say. First, the Vikings invaded and raped and pillaged in Ireland. They also had a great big influence in Scotland and Northern England (there was a part of England known as "Danelaw," meaning they were under the Danish/Viking law). Normandy in France got its name from the Northmen/Vikings. Plus, Vikings were in Russia (the "Rus").

    Second, there's a great fictional story called "We Are Norsemen" by T. Coraghessan Boyle. (Covered by copyright, so you'll have to find it yourself.)

    Third, Viking raids pretty much stopped after St. Olaf brought Christianity to Norway (around 1000 to 1100).

    Fourth, the Romans took over southern England (and built Hadrian's Wall to keep the Scots out), but never went to Ireland. Then, when the Romans left, the Angles, Saxon, Jutes, and Frisians (collectively known as Anglo-Saxons) came to England. But they never invaded Ireland, either. Then, in 1066, came the Norman invasion of England, and about 100 years later, the Normans invaded Ireland.

    The Norman invasion of England (from France) would not have been successful if King Harald of Norway had not first invaded from the north. King Harold of England had to send his army north to fight against Harald (Harold-with-an-O was English and Harald-with-an-A was Norse). Harold beat Harald, but in the meantime, William the Conqueror had invaded southern England, so Harold had to send his army south and William became The Conqueror.

    I love this period of history. Thanks, Ojibwa, for the diary.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 11:55:45 PM PST

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