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18 September 2014
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After the Viking Conquest: Go Further


A History of the English Language by NF Blake (Palgrave Macmillan, 1996). An accessible and modern discussion of the growth of English, written by an eminent historical linguist.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names by E Ekwall (Oxford University Press, 1960). Still the broadest and most useful book on place names.

The Origins and Development of the English Language by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo (Thomas Learning, 1992). A comprehensive guide to the evolution of English, well organised into sections.

The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England edited by Michael Lapidge, John Blair, Simon Keynes and Donald Scragg (Blackwell Publishers, 2000). A thorough and interesting guide by leading scholars into all aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture, including entries on the Vikings, Old Norse, place-names, and numerous individuals, texts, and places.

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Viking edited by Peter Sawyer (Oxford University Press, 2001). A colourful and full discussion of the lives and activities of the Vikings.

Chronicles of the Vikings: Records, Memorials and Myths by RI Page (British Museum Press, 2001)

Cultural Atlas of the Viking World by James Graham-Campbell, Colleen Batey, Helen Clarke, RI Page and Neil S Price (Facts on File, 1994)

Viking Scotland by Anna Ritchie (BT Batsford, 1993)

Viking Age England by Julian D Richards (Tempus Publishing, 2004)

The Viking Dig: Excavations at York by Richard Hall (Bodley Head, 1984)

Scar: A Viking Boat Burial on Sanday, Orkney by Olwyn Owen and Magnar Dalland (Tuckwell Press, 1999)

The Age of Charlemagne by Donald Bullough (Elek, 1965).

Orkneyinga Saga translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards (Hogarth Press, 1978)


Viking Network Web: A site that examines the Viking legacy in the British Isles. Includes maps of their settlements, a dictionary describing their influence on the English language and tales from Scandinavian mythology.

Vikings: the North Atlantic Saga (Smithsonian Institute): An interative tour through the Smithsonian Viking exhibition, which explores the Vikings' arrival and settlement in North America.

Early Medieval Corpus (Fitzwilliam Museum): The Fitzwilliam Coin Corpus is an amazing database of coin finds in Britain 410-1180. The site includes images, maps, full descriptions of coins and links to many other coin collections worldwide.

Viking Ship Museum: The museum has images and descriptions of finds from the great ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, as well as finds from the chieftain grave at Borre in Norway.

Anglo-Saxon England (Minnesota State University): The Anglo-Saxon England Ring contains some interesting material on King Canute.

The Vikings: The National Association of Re-enactments offers the chance to watch or take part in re-created moments from the past.

The World of the Vikings: An ever-changing mix of Viking-related material.

The History of the English Language: With interesting material on the development of English.

Word Detective: A more humorous look at the development of language.

[The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.]

Places to visit

The most obvious place to visit to learn more about the Vikings is the Jorvik Centre in York. York itself was the seat of Viking kings, and the Centre recreates the sights, sounds and smells of the tenth-century city.

Other cities with excellent museums that include finds from Viking settlements are Leicester (Jewry Wall Museum) and Nottingham (Castle Museum). Most cities also have dedicated museums, including Lincoln, Derby, Peterborough and Norwich. In these, information about the history of the regions and archaeological discoveries bring the Viking and early medieval periods to life.

Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh: Viking artefacts from across Scotland, and a reconstructed grave from the Westness cemetery, Orkney.

The Orkney Museum, Kirkwall, Orkney: The Viking gallery includes the story of the Scar boat burial, and a modern Norwegian boat of similar type can be seen in the courtyard.

Brough of Birsay, Orkney - you will find the remains of Viking houses and a 12th-century church on this spectacular tidal island.

Jarlshof, Shetland - a stunning site that spans five and a half millennia, including four centuries of a Viking farmstead.

To see how the Anglo-Saxons lived and worked, visit West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village in Suffolk. St Edmund himself, martyred by the Vikings in the 9th century, was interred at the abbey of nearby Bury St Edmunds.

Bede's World, in Jarrow, Northumberland, is a wonderful site, recreating many aspects of early Anglo-Saxon England. The nearby church of Jarrow was where Bede himself lived and worked, and it still retains the original foundation stone for all to see.

In 991, the East Anglian Anglo-Saxons, led by Earl Byrthnorth, were totally defeated by the Vikings at the Battle of Maldon. The site of this battle, commemorated in the famous Old English poem 'The Battle of Maldon', can still be visited today, near the River Pante in Essex.

More things to do

Heritage Trails: Most cities now offer heritage trails, available from tourist information centres, which allow you to retrace the footsteps of medieval ancestors, and investigate the surviving architecture from earlier centuries.

Libraries and Local History Museums: Local libraries will provide a wealth of interesting material for the medieval period and the Viking settlements. Look especially for local history books and pamphlets, which will provide a guide to places of interest in your locality. Local history and archaeology groups often have public lectures on aspects of early England. These should be advertised in your local library, or look up special interest groups in the telephone directory.

Sign-spotting: Travelling around the old Danelaw counties investigating place names is a fun and rewarding activity. You can also do this with a map from your armchair! Try to find as many places as possible with Old English origins (ending in -tun, -burh, -feld, for example), and with Scandinavian origins (-by, -thorpe, -toft, -thwaite), to work out where the Viking settlers chose to make their homes, how close they were to their English neighbours, and the kinds of activities in which they might have engaged.

Living History: There are numerous re-enactment groups who stage annual events where villages and battles are recreated. These are advertised by English Heritage, local newspapers and tourist information centres. The Vikings, a living history group, puts on a whole range of activities.

Published: 25-05-2005

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