Here is how it all started.....
Viking raids on England started in the late 8th century. The attack on
Lindisfarne monastery in 793 was a particularly dramatic and significant event,
heralding the onset of frequent raids on coastal communities, with churches and
monasteries being particularly targeted for their wealth.
Sporadic raiding gradually turned to larger-scale assaults, as war-bands
amalgamated, and these took on a more political aim. Over-wintering in defended
camps, the control of extensive areas of land, and the extraction of 'protection
money' (the so-called Danegeld) became
characteristic of Viking activity in England.
To start with, English resistance was uncoordinated and often ineffective.
'England' was a region of several independent kingdoms - often at war with each
other - and the lack of a unified political and military structure meant that
Viking war-bands could roam the countryside with some impunity. Eventually, King
Alfred of Wessex was able to confront the Viking 'Great Army' at Edington,
in 878, when his victory enabled him to establish terms for peace, though this
did not put a complete stop to Viking activity which continued on and off for
several more generations. Alfred had to concede the northern and eastern
counties to the Vikings, where their disbanded armies settled, created new
settlements and merged with the local populations. Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby,
Stamford and Leicester became important Viking towns within The Danelaw (or 'Scandinavian
England'), while York became the
capital of the Viking
Kingdom of York which extended more or less over what we call Yorkshire.
These areas were gradually reconquered and brought back under English control
by Alfred's successors, but not before the Scandinavian influence had been
locally imprinted to
an extent which is still detectable today.
After the Battle of
Clontarf (1014) many of the Hiberno-Norse Vikings migrated to England and
settled in the north-west, from the Wirral to the Lake District. In northern
England, as a crude generalisation, the Pennine watershed represents the
interface of the 'Norwegian' and 'Danish' Viking regions. The last major Viking
battle took place at
Stamford Bridge near York in 1066, but the threat of further Scandinavian
invasion, with ambitions to conquer and rule, did not diminish until well after
the Norman Conquest of 1066 and, in fact, under Canute/Cnut
(c.994-1035) the realm had a Danish monarch and was part of an