The Vikings - One of the Best-kept Secrets in English History?

In the teaching of English history, the Vikings have often been treated as a passing phenomenon, something which came and went, rather like the dinosaurs of the Jurassic Age. The Vikings left few tangible remains of their presence, unlike the Romans who built in stone and left behind roads, walls, bridges and villas for us to wonder at. Yet Scandinavian invaders and settlers had a far greater impact on the language, culture, political consciousness, sense of justice - and in many cases the physical characteristics - of the population of England, particularly in the northern and eastern counties.

These Northmen have not merely been forefathers of the people, but of the institutions and character of the nation, to an extent not sufficiently considered by our historians.

(S, Laing, Preface to his translation of Heimskringla 1844).

- 14. august 2004 -