Trade routes in the British Isles

Jorvik's position meant that it was important for trade in England. It was also on the direct sea-land-sea route between Scandinavia and the important Viking town of Dublin, Ireland. Ships from Scandinavia could reach Jorvik by sailing up the Humber estuary then up the River Ouse to Jorvik. Goods would be bartered and exchanged at Jorvik, probably at a wharf on the riverside. Some of the goods which had been brought from abroad could be put on pack-horses, to be taken up the dales, across the Pennines, and to the west coast, where they could be loaded on ships again, bound for Dublin or other Vikings towns in Ireland such as Cork, Wexford, Waterford and Limerick. We know that Jorvik had many connections with Dublin during the Viking Age. Some of the Viking rulers of the Kingdom of York came from Dublin and there must have been many political, trade and family ties between the two places. Goods from Ireland, of course, would go the other way, also being traded at or passing through Jorvik. Because the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines were settled partly by Scandinavians, this meant that that goods could safely travel through 'friendly' territory for much of the way.

Jorvik's position also meant that it had good land links with other parts of Britain. At a time when there were no proper roads (except perhaps some badly-decayed stretches of old Roman roads), the only land travel was along 'green' tracks which had, as far as possible, to make use of the lower, gentler valleys. The Vale of York, where Jorvik is situated, is a broad, flat plain which leads from south to north, right through the heart of northern England. This gave Jorvik fairly easy land routes north to Scotland and south to other important Danelaw towns such as Nottingham and Derby, and other towns in the English Midlands.

The Vikings were, of course, great users of water transport and, where land routes were non-existent or difficult, they would make use of rivers. In England, an inland waterway route linked Jorvik with Lincoln, by the River Ouse, the Humber, the River Trent and the Fossdyke (which is an artificial waterway, or canal, thought to have been built by the Romans, though it may have been cut or improved in Anglo-Scandinavian times).

- 14. august 2004 -