The Vikings first established a base at the mouth of the River Liffey in 841. This was used as trading/pirate base and survived until 902 when the native Irish defeated and exiled the Vikings. Two Viking cemeteries uncovered in the last century are believed to have been connected with this settlement.

By 917 the Vikings had returned and re-established Dublin as an enclosed town with a network of streets, pathways and houses.

Excavations during the period 1961-1981 revealed much information about this town. House sites were identified, evidence of craftworkers was uncovered and details of dress, food and games and pastimes were found. Evidence was also uncovered of extensive trade links between Dublin and the rest of Europe.

Vikings in Dublin (or Dyflin as they called it!)

by Robert O’Connor


When the Vikings came to Dublin they introduced some words to the Irish language. These are some of the words still in use today:

brea = fine, good
ancaire = anchor
bad = boat
margad = market
pingin = penny
scilling = shilling


When the Vikings were in the Dublin area they left names that they had given to places, these placenames survive today. Howth from ‘hovda’ (head); Leixlip from salmon leap; Wicklow from words meaning Viking meadow; Lambay and Dalkey the “ei” sounds in these words means island; Skerries comes from “skjaere” which means rocky islets or reefs; College Green in the city centre used to be called Hoggen Green, this came from the word “haugr” meaning mound.

Places with Viking connections around Dublin

Fingal in the north of the city comes from the Irish word fionn gall meaning fair haired foreigners.
Baldoyle also to the north of the city comes from the Irish Baile Dubh Gall meaning the town of the dark haired foreigners (Danes?)
Oxmanstown on the northern banks of the Liffey, came from the word Ostmen
The cemetry in the area of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham is the largest Viking cemetry outside of Scandinavia.
The Vikings had a town where Wood Quay is now and any Viking artifacts have beend found there.

Personal Names

Sitric Silkenbeard was King of Dublin in 999 A.D  Olaf Cuaran was king in 945-980 A.D. The last Viking King of Dublin was Askulv Mac Torcaill

Viking Homes in Dublin

It seems form what was found on Wood Quay that the Vikings in Dublin used a special group of builders to build their houses. The first thing that they would need to do before they built a new house was to demolish the old one. There wasn’t much building space inside the town walls so space was important. A house usually lasted for fifteen years, after that the roof began to sag and leak, and the area around the house would begin to fill with rubbish.

The walls of the house were just over a metre high, but they did not support the weight of the roof as they were made of wattle and daub. The roof was supported by four thick posts inside the house. There were two doors, one at each end of the house. A typical house would have measured 6m by 5m. The roof was made of a lattice of wattles, on this lattice sods of earth were spread, and over this a layer of straw. Though the word window comes from a word meaning “wind eye”, Viking homes in Dublin had no windows. A smoke hole in the roof let out the smoke. The fire was built in a rectangular area in the middle of the house, the ground around the fire was covered in a layer of gravel. Other areas of the house along the walls were covered in mats. The beds, which could be used as benches during the daytime, were made of several layers brush, sods, hay/straw, and finally fleece.

Dublin as a Centre of Viking Trade

Dublin was a very important Viking trading town around 1000 A.D. Many ships would have been coming and going or tied up by the town walls.

There were ocean-going traders, coastal traders, and of course the famous longships or warboats. On these boats and on the quayside nearby would be barrels containing any different goods. Goods were also transported in sacks. These boats also carried animals and sometimes slaves. Slaves from Dublin often ended up in the Baltic or in North Africa. Trae consisted of woollens, hides, fleeces, furs, and personal items.

Ships left Dublin bould for the Isle of Man, Chester, Bristol, Scotland, the Hebrides, and the Mediterranean Sea. Ships coming to Dublin carried wine, ceramics from England, soapstone from Shetland, silks from Bagdad, broken galss from Germany to make bracelet stones, tin from Cornwall, silver form the Middle East, and ivory in the form of walrus tusks was imported form the Arctic (sometimes with the skull attached to show that they were genuine!) The crew would eat cured meat during the voyage, and a store of drinking water was kept on board.

Viking Fashion

We now know that the Vikings in Dublin did not parade around town with horned helets on their heads. The Vikings introduced the wearing of trousers to Ireland. When we look at the pictures of Roman soldiers carved on Irish stone crosses, they are shown wearing knee-length trousers. This would have shown the natives that they were foreigners. The Vikings in Dublin wore shirts, a belt with a scabbard and a knife, and leather shoes. en wore their hair loose and beards were common.

Women wore a long tunic, covered by a long apron which sometimes hung from shoulder straps. A rich lady wore a silk band in her hair and often tied their hair up in buns. Whereas the Irish wore sandal- type shoes, the Vikings wore a shoe with a sole and an uper part ade of leather.