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VIKING NETWORK IRELAND

VIKING NEWS
& EVENTS

EVENTS

National Museum of Ireland events.
Kildare Street, Dublin.

Sunday 25 May 2008: 2pm – 5pm:

Viking Market with Gael agus Gall living history group. All ages.

Wednesday 28 May 2008: 2pm – 3pm:

Bealtine Festival. Viking Tour with education staff. Adults.

Sunday 8 June 2008:
3pm – 4pm:

My Museum Family Programme: Ragnar Olafson from Dublin, 1008 AD Share with Ragnar the joys and woes of a Viking in Dublin, 1008 AD. Age 7 -12.

Saturday 28 June 2008
12pm – 2pm:

Family Event: Next Stop Denmark! How did they get here? Learn about Viking ship-building techniques and use this to create your own Viking longboat. All ages.

NEWS

Viking ship found in River Boyne to be excavated
Viking Age burial at Golden Lane, Dublin

Replica Viking Ship Visits Dublin and Wexford

The Longphort Phenomenon
Remains of Viking Woman Found near Dublin
Viking Site may have been Town
Major Viking settlement found in Waterford
Replica of Dublin-built Viking Ship Launched
Viking artefacts found on Waterford road route
Remains of Viking warrior uncovered in Dublin
Self-Guided Tours of Medieval Dublin

Viking ship found in Boyne to be excavated - Mark Rodden
© 2007 The Irish Times - 27 January 2007


An ancient vessel discovered in the river Boyne late last year is to be excavated, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche announced yesterday.
The vessel is thought to date from the early medieval period and was discovered by chance during dredging operations by the Drogheda Port Company in November.
The wreck lies close to Drogheda port and is believed to be between nine and 16 metres in length. It is described as "clinker built", which is a shipbuilding technology dating from the Viking era but which was still in use centuries later.
"Potentially this is an enormously exciting discovery," Mr Roche said yesterday. "But clearly we have to wait and see what condition the vessel is in and have it dated."
"Carbon-dating analysis of some of the vessel's timbers has been arranged by my department, with the results expected in a number of weeks," he added.

The vessel is lying midstream of the Boyne, meaning it poses a potential shipping hazard and cannot be preserved where it is.
It is hoped that after excavation and further investigation the vessel may eventually be put on public display.
It is envisaged that the investigation and excavation operation will be completed by the end of March.

Mr Roche said yesterday that the National Monuments Service of his department would oversee the excavation in co-operation with conservation experts from the National Museum of Ireland, while the Drogheda Port Company would provide logistical support.
"Discoveries of this type highlight the rich and varied heritage we enjoy in Ireland," said Mr Roche.
"My department and the other authorities involved will make every effort to ensure the preservation of this potentially highly valuable find and its safeguarding for the people of Ireland."
The Minister added: "A find like this can tell us much about the technologies, trading patterns and daily lives of our ancestors and can open a window onto how life was in Ireland over a thousand years ago."



Viking Age burial at Golden Lane, Dublin

Autumn 2005 issue of Archaeology Ireland contains a short well-illustrated article by Edmond O'Donovan on the excavation of a Viking burial at Golden Lane, between the Black Pool (Dubh Linn) and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The burial was of a young male, buried in clothing rather than in a shroud. Belt buckles, an iron knife, an iron spearhead and lead weights were found with the burial. The burial dates from the ninth century and is part of a series found outside the medieval town wall.

ARTICLE ON AN HIBERNO-NORSE RINGED PIN FOUND IN CONNEMARA

Hiberno-Norse Ringed Pin from Omey Fechín, Connemara – Its historical and Cultural Setting. By Michael Gibbons and Myles Gibbons together with an analysis of the pin by Jim Higgins. (Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society Volume 57: 2005)

This kidney-ringed polyhedral headed pin was found in a coastal midden site on Omey Island. Ring headed pins originated in Ireland in the 4th and 5th century and the style was adapted by the Scandinavian population. A workshop for their manufacture was found during excavations at High Street, Dublin. These pins were then re-exported into Irish society. They worn as clothes fasteners. Omey type pins found in mid-10th to early 11th century levels in Dublin. Also have been found on native Irish secular sites such as Lagore and Knowth as well as on monastic sites. Extremely rare west of the Shannon. Only six found there, of those three, including this one, found on Omey Island.
Ecclesiastical remains on the island include early Christian monastic site, a buried medieval church, two early Christian burial sites and two midden sites. The monastery was associated with St. Fechín who has a chain of monasteries associated with him across Ireland.

The authors consider the origin of the Pin and discuss how it got to Omey. There are two possibilities: 1. Owned by people of Scandinavian origin who lived in the area or 2. Owned by a member of a native Irish group who brought it to Omey.

The authors use this to generally discuss the subject of Viking activity and settlement in the Connemara area. Connemara was raided during the early phase of Viking raids and was attacked by one of the last raids by Scandinavians in 1081. The Eyrephort Viking burial was discovered one mile away. It was suggested that there was a Viking base at Eyrephort but the author argues against this pointing out the lack of Viking placenames in the area.

The authors deals with arguments put forward in a recent article in favour of folklore and placename evidence for Viking activity in the area by Keely-Gibbons and Kelly.
(Keely-Gibbons, Erin and Kelly, Éamonn (2003), A Viking Farmstead in Connemara, Archaeology Ireland, Vol 17 No. 1 Issue 63.)

Those authors used a number of local Connemara placenames as evidence of Viking settlement. The author deals with each of these and casts doubt on each. For example Doonloughan was translated by them as “the Fort of the Lochlannaigh” or “the Fort of the Vikings”. The author points out that it is more likely that it means The Fort on the Small Lake”. The name Omey itself, with its characteristic –ey ending, has sometimes been considered of Norse origin. The authors point out that it is more likely to be derived from “Iomaidh Feichín” “The dwelling place of Feichín” who was credited with the foundation of the monastery on the island.

The authors cast doubt on local folklore evidence of Viking activity in the Connemara area. They point out that it was common in the 19th century to call all stone structures of uncertain date as Dane’s Forts. The Vikings also acquired a magical quality in Irish folklore and this might account for their presence in the oral record.

The authors consider that the Omey pins were on the island because of its status as a religious centre. They suggest that the three pins were bought elsewhere, probably in Leinster and reached the island because of its contacts with the monasteries of Leinster.


Replica Viking Ship Visits Dublin and Wexford

A full scale replica of the Gokstad Viking ship, the 'Gaia', sailed from Sandefjord harbour in Vestfold in Southern Norway, and has docked at Dublin on its way to Wexford Viking Festival. The Gaia is a faithful replica of the original ninth century ship which was used for a ship burial at Gokstad around 853ad. It remained sealed in its mound for over a thousand years until it was discovered and excavated in the 1880's.

This replica was built in 1990 and since its launch has sailed to many parts of the world. It is 24 metres long with a 120 square metre sail and carries a crew of fifteen, three of whom are professional seamen who are assisted byvolunteers The ship will retrace the route taken by the original Viking sailors in the ninth and tenth centuries.

The Gaia will be at Dublin's Custom House Quay until Saturday July 24 (pictured right). It will then sail for Wexford to take part in the Viking Festival there. It is due to arrive there on July 27 and depart on August 2.

More photos of the visit

Gaia website

The Longphort Phenomenon in Early Christian and Viking Ireland.

Irish archaeologist Michael Gibbons, in an article in History Ireland (Vol 12, No. 3, Autumn 2004), emphasises the importance of recent discoveries of Viking artefacts at Woodstown on the banks of the river Siur near Waterford. Importance of this site lies in the fact that there is so little archaeological evidence for these sites in Ireland and England. Settlements such as these are generally described as longphuirt or longports in the present literature. Gibbons questions this description and the underlying assumption that there is a specific longport type of site.

Three Irish sites have been claimed as supposed longphuirt – Dunrally, Co. Laois, Athlunkard, Co. Clare and Anagassan, Co. Louth. These three Irish sites are D-shaped on the edge of rivers but otherwise have little in common. None has any particular connection with the Vikings except a Scandinavian presence in the area, their shape and place-name evidence.

Viking settlements at Hedeby, Germany and Arhus, Denmark also feature a D-shaped enclosure but these are more mature sites than the Irish ones. Repton winter camp of AD 873-4 near Derby, England which has been excavated, also featured a D-shaped enclosure.

Gibbons discusses the meaning of Longphort in the Viking Age arguing that the word was adapted to circumstances by those who used it. Its precise meaning varied as indeed the Viking settlements did. It did not even necessarily have any Scandinavian connotations. It could also be used to describe an inland garrison without any river or sea connection. It was also used to describe an Irish military camp.

He points out that there is as yet no diagnostic site type for a Viking longphort and suggests that a reasonable definition might be “military site of some nature, probably Viking Age or later, duration of use uncertain”. He therefore argues that it is wise not to use the term as an archaeological term.

History Ireland can be found at www.historyireland.com, E-mail: info@historyireland.com

Replica of Dublin-built Viking Ship Launched

A magnificent replica of a Viking ship which was built in Dublin in the 9th century has just been launched in Denmark. The major work was carried out at the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde in Denmark. The majestic recreation, named Skuldelev 2, was launched by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark on September 4.

The original ship, the remains of which are on display in the museum, was built in Dublin in 1042-1043. The reconstruction has taken four years using, as far as possible, the methods and tools from the Viking age. The warship, which is 30 metres long and has a ship's company of 70 men, will sail to Dublin in 2007.

The launch at Roskilde Fjord was attended by the Republic's minister for culture, sport and tourism John O'Donoghue. Joining in the celebrations were musicians from Scandinavia, the Shetland Islands and the Republic, including violinist Dermot Diamond, Paul O'Shaughnessy, Martin McGinley and pipe player Liam O'Flynn.

Remains of Viking Woman Found near Dublin

Viking remains, believed to be that of a woman who was buried 1,100 years ago, have been discovered at an undisclosed site north of Dublin, Ireland's National Museum said. The find has been described as "exciting" and "significant" by the museum. Archaeological excavation of the remains also led to the discovery of a bronze oval brooch, an unusually long bone comb and other copper alloy ornaments. "The brooch is of Scandinavian manufacture and is dated to the early Viking Age -- the later ninth century," the museum said in a statement. "This is a very significant discovery as relatively few such brooches of this type have been uncovered in Ireland, and most importantly it is the first find of an oval brooch for a century."

The human remains have not yet been analysed closely but the type of brooch uncovered has been almost exclusively associated with female burials in the past. "This individual was buried according to pagan rites, which were brought with the Scandinavians when they came to Ireland," the statement added.

The first recorded Viking activity in Ireland is from 795, while the earliest sign of such settlement in Dublin comes in the ninth century. Maeve Sikora, of the museum's Irish Antiquities Division, said the discovery was made close to a medieval church north of Dublin that was being excavated under government licence prior to development of the site. Extensive road and building works throughout Ireland are leading to the discovery of many ancient artifacts.

National Museum director Dr Patrick Wallace said an oval brooch which was found with the woman`s body was of great historical importance. "It`s priceless academically, architecturally and scientifically. It`s the first time a brooch of this kind has been found on the island," he said. The brooch is believed to have come from Scandinavia. Mr Wallace said the presence of the brooch indicated the woman may have come from the upper echelon of Viking society. "Is she a pure Scandinavian woman - a Viking who came home? Or an Irish woman who mattered a lot to a wealthy Viking?"

Her skeleton was found almost completely intact but the bones from the knees down were missing due to previous pipe laying. The woman was believed to be between 25 and 35-years-old when she died around 900AD. At the time Viking chieftains had established control over Dublin, which had a population then of around 3,000 people. Mr Wallace said Irish monasteries around Dublin such as Swords and Clondalkin were being controlled by the Vikings.

"They were using them to do things such as make jewellery and creaming off the income," he said. He added that the Vikings would have spoken Old Norse but were becoming assimilated into the Christian religion. Osteo-archaeologists are to carry out further tests on the bones of the woman to establish illnesses, diet and if she had any children.

Rolly Read, the head of conservation at the National Museum said it would be possible to restore the oval brooch found on the woman`s body to its original glory. "The brooch was made from copper alloy and gilded with gold and silver. Although it looks quite robust, it`s like handling eggshells. When it was made, it was in your face and it was dazzling."

Viking Site may have been Town.

Aerial photographs of the Viking site, believed to be a longphort, being excavated near Waterford city indicate the possibility that the site is much larger than originally thought. Crop marks shown in the photographs suggest that a large viking town, predating Waterford and Dublin may be located in the area. The settlement seems to stretch 1km inland and 1.5km along the riverbank. Professor Donnchadh Ó Corráin of University College Cork is quoted as saying that the site is as big as Hedeby, in Northern Germany, if not bigger. He said crop marks in the aerial photographs indicated a pattern of streets and houses.

The Minister responsible who is from Waterford has yet to decide on the site's future. Indications suggest that only a limited excavation will be sanctioned in order to avoid a costly rerouting of the bypass.

Major Viking settlement found in Waterford

The Irish Times 4th May 2004.

The €300 million Waterford city bypass may have to be rerouted after the discovery of a major Viking settlement in excavations,

Professor Donnchadh Ó Corráin, professor of medieval studies at University College, Cork, said the site – home to the largest known Viking river camp, or longphort, in Ireland – was “of international importance”. Archaeologists have unearthed materials used in ship-building during the Viking raids of the mid-ninth century. The remains of a Viking warrior armed with a spear, a sword and a pin have also been recovered. The longphort, which dates from 850-870 AD, was believed to have been used as the command headquarters of a Danish chieftain called Rothlaibh or Rodulf, who sent raiding parties from Waterford up the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers. The fortress dates from the second wave of Viking invasions, more than 50 years after the first recorded Viking raid in Ireland. Among the 350 items recovered are weights, measures, locks, chains, nails and a decorative figurine.

Viking artefacts found on Waterford road route

Radio Telefís Eireann Online. 01 May 2004

A suspected Viking settlement has been discovered along the planned route of the €300m Waterford City By-Pass. The National Roads Authority has confirmed to RTÉ News that it is treating the site as one of 'special interest' and it could demand 'a significant amount' of additional expenditure.

The NRA says this site was located at Woodtown last August, and, following preliminary excavations, several artefacts were located which suggest it was a possible Viking settlement. It is believed the planned road would affect one third of the site.

An NRA spokesman told RTÉ News that the NRA had been adopting a responsible approach by consulting with the Department of the Environment, the National Museum and the Heritage Council. He added there had been no prior evidence of such a site, despite an in-depth planning process.

He said the NRA believes that the by-pass can and should go ahead because the routing cannot be changed without restarting the planning process from the beginning. It argues the site should either be excavated and then built on, or 'preserved' - in other words, built over without excavation in order to protect what is underneath.”

Self-Guided Tours of Medieval Dublin:

A new leaflet, Walks around Medieval Dublin, on self-guided tours of Medieval Dublin has just been published, April 2004. Three different tours are available and are available from tourist offices. The guide is jopintly produces by the Archaeological Section of Dublin city Council and Friends of Medieval Dublin. More details from archaeology@dublincity.ie

August 2003: Remains of Viking warrior uncovered in Dublin

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Viking warrior during excavations on a building site in the Irish capital, Dublin. A skeleton was found with an iron shield and what appeared to be a dagger in a shallow grave near the centre of Dublin, said archaeologist Linzi Simpson. The site is near the 9th-century settlement of Dubh Linn, a Gaelic phrase denoting "black pool", from which Dublin gets its name.

"It is a fantastic find. It is very, very exciting and very rare," Ms Simpson told Ireland's RTE state radio. It is only the second time the remains of a Viking warrior have been excavated in Dublin. Ms Simpson made a similar find last year. "That one was in a very bad condition. This one is much better preserved," she said. The burial site of the warrior, now nicknamed Eric by archaeologists, appears to have been disturbed at some stage in the past and his sword is missing.

Ms Simpson believes he may have been part of an early raiding party that arrived about 40 years before a Viking settlement was established in Dublin. The site is close to where there had been a monastery. "I have no doubt that this guy was a member of a raiding party probably doing something nasty to the monastery," she said.


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Updated January 2007 by the Viking Network

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