Norse history

Shock and awe — what should we make of our Viking ancestors?

In June 793, a raiding force arrived by boat at the island monastery of Lindisfarne, on the Northumbrian coast. The attack that followed was shockingly brutal. The English cleric Alcuin wrote: ‘Never before has such terror appeared in Britain… Behold, the church of St Cuthbert spattered with the blood of the priests of God, despoiled of all its ornaments.’ It was the first recorded Viking raid on Britain. Many others were to follow, and the image of the axe-wielding raiding party remains the stereotypical view of the Viking horde. The question that this dark, brilliantly written and absorbing book asks is: who were these people and where did all that