Raffield, Benjamin Paul (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The study of Viking fortifications is a neglected subject which could reveal much to archaeologists about the Viking way of life. The popular representation of these Scandinavian seafarers is often as drunken, bloodthirsty heathens who rampaged across Britain leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Excavations at Coppergate, York and Dublin however, show that the Vikings developed craft and industry wherever they settled, bringing Britain back into trade routes lost since the collapse of the Roman Empire. These glimpses of domestic life show a very different picture of the Vikings to that portrayed in popular culture. Fortifications provide a compromise to these views, as they are relatively safe, militarised locations where an army in hostile territory can undertake both military and ‘domestic’ activities. This study investigates the historiography of the Vikings and suspected fortification sites in Britain, aiming to understand the processes behind which archaeological sites have been designated as ‘Viking’ in the past. The thesis will also consider the study of Viking fortifications in an international context and attempt to identify future avenues of research that might be taken in an effort to better understand this archaeologically elusive people.
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