Course Code
HARC 0350
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

In AD 793, a band of pagan pirates attacked the monastery of Lindisfarne in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, sending shock waves through the Christian world. This attack would enter history as the first recorded Viking attack, but who were the Vikings? Were they the bloodthirsty pirates depicted in monastic chronicles and annals? Or is this a biased view, and is the image of daring explorers and farmers who can be credited with the colonisation of Iceland and the discovery of the Americas more accurate? This course will take a broad-brush overview from the North Atlantic to the trade routes through Russia towards Constantinople, and focus on the archaeology of trade, piracy, ship-building and colonisation. Although the emphasis of the course is archaeological, attention will also be given to the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, in particular the relationship between archaeological and historical material. Key sites to be discussed may include Jelling, Hedeby and Trelleborg, all Denmark; York, Repton, Ingleby and Torksey, all England; and, closer to home, the suspected Viking mass-grave underneath St John’s College in Oxford.  Associated places to visit include metalwork and a runestone at the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, and the early medieval gallery at the British Museum in London.