The Five Boroughs Network

We are developing a network for promoting the Viking Age history of the East Midlands in partnership with museums based in the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw. This network page will showcase events, link to resources that provide information about the Five Boroughs, and suggest places to visit and sights to see related to the Viking and Anglo-Scandinavian history of the East Midlands.

The Five Boroughs is a term we first encounter in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the entry for the year 942. It is used to describe the five main administrative centres of the Danelaw, which were Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. Four of them are now county towns, and it is arguable that this is because the Scandinavian settlers made these towns the centres of their own administration. With the Danes basing their administrations in these towns, trade was drawn to them and the towns became wealthy, thus increasing their importance. They remained administrative centres after the East Midlands was conquered by the Anglo-Saxon kings of Wessex, and so they retained their importance.

The Danelaw Saga: Bringing Vikings back to the East Midlands exhibition featured artefacts from four of these Five Boroughs. Only Stamford was not represented. East Midlands museums represented in the exhibition were:

We are also very grateful to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which arranged the loan of metal detecting finds to the exhibition. All of these artefacts combine to create a more complete picture of daily life in the Five Boroughs during the early medieval period. They show how the Great Heathen Army arrived, where it stayed, and how it settled in, shaped and integrated with the Anglo-Saxon culture of the area.

Our virtual museum has photographs related to the displays at these museums, including reproduction items. Blog posts on our site discuss aspects of the Scandinavian arrival and settlement, and the connections that the East Midlands had with the wider world.