Excellent, right welcome back to the New Year. Happy new year everyone and welcome to yet another in our public engagement lecture series about Vikings. Today I'm really pleased to be able to introduce professor Judith Jesch, who may be, and probably, is the only professor of Viking Studies in the entire world. Although she is sometimes called a historian or an archaeologist, actually she's neither of those, but is, rather, an expert on Old Norse texts and has a particular interest in runic inscriptions and poetry; basically the texts of the Vikings that they themselves wrote. Her two most recent books are ‘Viking poetry of love and war’ a collection aimed at the general reader and ‘The Viking Diaspora’ a more academic study of the consequences of the Viking Age. So both well worth reading and I shall just not go on too long and hand you straight over to Judith. Thank you.
Lovely to see you all and on this cold and wet and windy and very Viking sort of day. You can only just hear me? Yes have you got your loop? It isn't helping you? Okay I'll do my best, it's true that 32 years ago when I got the job here at the interview they said Doctor Jesch we’ll give you the job but you'll have to learn to speak up and I've done my best over the years but sometimes I slip! Okay I want to today just throw out some ideas about some of these words on the slide so we generally tend to think about the Vikings as warriors, as invaders but what happened afterwards and that's where words like immigration and integration come into it. First let's look at the Viking phenomenon, it's often portrayed in this sort of way; this is just a random map I found somewhere, probably on the Internet and you have all these very sort of aggressive arrows coming out of Scandinavia in different directions so yellow Swedes, blue Danes, and red that particularly aggressive red Norwegians, and the arrows all go one way: they come out of Scandinavia and go to these different places. So here we are in England in the British Isles and people who live on islands are perhaps more worried about invasion than many other people, and you may have seen recently that there was this programme, again the Vikings there in the background, those guys in that boat don't look like they could do very much damage but the idea is that yes the Vikings were one of a whole series of invaders who've invaded this country. Actually we're all invaders because 18,000 years ago this country was under ice so everyone is an immigrant - that's something I tell my students all the time, just remember that. So this is the question: Vikings violent warriors like these two chaps here and then invade and then afterwards the process of immigration happens and then gradually integration. So somehow these Scandinavian warriors have come over here, people have integrated with them and gradually they've been assimilated into the population and there you have a nice typical Viking family; and this is what many scholars, the process that many scholars see is happening, so I'm not going to concentrate on these warrior guys and on questions of invasion but on what happened possibly after the so-called invasions. I'm also wanting to remind people about what happens when people move from one place to another and I'm sure out of all the people in this room if you were born in this country, how many of you have a parent a grandparent or a great grandparent was born in another country. Okay quite a few and some of them may have been born in another country where they spoke a different language or had a different religion or had a different legal system, and this is what immigrants bring with them. This is just some of the things that immigrants bring, and then what tends to happen and it's happened over and over and over again in the history of these islands is that gradually people lose their original language and start speaking the language of the place they've come to. They take up new names, they take up perhaps a new religion they adhere to a new legal system they bring their own food but sometimes some of these things stay on so we all eat curry and 100 years ago nobody knew what curry was; curry was brought here by immigrants. And the same processes happen at all periods, so what I want to find out is what happened in the Viking Age with these kinds of everyday things, things that affected people's lives. Now we don't have evidence for everything but these are the kinds of things that will tell us a little bit about what happened when people of Scandinavian origin came and settled down in this country. Can you still hear me okay? Most of the time - just checking, do wave if you can't. Okay, so we have place-names and personal names and many of you will have been here for Rebecca Gregory's lecture on place-names so you know a little bit about that already. We have language and inscriptions, we have female jewellery in particular which I think is especially interesting, we have sculpture mainly of a Christian nature. A lot of what we have in these categories is actually not so much Scandinavian it's not so much what people have brought with them but something that we can call Anglo-Scandinavian, jewellery or sculpture or even some linguistic things as you saw in some of the hybrid place-names that Rebecca Gregory talked about; we can call them Anglo-Scandinavian, they're the merging of the two cultures. So that's the kind of evidence we have. I'm not going to talk about all of these because I haven't really got time, I'm just going to pick out a few aspects of the evidence that shows us what happens to these Scandinavian immigrants in Britain but particularly here in the East Midlands and I've set myself a really difficult task because there's actually very little evidence compared to some other parts of the Viking world. As many of you know normally I work with things like Icelandic sagas and in Iceland it's very easy to study the impact of the Viking settlement because it was an empty country before the Vikings arrived and then so everything in Iceland owes its origins to the Viking Age. Here in England it was an established country, there were indigenous inhabitants and because of that assimilation process I mentioned earlier it's not always easy to find out what happened to the Scandinavian immigrants. Right so I am going to concentrate on Nottingham itself and the five boroughs which I'll come back to in a moment. Does everyone recognize this picture? It's in the Council House - oh good you've all been looking up when you're in the Council House. It's actually extremely difficult to photograph because very high up but if you can just about make out that there's a Viking ship there and a horned helmet Viking, and I find it very interesting the council house was built in 1929 and obviously when the City Council chose to have these oil paintings made for the cupola they chose four different events in the history of Nottingham; the Danes conquering Nottingham in the year 864 AD, William the Conqueror, Robin Hood and Charles I raising his standard, so three historical events and one legend shall we say; and I find it fascinating that nowadays as far as I can make out the only one of those four the council is still interested in is Robin Hood! So I'm on a mission if anyone has any contacts in the City Council or the County Council, forget all that Robin Hood stuff, let's have some real history here let's have Vikings instead. Anyway so I've laid my cards on the table there. Right so I just want to pick out a few milestones in the history of the East Midlands in the Viking Age and an important reference is this reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 868. The great heathen army it's called, this is an army of Vikings who travelled back and forth across the country and in that particular year they came in to Mercia, Mercia being one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the time, so what we would today call the East Midlands and the West Midlands together are basically what Mercia was; and they took up winter quarters here. The King of the Mercians, a certain Burgred, didn't feel able to cope with the situation, so he called in King Alfred and his brother Ethelred to help out, they brought an army and besieged the fortress but interestingly it says there occurred no serious battle there and the Mercians made peace with the enemy. So it seems to have been a bit of a damp squib okay all these ferocious scary Vikings came but nothing much happened and they decided to get along together, I think, is how I would read that. Then it's after that period that we assume that many of the settlements took place giving rise to the place-names that Rebecca was talking about before Christmas. So we assume that members of the army and then possibly also other people coming in their wake settled down in the various villages of the region. Now in the meantime there was following on from the successes of King Alfred the Wessex dynasty, so those southerners, trying to take over the whole of the country and Alfred's son Edward the Elder came to Nottingham in 918 captured the borough ordered it to be repaired and manned with both English and Danes, and then everyone in Mercia submitted to him and it's interesting that everyone in Mercia is conceived of as English people and Danish people, so there seems to be a situation where we have these two groups living together in Mercia and acting together really, acting together to man the garrison and acting together when they choose to submit to the King of Wessex. And if you've been to the Lace Market as I'm sure most of all have you'll have seen this rather old sign showing you the extent of what is here called the late Saxon borough but this is what we're talking about the Anglo-Saxon and Viking part of Nottingham which is kind of centred around that area around St. Mary's Church, and Nottingham only expanded in that direction after the Norman Conquest. So we don't know much about that period in Nottingham's history, there were some excavations which we’re still waiting for the publication of, 40 or 50 years down the line but they I think they are slowly happening and no doubt one day we'll find out more. And then another occasion on which Nottingham's mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle is in this entry for 942 which although it doesn't look like it here is actually a poem and if you go to the Danelaw Saga exhibition, I’m sure you've all been but if you haven't you must go now, and if you've been but haven't lifted up one of the telephones in there then do because you can hear this poem read in Old English and in modern English translation, and it's a poem about Edmund now the son of Edward the Elder recapturing I think or capturing the Five Boroughs and this is the first time that the Five Boroughs are mentioned so Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. We don't know how these Five Boroughs came about but they are five towns which were ruled by the Vikings, by the members of the heathen army and their successors, and what the poem suggests and there is some evidence for is that during the period before this there had been some incursions from the north, so the Vikings based in Yorkshire north of the Humber in the Viking Kingdom of York had tried to take over the area south of the Humber and what the poem does is present King Edmund as rescuing these poor little Danish inhabitants; note the Danes were previously subjected by force under the Norsemen, so it seems to be making a distinction between these nice Danes of the Midlands and those nasty Norwegian Vikings north of the Humber and they're also described as heathens so they held those nice Danes in the bonds of captivity. So as I say this is our first reference to the Five Boroughs. This seems to be an important confederation of towns, four of which later became county towns and indeed it's probably at this time that the counties as we know them evolved and this map shows you the area we're talking about, we can call it the East Midlands and you can see as well as Nottingham, a couple of other important places on this map - Repton here and Torksey there which are also important sites where the great heathen army camped and again you can read about those, see about those in the Danelaw Saga exhibition. So Nottingham was very much, it's on the Trent as are both of those, very much a part of what's going on in the region at the time, and you can see according to this map anyway I don't think this is entirely correct but anyway in the Kingdom of York whoever made this map decided that there were Norse settlements i.e. Norwegian in the West and Danish in the east. I think it was a bit more complicated than that, and indeed there's some evidence we'll see of possibly Norwegian settlements further south. So that's the region we're talking about at this period and it seems to fit in with this map I'm going to keep showing you this map because this is how most people imagined the Viking Age we've had these nice little Danes come and settle here we've had those nasty heathen Norwegians coming with their red arrows and making trouble for everybody but then somehow it all gets sorted by that wise and wonderful English King and that's the end of it! I would like to suggest that the situation is little bit more complicated than that and that the settlers in the East Midlands weren't just nice well-behaved Danes who did everything the King told them to do but actually still had their contacts with their cousins throughout the Viking world, and what I call the Viking world is this just everything really everywhere where these arrows go through, the places that people from Scandinavia have been to. So all the way to Iceland and indeed further away to North America, all around Britain and Ireland but also a little bit on the European continent and then East to Russia - I'm going to ignore the eastern connections for today because they're not terribly relevant for what I'm talking about, but it's always important to remember that the Viking Age also saw a great expansion into what is now Russia. So I'm going to look at two kinds of connections that the Viking settlers of the East Midlands had. One is first of all in the period immediately after the settlements to what extent they had connections with the rest of this Viking world, and then I'm also going to look in a slightly longer historical period is what happened after that, were they still in touch with either the rest of the Viking world or the homelands that they came from. Did they still feel Scandinavian? In the 10th century that's only less than a hundred years after they first arrived, one can imagine that the immigrants still might have kept their language, their naming customs their dress, possibly maybe not their food it's more difficult, possibly their burial customs and then how long does it take for an immigrant to lose all of those? What is the process by which you lose it? Is it because you marry a local for example, or is it because your children just don't, oh we don't want to speak that old language of Grandma anymore, it's something you still see nowadays. So first of all I'm just going to look at what happened in the first period and I'm only going to give some, a few, examples, I can't cover everything. So first of all I'm going to look at 10th-century connections between the East Midlands and the rest of the Viking world and then I'm going to look at some continuing connections after the 10th century. Just two little examples - these are both recent metal detectorists finds there are quite a few of these about and they're generally called Norse bells. You can see they're very small they're made of copper alloy, we don't really know what they are except that they seem to be bells most of them have lost their suspension loops and their clappers, but I think they're terribly interesting and here I'm relying on a recent article by Schoenfelder and Richards on these but these finds are actually more recent than that article so we may still change our picture of what these actually mean. They seem to be from the 10th century as far as we can tell, now obviously metal detectorists’ finds are often un-dateable but some have been found in archaeological contexts so it is possible to assign a date to them. Their function is completely uncertain although Schoenfelder and Richards make a suggestion which is fascinating but unprovable I think, that they were worn by high-status women for the purposes of ostentation. So rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes I think is what they're imagining here. Why would you want to go around jingling all the time I don't know but that's their suggestion. I don't know whether that's true or not, but if it is again it brings up the whole question of the role of women in this process of immigration and integration which is I think a very important one. What I think is interesting about them is their distribution and it's always distribution that's relevant, there’s absolutely nothing Scandinavian about these bells. They are just very plain copper alloy tiny little bells they are not found in Scandinavia so what is it that makes them Viking? It's their distribution that makes them Viking, they're found in all those areas of the Viking world that I showed you on that map: Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Ireland, even Iceland and England, so they're somehow they seem to be a new cultural phenomenon whatever their function was, that arises in this very mobile world of the Vikings where people are kind of whizzing around from one place to another. So people are in contact with other people of Viking origin whether it's in Iceland or the Isle of Man or the Hebrides, and that's, I think, the context, so this is a fashion among these people; it doesn't seem to have spread to the indigenous peoples of England for example or indeed Ireland or Scotland, it is the Scandinavians who are using these bells in whatever way they're using. So I think that just as a very small example shows that the people in the East Midlands are linked to all the others around the Viking world. Another phenomenon which has a similar although not identical distribution and which I think is very interesting is what we call hogbacks. Now this is quite a contentious subject quite a lot of.. they’re fascinating monuments and they're much debated. I want to start with looking at their distribution on these two maps you can see that in England there's one concentration in the northeast of England, one in the northwest then there's a kind of trickle down here and then according to Jim Lang at any rate there is a little concentration here down in the East Midlands, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. They also appear in Scotland the ones in the southeast of Scotland are perhaps closely related to the ones in the north of England and then there's a scatter in the far north of Scotland, Orkney and Hebrides. Right so what is a hogback? Well they come in many shapes and sizes there are quite a large number of them they vary enormously which gives the scholars plenty of fun in arguing over what is a hogback and what is not a hogback, and here are just some of the clearer examples. The top left is from Gosforth in Cumbria, that one is from Sockburn in County Durham, and these are from Brompton in North Yorkshire and those are from Lythe in North Yorkshire. They are probably grave monuments so put on, plonked on someone's grave, they're found associated with churches but we don't know whether the graves underneath them would have been Christian or not there's nothing obviously Christian about most of them. They're called hogbacks because many of them have this shape which is a bit like the back of a hog I suppose or sometimes they're called house-shaped monuments. They do seem to imitate the shape of Viking Age houses and many of them have these what seem to be tiles on their tops, so like the tiles on the roof of a house. And then many of them, some of them have interesting images like the Gosforth one which has two armies facing each other it's a kind of very lovely picture, and many of them have these bears on either end. The Brompton ones are particularly famous for having very clear muzzled bears kind of grasping at the end of the monument, but you can also see one here. So I've said, and once again like the Norse bells, what's interesting about these are not anything that they brought from Scandinavia with them, there's nothing particularly Scandinavian about them. In some cases they do have obviously Scandinavian ornament on them but there also is nothing typically English about them. They seem to be a monument that has arisen in, they probably originated in North Yorkshire, so arisen in England in this hybrid culture where of, in the meeting place of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Now slightly controversially the three or four southernmost hogbacks are found here in the East Midlands, and the one on the left in St. Luke's Church in Hickling the one on the right from in the very small church in Shelton where there is another one as well. If you remember from the distribution map they're quite far south compared to the others, and some would argue that these are not true hogbacks. It's true that they don't look very much like the ones I've just shown you from North Yorkshire, but nevertheless if you look carefully at the one from Hickling, there is a muzzled bear on the end with two paws grasping the end of the monument and this end of the monument is damaged but you can just about make the muzzle of the bear there. So the same idea of a monument also of roughly a similar shape a similar size with a bear at either end and I'm, it's not my argument it's an argument made in the 2016 volume of the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture by Paul Everson and David Stocker, they discuss all the ins and outs of the case and they propose that these should be regarded as hogbacks, are certainly related to hogbacks. So the idea of this kind of monument which is very much concentrated further north nevertheless people here in the East Midlands are in touch with other people who are interested in making monuments like this. The unusual thing about Hickling of course is it has a whacking great cross on it, and I think it's not the only hogback with Christian symbolism, there is, for example, in Gosforth one with a crucifixion on it but I think it's the only one with a cross on it certainly in that position. So this is kind of a special East Midlands version perhaps of the hogbacks showing the links between the East Midlands and the rest of the Viking world, but made doing their own thing, making hogbacks in their own style and there's one in Derby as well I don't have a photo of the whole thing it's only a fragment anyway but here are some nice close-ups. So sculpture in general is a very interesting form of evidence for the Viking settlers, they seem to have taken to it in a big way, and we have a huge explosion in the habit of monumental sculpture in the Viking period in England, and a lot of this sculpture again will have Scandinavian styles on it, Scandinavian type ornament, but is not obviously directly borrowed from Scandinavia; and here's another example from Bakewell up in the Peak District. It's just a small fragment; what is immediately noticeable to anyone who's used to looking at these things is that the style of ornament on it is something that we associate with the Irish Sea region, it's not something we associate with the East Midlands at all. This particular Viking Age art style is called the Borre style and this is a variant of that Borre style which is called the ring chain. I always think it looks like a whole long list, sequence of y-fronts actually, and it is very much found in northern England especially in the northwest and in the Irish Sea region and the Bakewell monument is obviously just a fragment, has been interpreted in this motif on this nice bookmark which you can get a copy of in the Danelaw Saga exhibition and you can also see the motif on the walls of that exhibition, and if you compare it to the Gosforth cross particularly this bit here, here the y-fronts are upside down or this cross shaft from the Isle of Man you can see very clearly the similarity so once again here in the East Midlands or at least in Derbyshire people are in touch with whatever the latest fashion in monuments is in further away in the Viking world, as particularly in the Irish Sea region. Right so just these examples that the Norse bells, the hogbacks and art styles show that people here in the East Midlands were in touch with the rest of the Viking world. What happens after the 10th century, after all in the 10th century we can still expect there to be connections did people still feel connected after the 10th century? It's very difficult question to answer and I know of at least three articles written within the last hundred years asking the question ‘how long did the Scandinavian language survive in England?’, and not one of those articles has managed to answer that question yet I think the reason they have haven’t answered the question is because it actually varies enormously in different parts of the country and it's, certainly if you study modern immigrants, it's very clear that depending on the circumstances people can lose their mother tongue very quickly if they move somewhere where there was a different language spoken, but it depends on various circumstances and so on. So language is one thing as these monuments show it seems that the Vikings converted to Christianity very quickly, they wouldn't have been Christian when they arrived but what the monument suggests is that they adopted Christianity even though something like the Gosforth Cross has scenes from Norse mythology on it, so they're not losing touch with their old culture but they're also accommodating to the new culture that they're living in. So how long does it take to stop feeling Scandinavian and to start feeling English for want of a better word? Well that's an unanswerable question but one way we can approach it is to look at what connections there still were beyond this period beyond the 10th century, when you might imagine that after maybe three generations they would have been fully assimilated. So I'm going to look at just four topics here I'm going to look at runes, a bit more sculpture because it's so much fun, St. Olaf, and that jewel of the East Midlands the town of Grimsby – apologies, is there anyone from Grimsby in the audience? Right, runes - the good news is that the place that claims to be the capital of Viking England, York, has no runic inscriptions whatsoever. The East Midlands or rather specifically Lincolnshire has three so, yay, runes briefly in case you don't know, runes are just an alphabet they're an alphabet that was used by various groups of people speaking various Germanic languages from at least the second century AD onwards. They show some similarities to the Roman alphabet but they are a separate alphabet and they can be used to write any language whatsoever, and they were most commonly used in Scandinavia. The earliest runic inscriptions found from the second century AD are from Scandinavia and in some parts of Scandinavia the alphabet was still being used in the 1500s. So they're a long-lasting form of writing. Now the Anglo-Saxons also had their own version of the runic alphabet it's very easy most of the time to distinguish between the two, and the Anglo-Saxons had kind of slowed down and more or less stopped writing in runes by approximately the 10th century, apart from various antiquarians who wrote about them as a kind of long-gone phenomenon. What happens in the Viking Age is that Scandinavians come in and bring their runic alphabet which they used to write their language and we find there are a grand total at the moment of 19 Scandinavian runic inscriptions in England. It's not very many, but I'm sure more will be found because they are being found, still, and they are extremely interesting because they show people using the language here. Now this you can see this in the exhibition over that way the ‘Viking rediscover the legend exhibition’ - this is a comb case found in Lincoln quite some time ago I also have one I made earlier here I'm sorry rather my wonderful friend Adam of Blueaxe Reproductions made it and just to show you because that's all that's left at the moment there's a case and with a pull-out comb and because the teeth are a bit fragile they make a case and then you can put this little thing in to stop it falling out when you carry it around with you. This is made of some kind of bone, probably large animal bone, probably a cow I don't really know, and here is as you can see an inscription in runes which has the, what I love about studying runic inscriptions is the banality of many of the texts, ‘Þorfastr made a good comb’, okay who was Þorfastr, where did he make this comb? I mean a comb is obviously a highly portable object and probably most of you have one on you, so if you suddenly went off to New Zealand tomorrow you’d take one with you so it's perfectly possible that this was not made in Lincoln it might have been made somewhere else and brought to Lincoln by a traveller and why did Þorfastr feel the need to write, to boast about his comb making abilities on this comb? Well it could have been just to remind the comb owner to go back there next time he needed another comb or he might have been just been practicing in runes or who knows what the explanation is, it's wonderful to speculate and to kind of think what stories lie behind these objects. So there you go, that's one of the three Lincolnshire runic inscriptions. This one I say could have been imported the other two I think are almost certainly made in Lincolnshire. The second one is also from Lincoln and can be seen in the ‘Danelaw Saga exhibition’. This is also a piece of bone but not one that was fashioned into any kind of object it's just probably the remainder of someone's roast beef dinner, again it's a cow bone and it's broken so we don't have the whole inscription and we don't really understand what it's meant to say. We can read the runes and it says ‘heitir stein’ and because the Viking Age runic alphabet only had 16 characters, sometimes the messages are a bit obscure. So it either means that someone is called a stone or someone is called Stein which means ‘stone’ but is also a man's name, or it means that someone heats the stone - you take your pick, I don't, I have absolutely no idea. Well what's interesting about it, it's a very kind of ephemeral use of runes, you're sitting around after dinner what do you do to amuse yourself? Well you sit around and carved messages on bones and send them around the room and we have plenty of examples of that from both the Viking Age and medieval period. It's also written in different runes from the comb case, if you look you can see at the end of the name of Þorfastr there's an S and a T. The S looks a bit like our S it's like a lightning kind of thing and there's a Twith two branches on either side in this the S is just that short line there and the T next to it only has one branch, so there are variations in the runic alphabet used by people and this might be because the rune carver came from a different part of Scandinavia or there might be a date thing there I think this is probably from the 11th century. So I think in the 11th century we still have people in Lincoln we can speak Scandinavian and write Scandinavian runes. The third Lincolnshire runic inscription was found in 2010 by a metal detectorist and has only just received in 2017 a preliminary write-up by Professor John Hines at Cardiff. I think there's a lot more still to be said about it which I hope to do myself soon, so but I think it's extremely mysterious and there are lots of interesting questions it raises which we don't know the answer to yet. First of all the object itself I'm sure some of you recognize what it is a spindle whorl, yes so it's a little thing used for spinning wool so an object normally associated with women. The original’s made of lead, by the way you can see a reproduction of it in the Danelaw Saga exhibition again made by our great friend Blueaxe Reproductions, and it is quite small as you can see from that photo on the left. The inscription has been interpreted as saying ‘Óðinn and Heimdallr and Þjálfa, they help you, Úlfljót, and then there's a bit that we don't understand. Úlfljót might be a woman's name, might be the name of the person who owned this. Tt seems to be an invocation to that great god of Norse mythology Odin and possibly also Heimdall, the watchman of the gods. I'm a little bit suspicious about it and there are some problems about the dating it seems at any rate to probably not be earlier than the 11th century, and could be possibly a little bit later, and that would be very surprising. Now why would someone in Christian Lincolnshire invoke the name of the god Odin in the 11th century? Well I have no idea but I think it raises important and interesting questions about what's actually going on. Saltfleetby is a small place near the coast and it made, I think as I say there's still lots more to be found out about this inscription in particular but there's the bit where it says Odin and again the rune forms differ slightly from those of the other two inscriptions as well, so again there are chronological and possibly geographical implications in these rune forms and who wrote them, where they came from and why they're writing these runes - another great mystery. This is the kind of thing that keeps me going this is my life's work working these things out. Right must get on! I mentioned Viking art styles earlier, another art style I want to mention is the so-called Urnes style, which is the last of the Viking, when we talk about Viking art styles there's a kind of sequence of them from Borre, Mammen, Jelling, Ringerike and Urnes, so Urnes is very much the end of the Viking Age. It's an art style that began in the 11th century and moves on into the 12th century, and here's a nice little object in the British Museum found in Lincolnshire. If you can see, it's a snake there's its head and it body goes around like that and it's biting itself and there's its tail; and so Urnes is characterized by these more or less figure 8 shapes and this alternation of narrow bands with broader bands of interlace; and we find, that we do find there are two extremely interesting examples of it in Nottinghamshire, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. First of all the Southwell lintel - now in the Cathedral, sorry the Minster, and you can see that Urnes style, this is St Michael in the middle and then he's fighting the dragon and you can see that Urnes style in that vaguely figure-of-eight shape and the broad and the narrow bands. It was long thought that this might be pre-Conquest, but now the latest opinion by art historians is this was probably made in fact I forget the details of how they did this, but they've narrowed it down to the period between 1110 and 1120 - so there you have it so in the early 12th century stonemasons in Nottinghamshire are using this Scandinavian art style in their work and similarly the tympanum at Hoveringham nearby and probably coming possibly coming from Southwell also originally, again same kind of dragon there's another one down here. Now the Urnes style, art styles can travel, it doesn't necessarily mean the people are directly in touch with the Scandinavian homelands where this art style was very common, and very highly developed but I think it's significant that if you have a place like Nottinghamshire where you have a history of Scandinavian occupation that they are more receptive to the latest fashions from Scandinavia and there's also a lot of very simple versions of the Urnes style like some of these recent metal detectorist finds. I have to admit I’m not an art historian so I think you need the, to have the trained eye really to see that these are in Urnes, but I'm told they're Urnes so I believe them! Right, St. Olaf King of Norway died in battle in the year 1030, the extraordinary thing about Olaf is that already by 20 years within his death he has a cult in England, he's the first royal saint of Scandinavia and he is popular throughout England. It's not just I think because of the Viking connection, but of course that 11th century period it's soon after the reign of Knut there is still a lot of contact between Scandinavia and England and we have, in Lincolnshire we have this small church near Louth dedicated to him and also the Abbey of Wellow near Grimsby, I'm getting to Grimsby, and these are later medieval seals but you can see on this one the left hand figure is a bishop, but the right hand figure has a crown and an axe and in medieval hagiography a guy with a crown and an axe is almost always St. Olaf; he's the warrior king if you like and indeed here's a very nice picture of him from Norway, showing him very clearly with the crown and the axe and in this case a little globe as well. So St. Olaf became very popular but again I think there is a connection, he was particularly popular in those parts of the country that had Scandinavian connections. Right two last bits. Ruarigh said I like poetry so we’ve gotta have some poetry here and I think one of the things you might notice in the Danelaw Saga exhibition is there are bits of poetry on the walls. People forget the Vikings really, really liked poetry, a former colleague of mine once wrote that the Vikings were ruffians but they were cultured ruffians, and I think this kind of lives on in the Icelandic sagas and in all the great literary achievements of the Scandinavian peoples. So first of all going to look at an Earl of Orkney – Rognvald was born in Norway but his mother was from Orkney. Orkney at this time was still a part of the Norwegian Empire and he eventually succeeded to the earldom of Orkney in spite of being Norwegian, but in his youth before he did that he came to Grimsby. He later on won fame through leading a crusade to the Holy Land in the 1150s, and then after that I'll look at a Middle English poem. So the young Earl Rognvald of Orkney visits Grimsby in the 1140s, you can hear this read on one of the telephones in the Danelaw Saga exhibition in Old Norse. You can, he didn't really like Grimsby! It was very, very muddy and actually I've looked into this at the time Grimsby was a bit of an island in a marsh and they as they came by boat he came he travelled with some merchants he was a young man on an internship I think is what was happening to him and they had to anchor out at sea and then wade through these marshes to do their trading in the town of Grimsby, and the poem is all about how happy he was to be sailing back to Bergen across the sea and get out of poor old muddy Grimsby. Okay so he didn't like Grimsby much and he didn't stay there for very long but I think it's interesting that there are these strong connections, the Norwegian merchants he was travelling with were trading regularly in Grimsby and Grimsby still had that connection. So my final example is a perhaps more flattering account of Grimsby in this middle English poem called ‘Havelok the Dane’ written in Lincolnshire just before 1300 probably in the late 13th century, it's a romance it's a story of poor boy makes good except poor boy isn't really poor boy, poor boy was actually originally a king's son anyway. So Havelok is a Danish prince, his father is killed by the usurper, imprisons Havelok, and his two little sisters, very sad story, the little sisters get killed but Havelok is rescued by a kindly peasant called Grim and they have to escape the tyranny of this usurper so Grim takes the whole family including Havelok over to England and founds the town of Grimsby which is named after him, and then Havelok through a whole series of adventures eventually realizes his true level in society, marries an English princess and becomes King of England; and it's, you can read this poem in many ways but I think one important thing it is doing in the late 13th century an audience in Lincolnshire still remembers that some of their origins are in Denmark, and the poem is about that integration of the two cultures. Havelok marries an English princess and everyone lives happily ever after, so English and Danish come together and this is what makes Lincolnshire special and makes the prince appropriate to become King of the whole of England, and again you can hear this read on the telephones in the Danelaw Saga exhibition this is the passage which shows Grim arriving and I'll just point out the ‘The stede of Grim the name laute / so that Grimesbi it calleth alle / that theroffe speken alle’, the place got its name from Grim so that everyone who speaks of it calls it Grimsby, and it's true we think we don't know that whether there was a real there must have been a real Grim we do know that that is how the name came about it is the -by the town or the estate or the farm of someone called Grim. So there's a little bit of kind of place-name expertise in this poem, and indeed there is a medieval seal and you can see it in the Danelaw Saga exhibition - the seal of the town of Grimsby has, that’s Grim in the middle there dressed more or less as a Viking warrior with his shield and sword, to the left of him is Havelok, to the right is Goldeboru the princess and all of them are named on the seal as well, so this is a modern wax copy but the original seal is from the Middle Ages so at the same time perhaps as the poem is being written people are remembering the origins of Grimsby as coming from this Danish fisherman really, called Grim. So that ends my little tour of various interesting bits of evidence which show the place of the East Midlands in the Viking world and just to come back to this map, I'd like to kind of throw this map out and think of things and I haven't yet figured out how to express what I think in another map, I will one day, but I'd like to suggest a new word that we use when thinking about the Viking Age. Viking Age isn't just about migration it isn't just about the physical movement of people from one place to another and where they take stuff with them and then just plonk it down and stay there it's not a one-directional thing, it's what we might call diaspora it's the consciousness of being connected to the people in traditions both of your homeland wherever you came from whether it was Denmark or Norway, but also with other people whether they're in Scotland or Iceland or the Isle of Man who are of the same origin as you, so there's the Viking Age was a very mobile time the people who settled in these different parts of the Viking world were in touch with because they were mobile and therefore I think the Viking Age qualifies as being called a diaspora. Thank you very much.
Invasion, Immigration, Integration – or Diaspora? New Ways of Looking at the Viking Phenomenon
Find out about some new ways of looking at the Viking phenomenon.
Professor Judith Jesch
Friday 5 January 2018
- Viking Talks