The first element of Kirk Ireton, in the Wirksworth Hundred of Derbyshire, is the genitive singular or plural of the Old Norse ethnonym Íri, ‘an Irishman; probably also a Norseman who had lived in Ireland’ combined with the Old English element tun ‘an enclosure; a farmstead; a village; an estate’. Old Norse kirkja ‘a church’ was affixed at a later date. Traditionally, the place-name has been interpreted as referring to a settlement of Irishmen; probably Norsemen who lived in Ireland. However, the exact implications of such a name are not yet fully understood and are the subject of ongoing work by Dr Jayne Carroll of the Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham.
Invade … immigrate … integrate … inspire. The exhibition ‘Danelaw Saga’ ran from 15th December 2017 to 8th April 2018 and told the tale of how the Vikings shaped the East Midlands. In the 860s the Great Heathen Army invaded the East Midlands, agreeing peace with the Anglo-Saxon King, Alfred the Great, in the 870s. The agreement established the Danelaw where Viking laws and government reigned, giving the Vikings half of England to rule. They settled in the five boroughs of the Danelaw (Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford) and integrated with the existing population. The legacy of these settlers can still be seen today in place-names like Gunthorpe, Nottinghamshire, named after Gunnhild, a woman with a Viking name. This film about the exhibition ‘Danelaw Saga’ tells a local story of Viking culture with artefacts, maps and medieval documents from Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham and from regional museums. The exhibition presented an opportunity to see extraordinary Viking works brought together and to learn about the places whose names evoke the Viking past. Visitors could map the routes of Viking expeditions, view coins brought from the Middle East to the East Midlands, and explore their heritage further through artefacts and jewellery worn by the Viking women that settled in the East Midlands. ‘Danelaw Saga’ tells the story of Viking heritage hidden in plain sight, from place names in use since they were given by the Vikings to modern literature inspired by the East Midlands’ own Viking past. ‘Danelaw Saga’ uncovers the legacy of the Vikings on our doorstep.