Large Viking Age Military Camp Recently Discovered In England

According to a study carried by the University of York and the University of Sheffield, a huge military camp dating to the Viking Age was discovered on the course of River Trent, Lincolnshire, eastern England. The encampment was larger than most neighbouring urban settlements, providing thus shelter for thousands of Viking warriors, as reported by the new research.

A winter camp was established by the Great Heathen Army (an alliance of several Norse war bands which waged war in England during the early Middle Ages) in 872–873 at Torksey, Lincolnshire, in order to launch subsequent ambushes and sieges against the Anglo-Saxons. Prior to the late 9th century, the Norsemen’s incursions throughout both the Albion and Hibernia limited themselves only at quick hit-and-run raids targeting monasteries and poorly defended seaside rural settlements.

Modern re-enactment of a Viking Age camp in Stockholm, Sweden. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Nonetheless, as the 9th century progressed, the Norsemen returned for conquest and plunder more often in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England. Consequently, starting in 865, the Great Heathen Army (which was allegedly led by three sons of semi-legendary Norse chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok) marched throughout Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, and East Anglia in order to control and subdue the local authorities and impose their very own rulership.

Scholars and researchers previously knew about the existence of such a military settlement at Torksey, but until quite recently there were no clues with regard to important details such as demographics, size, or economy. Eventually, it was found out that the camp was constructed on a high ground which was partly surrounded by swamps and bordered to the west by the River Trent.

There must have dwelled thousands of Norsemen from all over early medieval Scandinavia throughout the 55 hectare military encampment at Torksey. Additionally, numerous archaeological finds suggest that the Norse stronghold from Torksey was not solely used as a seat for military campaigns. 300 coins unearthed on the site of the former Viking Age camp reveal consistent links with the sea trade routes controlled by the Norsemen along Northern and Western Europe.

Documentation sources and external links:

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