Danes in Wessex: The Scandinavian Impact on Southern England, c. 800–c. 1100 [Paperback]

Ryan Lavelle (Editor); Simon Roffey (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781782979319 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English 288p, H246 x W189 (mm) b/w and colour illustrations

Danes in Wessex


There have been many studies of the Scandinavians in Britain, but this is the first collection of essays to be devoted solely to their engagement with Wessex. New work on the early Middle Ages, not least the excavations of mass graves associated with the Viking Age in Dorset and Oxford, drew attention to the gaps in our understanding of the wider impact of Scandinavians in areas of Britain not traditionally associated with them. Here, a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approach to the problems of their study is presented. While there may not have been the same degree of impact, discernable particularly in place-names and archaeology, as in those areas of Britain which had substantial influxes of Scandinavian settlers, Wessex was a major theatre of the Viking wars in the reigns of Alfred and Æthelred Unræd. Two major topics, the Viking wars and the Danish landowning elite, figure strongly in this collection but are shown not to be the sole reasons for the presence of Danes, or items associated with them, in Wessex. Multi-disciplinary approaches evoke Vikings and Danes not just through the written record, but through their impact on real and imaginary landscapes and via the objects they owned or produced. The papers raise wider questions too, such as when did aggressive Vikings morph into more acceptable Danes, and what issues of identity were there for natives and incomers in a province whose founders were believed to have also come from North Sea areas, if not from parts of Denmark itself? Readers can continue for themselves aspects of these broader debates that will be stimulated by this fascinating and significant series of studies by both established scholars and new researchers.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Authors
List of Abbreviations
Editorial Preface
Foreword, by Barbara Yorke

1. Introduction: Danes in Wessex
Ryan Lavelle and Simon Roffey

2. West Saxons and Danes: Negotiating Identities in the Early Middle Ages
Simon Roffey and Ryan Lavelle

3. The Place of Slaughter: Exploring the West Saxon Battlescape
Thomas J. T. Williams

4. A Review of Viking Attacks in Western England to the Early Tenth Century: Their Motives and Responses
Derek Gore

5. Landscapes of Violence in Early Medieval Wessex: Towards a Reassessment of Anglo-Saxon Strategic Landscapes
John Baker and Stuart Brookes

6. Scandinavian-style Metalwork from Southern England: New Light on the ‘First Viking Age’ in Wessex
Jane Kershaw

7. Death on the Dorset Ridgeway: the Discovery and Excavation of an Early Medieval Mass Burial
Angela Boyle

8. Law, Death and Peacemaking in the ‘Second Viking Age’: an Ealdorman, his King, and Some ‘Danes’ in Wessex
Ryan Lavelle

9. Thorkell the Tall and the Bubble Reputation: the Vicissitudes of Fame
Ann Williams

10. A Place in the Country: Orc of Abbotsbury and Tole of Tolpuddle, Dorset
Ann Williams

11. Danish Landowners in Wessex in 1066
C. P. Lewis

12. Danish Royal Burials in Winchester: Cnut and his Family
Martin Biddle and †Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle

13. Some Observations on Danes in Wessex Today
Lillian Céspedes González

Select Bibliography

Reviews & Quotes

"Overall, the book is well edited and constructed and colour is used judiciously to enhance several images… an excellently produced book that deserves to be read by all with an interest in either Viking or Anglo- Saxon studies."
Simon Draper
Landscape History (16/05/2017)

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