The Vikings were not always war-hungry peoples. Their period of - very successful - attacks on other countries all over Europe had begun as suddenly as it ended. How suddenly it must have come for the English as well when the raiding Vikings first landed on their coast, can be understood from stories such as this one: ' unfortunate reeve from Dorchester went to meet the company of three ships of Northmen, thinking them to be traders, not raiders, and suffered violent death for his innocent mistake.'Click for footnote

This first series of assaults, which should rather be considered the work of Norwegians than of Danes, consisted of raids which were 'serious, but relatively isolated and sporadic'.Click on footnote These bands came for plunder - and found profitable targets in the monasteries. Riches of all sorts could be found in places defended solely by the Christian faith. Such a defence did not cause great problems for a group of pagan warriors. 'Sacred vessels of gold and silver, jewelled shrines, costly robes and valuables of all kinds were carried off. English people were captured and made slaves.'Click on footnote The
Viking hoard

monasteries of Lindisfarne (793) and Jarrow (794) were the first to fall. Others, such as Wearmouth, Peterborough, Ely and Croyland followed. But the English were not alone in their danger. Iona and the northern Irish coast were attacked at the same time. Alcuin mentions similar problems in Francia. Raiding bands moved on, and different bands operated at the same time.

'However, in Ireland and Francia as well as England, Viking assaults were stepped up in the 830s, and now Danes as well as Norwegians seem to have been involved.'Click for footnote Sheppey was sacked in 835. In 836, 'the crews of thirty-five ships won a victory against King Egbert at Carthampton in Somerset, but in 838 "a great naval force" which had joined up with Cornishmen was defeated by Egbert at Hingston Down.'Click for footnote Southampton and Portland were attacked in 840, and London and Rochester followed in 842. Severe as these attacks may have been, they were still conducted with what Keynes and Lapidge call a 'hit-and-run' tactic. The situation grew much more serious when the single bands were succeeded by armies.

Start of the Tour
Viking Tour
Danish Armies
The Early Raids Danish Armies King Alfred and the Vikings I
King Alfred and the Vikings II English Re-Conquest King Æthelred
  A Danish king on the
throne of England