Viking Camps and the Great Heathen Army
From AD 865 to 878 the Viking ‘Great Heathen Army’ wreaked havoc on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain, leading to political conquest and settlement across northern and eastern England. Whilst earlier Viking raids had largely been coastal hit-and-run affairs, this period saw a change in tactics, with Scandinavian forces overwintering at strategic locations across the country. Yet despite the pivotal role of the Great Army, little is known of it: documentary sources provide few insights, and until now archaeological evidence has largely remained elusive. However, in the early years of the 21st century, the locations of two winter camps were identified.
These sites at Torksey, Lincolnshire, and Aldwark, North Yorkshire, have yielded thousands of metal finds, showing the Army processing loot, trading, repairing equipment, and preparing for upcoming campaigns. The two camps have revolutionised the understanding of the Great Army and other Viking forces, and tell the story of the early years of the Scandinavian settlement of England.
Speaker: Mark Randerson
Mark Randerson is an archaeologist with over thirty years’ involvement in fieldwork, specialising in the early medieval period. Now based at the Historic Environment Records at North Yorkshire and Durham Councils, he has recently completed a project with the University of York, cataloguing and comparing the finds from the two camps.