Start of the Vicious Viking Raids on Britain *AD 793

Sack of Lindisfarne *Beginning of the Viking Age

Vikings originated in Scandinavia and began to raid the neighboring European territories from the late 8th century onward. They were also known as the Norsemen, which roughly translates to the ‘Men from the North.’

Norsemen came to Great Britain and Ireland with the purpose to raid, trade, or settle. Vikings also launched raids on other coasts across Europe. It is still debatable among historians whether the term Vikings include settlers or only raiders from Norse lands.

Viking Raids on Monasteries

Norsemen sacked many Christian monasteries in the present-day UK in the last decade of the 8th century. It began with a raid on the monastery of Lindisfarne in the northeast of England in 793.

Lindisfarne on Holy Island *North East England

Lindisfarne on Holy Island *North East England

This raid sent shivers of fear and loathing toward Vikings in Europe, an impression that would later shape the way Europe perceived the Vikings.

Lindisfarne Monastry Ruins

Lindisfarne Monastry Ruins

Viking Raid on Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne was founded in 635 CE and was one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in the region. This place was famous due to the reported miracles of the bishop St. Cuthbert. The monastery was noted for its valuable relics and other riches made from gold and silver.

It was here that the Vikings launched their first notable raid in 793. During the raid, the Vikings took away the precious relics which bore immense religious significance for Christian Europe. They also killed many of the monks, drowned others, and took the rest as captives and slaves.

The attack sent shock waves across Europe as such desecration of a Christian monastery was unheard of.

Other Early Viking Raids

Even before the raid on Lindisfarne, Vikings had been attacking Anglo-Saxon England. Reports exist of a Viking attack in 787. At the time, Vikings arrived in three ships and landed in Wessex.

Anglo Saxons

Anglo Saxons

The Anglo-Saxon rulers of Wessex were entirely unprepared for the attack. The Viking raiders proceeded to kill local officials and then loot the local villages before making away with their plunder. These raids forced Anglo-Saxons of England to step up their coastal defenses.

Anglo Saxon Warfare

What was the Viking Age?

The Viking Age was a period in history from 793 to 1066 AD during which the Scandinavians built settlements throughout Europe. The term Viking Age does not apply only to the ascendancy of Vikings in their homeland of Scandinavia, but also to their activity at other places where they settled during this period.

Norse Danish Settlements in England *Danelaw

Norse Danish Settlements in England *Danelaw

During this age, Vikings ranged out of their Scandinavian homelands and explored Europe through trade, raids, conquests, and permanent settlements. To this end, they made use of their famous longships and their skill in navigating the rivers and seas.

Viking Raids Impact on European History

The effects of Vikings can be seen in European trade, art, culture, society, and language. The traces of Vikings’ culture are apparent in the dialectics of present-day Scotland and Northern England. Vikings discovered many trade routes in Europe. They also found and settled a number of islands, leaving a lasting impact on European History.

In England, Viking kings came to rule at a time. In France, Normandy was settled by descendants of Vikings the Normans.

Norman Flag

Viking Raids on Britain Fast Facts

  • Vikings’ raids on Britain began in Britain in the year 793.
  • The First Viking Raid on Britain was at Lindisfarne monastery in the North East of England.
  • Vikings left a trail of death and destruction in Viking raids on Britain and even attacked churches and monasteries.
  • There are reports of a Viking attack taking place in the year 787.
  • The First major Viking raid on Britain took place in the year 793.