Where Do You Hide When the Long Ships Come?

More Morning Musings

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading the history of the British Isles, mainly the border country between Scotland and England — and it has been a long a bloody story. Invasions by the Roman army, the Irish kings, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, as well wars and raids between a long list of local tribes like the Picts and the Scotti. The original Celts slaughtered or driven into Wales, Ireland, and Brittany.

Over time it seems these mini-kingdoms came to some uneasy settlement, but then came the Vikings. The Danes, or Norsemen. Dozens of long ships would appear in the firth one morning…

Image by saramarses — Pixabay

I never knew the Vikings were so business-like in their enterprise. They knew where to find the richest plunder – the silver, gold, and jewels – so they hit the monasteries and churches. They knew the best time to raid was during some saint’s feast day, when crowds gathered to celebrate, bringing their offerings to the priests. Not only did the raiders grab the loot, but they captured slaves to be sold abroad. Apparently the slave trade was a hefty part of the Vikings’ business.

Considering how invaders captured people and sold them in Ireland, Europe, and even to the Mediterranean and Muslim lands, what a wild mixture the European gene pool must have become!

So how did the people of the British Isles cope with all of this? Letting my imagination run, I ask, “Where did they hide when the long ships appeared in the Solway Firth? Did they find caves in the hills? Did they hide themselves in a ditch or pit?

I can’t imagine how they coped emotionally, seeing their defenders –husbands and sons– slaughtered, their homes and churches plundered, their children and youths carried off to be sold as slaves? I must admit that whatever troubles this Corona virus invasion has brought to our world, I still live in a very safe place.

Danish invaders started moving inland, settling, and eventually controlled what are now the shires of Derby, Leichester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. One historian takes a generous view of the Danes’ arrival. While he mentions the continuing Viking raids along the coasts, he feels England not only gained a richer genetic heritage, but being under Danish rule helped make England a sea-faring nation. Perhaps, but I doubt folks living through those days saw things that way.

Do you think maybe two hundred years from now some historian will write about our era and say how the Corona virus was good for us, it brought about this and that? Being smack in the middle of the menace, though, we’re not seeing it in such an open-minded way. I’ll just be glad when this virus is history – and we can ditch these masks.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: DITCH

2 thoughts on “Where Do You Hide When the Long Ships Come?

  1. I enjoy reading Icelandic sagas. Some of those Vikings were invited by English kings to fight against — Vikings! — and Scots enemies and even to rule parts of their lands. Anyway, it’s fun to read the words of the people who were there. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. I can’t reply to this part of history but according to Alistair Moffat the Saxon mercenaries were invited in by a leader of one of the southern British tribes to help them fight off the invaders. Mainly either Jutes or Angles. “Letting the wolf in the door,” says Moffat.
      Once the Saxons came in and looked around, they decided to take this land for themselves and started slaughtering the resident Celts, driving many westward into Wales and Brittany. The Brits appealed to Rome, but got no help from that much-weakened power, so the Saxons took over.

      I was surprised to learn that Normandy was actually settled by Norsemen. (Ding ding!) And that William the Conqueror was the bastard son of a Viking chieftain. So the Norman conquerors were half French half Norse. 🙂
      R J White, in his ENGLAND: A History writes:
      “The intrepid Danes, or Norsemen, were not only found in England and Normandy; they penetrated into Spain, the Mediterranean and the Levant, and some of these amazing explorers even touched the coast of North America 500 years before Columbus.”

      Liked by 1 person

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