Man from Repton displayed at Derby Museum. Source: Wikipedia/Roger Wikipedia

The Viking Great Army and the Making of England 

The discovery of the Viking Winter Camp of the “mycel heathen here” in Torksey in 2013 was an eyeopener. For the first time, the immense size of the army and its historical impact was revealed archaeologically. Now, a new book offers the story of these decisive events in the history of England

The Viking Great Army and the Making of England 
By Hadley Dawn and Richards Julian
Thames and Hudson 2021



The Viking Great Army that swept through England between AD 865 and 878 altered the course of British history. Since the late 8th century, Viking raids on the British Isles had been a regular feature of life, but the winter of 865 saw a fundamental shift that would change the political, economic and social landscape forever. Instead of making quick smash-and-grab summer raids for silver and slaves, Vikings now remained in England for the winter and became immersed in its communities. Some settled permanently, acquiring land and forming a new hybrid Anglo-Scandinavian culture. The Viking army was here to stay. Its presence was a catalyst for new towns and new industries, while transformations in power politics would ultimately see the rise of King Alfred the Great and make Wessex the pre-eminent kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England.

Drawing on the most up-to-date discoveries and the latest scientific techniques, the authors recent research at the Viking Great Armys winter camp at Torksey in Lincolnshire has revolutionized what we know about its size, activities and social makeup, as has the wealth of newly recovered evidence from metal-detectorists. Unfolding like a great detective story, this account traces the movements of the Great Army across the country, piecing together a new picture of Viking Age England in unprecedented detail, from swords, coins, jewelry and the burials of great warriors to the everyday objects that ordinary farmers and craftsmen discarded. It is the definitive story of a vital period in British history.


Prologue: Heroes and Villains

Part I: The Vikings and their World:

1. Warrior-Chiefs and Kings;

2. The Raids Begin

Part II: The Viking Great Army:

3. A Pivotal Decade;

4. The Winter of AD 872–3 and the Camp at Torksey;

5. Beyond the Winter Camps;

6. The Army’s Dead;

7. Raiders to Settlers;

8. York and the Viking Camp at Aldwark

Part III: The Making of a Nation:

9. Wessex Fights Back and the Origins of England;

10 The First Industrial Revolution •

Epilogue: Immigrants and Artisans


Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards are both professors of archaeology at the University of York. They are co-directors of the Tents to Towns project, exploring the transition from Viking raiding to trading. Julian is author of Viking Age England, now in its third edition, and The Vikings: A Very Short Introduction. Dawn is author of The Vikings in England: Settlement, Society and Culture.


In the 1980s a charnel at Repton was excavated, revealing the remains of nearly 300 soldiers, unceremoniously dug into mass grave. Recently the facial likeness of one of these dead Vikings was “reconstructed. Source: Wiikipedia/Roger





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