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Viking Finds in Ireland
Archaeological finds in Ireland have revealed much about society in Ireland during the Viking age, from weapons, to crafts and clothing, and their locations also help us to pinpoint centres of activity at this time.
There have been many discoveries of hoards and burials in Ireland, of gold and silver coins and jewellery. As silver has been accepted as the ‘money’ used in Viking times these finds indicate places of trade and economic activity. All the gold hoards found have been found in in “watery places” such as crannógs, bogs and rivers. This suggests rituals of depositing valuables in these perhaps sacred places, in order to gain favour in the Otherworld. Other silver hoards found in Ireland have been in the midlands and as silver had economic value at the time, this may reflect the economic relationship between the Vikings of Dublin and the Southern Uí Néill rulers of the time.
This also reminds us that the crannógs where places of high status and still inhabited by clans at this time. There are ten recorded finds of hoards from crannogs, seven of which are in Co. Westmeath. One of the hoards found on a submerged crannog in Lough Ennell includes five unique and sizeable ingots of 3.1kg each and make this amongst the heaviest of Viking hoards discovered in the world. These finds also tell us much about the wealth of the Irish (possibly Uí Néill) kings at the time!
Viking Remains in Dublin- Dublin accounts for nearly half of the Viking burials with weapons identified in the British Isles!
The sheer quantity of dead young men reflects the huge number of Viking adventurers coming to Ireland at this time, something which is supported in the annals’ records of casualties in the numerous contemporary battles of the Viking Age. Excavations at Wood Quay in 1978 as well as later excavations in 1990 and 1993 have told us a lot about the Viking presence in Dublin and elsewhere in the 10th and 11th centuries.
1860 - at Bride Street along the River Poddle valley, the site of the longphort established in 841 was investigated. In a burial here, a sword, a spear-head and a shield boss found implied the remains of an important warrior. The sword had been bent before burial which may suggest its being put out of use with the death of its owner.
In the Suffolk Street/College Green area another Viking burial-ground was found. This was earliercalled Hoggen Green and comes from the Norse term ‘haugr’ meaning grave. More graves were found here in the 19th century containing more swords shields and spear fragments.
A much larger graveyard was discovered at Kilmainham and Islandbridge in the 19th century, revealing at least 35 bodies, mostly males of fighting age again buried with weapons and arms, but also items associated with trade such as weights and scales. This supports the theory that there were in fact two longphorts built in the Dublin area.
Other burial sites were discovered in the 19th century, including a female in the Phoenix Park and warrior graves in Kildare Street, Cork Street, Parnell Square, Mountjoy Square and Donnybrook.
2001 - The first Viking burial was uncovered at Ship Street Little. The skeleton of a young man was found here thought to be aged between 25 and 29 years. Another shallow grave also contained a patterned sword and rings and beads. He had died between 665-865 AD.
2003 - Four more burials at South Great Georges Street in Dublin revealed the remains of four young males aged between 17 and 29, who had been buried with knives, shield bosses, combs and decorated pins. The remains were situated around the edge of the original Dubh linn or ‘black pool’, from which the city got its name. three of the young men had apparently been buried also around the 7th century, whilst the other somewhere between 786 and 955. Two of the dead warriors were from Scandinavia and the other two from Norse colonies in Scotland.
2005 - West of here at Golden Lane O’Donovan found two more burials. One was of an elderly female, the other a younger male aged from 20-30 years old. The female’s grave contained decorated bone buckle and the male’s a spear-head, knife and a belt buckle. These date from 688-870, similar to the previous finds.
Other Viking Treasures and Graves Found in the Counties of Ireland
Thank you Stephanie! I have been meaning to write you a note and have been so crazy with work since we returned. The trip was unbelievable! We had a wonderful time and loved every minute of the trip.
Andrea Stevens, Plantation, Florida