Dublin’s Viking History
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a very murky ancient history. A while back a tidal basin was formed here by two converging rivers, the River Liffey and the now-underground River Poddle. This peaty basin was named “dubh linn” – which meant “black pool” – by the Celts who had lived here from about 500 BC.
This ancient basin was encountered by marauding Vikings from Scandinavia on their seasonal plundering voyages sometime during the beginning of the 9th century; the basin offered them protection from the northern sea storms and also gave them access to ship building materials in the shape of wood from Ireland’s dense forest.
Some “misunderstandings” of course happened between the enterprising Vikings and the original inhabitants of the region, the Irish Celts, however they did establish a “longphort” or raiding base sometime around 841. As time went by the area of Dubh linn evolved into a settlement called Dyflin which rose to become a rather important trading empire with countries as far afield as the Middle East and North Africa. Precious metals, fabrics, weaponry and horses were not the only things that were traded here, Dyflin also had the biggest slave market in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire.
The entire history of modern Dublin is still unclear, however the remains of a major Viking settlement were uncovered in 1961 during some construction work was being done and it is known that Christ Church cathedral was built on the site of an old Viking church.
Dublin features a major and rather excellent Viking themed exhibition called Dublinia which displays artifacts unearthed at Wood Quay, as well as a reconstruction of a Viking house, for those who are interested to dig in deeper into the Viking culture, the exhibition also offers an instruction in decoding the Viking runic alphabet. It’s also a rather interactive experience which allows its visitors to dress up in the style of a marauding Viking, horned helmet and all, a great idea for children.
In case that doesn’t satisfy your need for Viking culture, you can see more Wood Quay artifacts at the archeology and history branch of the National Museum of Ireland; this is where you can view swords, bows and jewelry made from all kinds of materials, from precious metals to amber, and many more others.
Those who want to find out more about the Viking heritage of the city can do so by visiting it during the middle of August when the Dublin Viking Festival unfolds, when an actual Viking craft village sprouts up and becomes the central attraction of the city.
, black pool
, capital of ireland
, christ church cathedral
, fall of the roman empire
, irish celts
, river liffey
, roman empire
, tidal basin
, viking church
, viking culture
, viking runic alphabet
, viking settlement