Viking Ireland - The
Norse Invasions and Longforts
The name Longford is an Anglicization of the Irish
(meaning "ship") and
(meaning "port" or "dock"). This name was applied to many Irish settlements of Viking origin and eventually came to
mean fort or camp in the Irish language, and so
the modern Irish spelling, is the name of this town, which was one of the only Gaelic Irish market towns to arise
without first being founded by Vikings or Normans.
The Vikings pillaged
monasteries on Ireland's west coast in 795, and then spread out to cover the rest of the coastline. The north and
east of the island were most affected. During the first 40 years, the raids were conducted by small, mobile Viking
groups. By 830, the groups consisted of large fleets of Viking ships. From 840, the Vikings began establishing
permanent bases at the coasts. Dublin was the most significant settlement in the long term. The Irish became
accustomed to the Viking presence. In some cases, they became allies and married each
In 832, a Viking fleet of
about 120 invaded kingdoms on Ireland's northern and eastern coasts. Some believe that the increased number of
invaders coincided with Scandinavian leaders' desires to control the profitable raids on the western shores of
Ireland. During the mid-830s, raids began to push deeper into Ireland, as opposed to just touching the coasts.
Navigable waterways made this deeper penetration possible. After 840, the Vikings had several bases in strategic
locations dispersed throughout Ireland.
In 838, a small Viking fleet entered
the River Liffey in eastern Ireland. The Vikings set up a base, which the
Irish called a longphort. This longphort eventually became
Dublin. After this interaction, the Irish experienced Viking forces for about 40 years. The Vikings also
established longphorts in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford. The Vikings could sail through on the main
river and branch off into different areas of the country.
Norwegian Vikings and other Scandinavians conducted
extensive raids in Ireland. They founded Limerick in 812, then established Waterford in 853, founded the only Viking capital city in the world
outside the Nordic countries in Dublin, and founded trading ports in Cork in the 9th century.
Predominantly Norwegians, and to a smaller extent other Scandinavians, settled down and intermixed with the
Irish. Literature, crafts, and decorative styles in Ireland and Britain reflected West Norse culture. Vikings
traded at Irish markets in Dublin and solidified Dublin as an important city. Excavations found imported fabrics
from England, Byzantium, Persia, and central Asia. Dublin became so crowded by the 11th century that houses were
constructed outside the town walls.
One of the last major battles involving Vikings was
the Battle of Clontarf on 23 April 1014, in which Vikings fought both for the Irish
over-king Brian Boru's army and for the Viking-led army
opposing him. Irish and Viking literature depict the Battle of Clontarf as a gathering of this world and the
supernatural, including witches, goblins, and demons. A Viking poem portrays the environment as strongly pagan,
with chanting Valkyries deciding who would live and who would die.
Rollo was a Viking leader and invader who was created the first Duke of Normandy Rollo or
Gaange Rolf; (Norman: Rou; Old Norse: Hrólfr; French: Rollon; c. 846 – c. 930 AD) was a Viking who became the
first ruler of Normandy, a major region of France which includes the Channel Islands.
Rollo was initially the conquerer and Chief of all
Normandy and Islands, but by the so called treaty of St Clair-sur-Epte in 911, the Frankish king
was merely confirming ownership of the land around the mouth of the Seine between Rouen and Lisieux to
Rollow and his band of viking settlers in return for peace and an instant conversion to
Christianity. The leader of this band was called Hrolf Gangr, who went down in history under the more familiar
name of Rollo the Viking. As the land was already controlled by viking settlers and had been for at least 50
years Charles was not losing anything and was in fact gaining a "buffer state" across the mouth of the Seine,
he had in effect turned the "poachers into gamekeepers".