Lindisfarne Raid: The First Chapter of Viking Glory Across Europe

Posted by Ms Elly on

Lindisfarne Raid: The First Chapter of Viking Glory Across Europe

It was the year of 793 that scholars regarded as the first chapter of Viking glory in Europe. It was the time when a small piece of fabric guided a group of brutal warriors arrive at the Holy Island. Lindisfarne was their destination. 

The first chapter of fear and glory

The record date was 8 June 793 that the Vikings carried out their raiding voyage toward the island of Lindisfarne, wealthy and unprotected. This was not the first raid of the Vikings. Rather, it was the first time that the Vikings instilled fear into the people of Northumbria and Europe generally. 

Probably, the reason why this raid shocked the English and Europeans was that the attack aimed at the holy monastery. Archaeologists found skeleton remains with deadly injuries on the island dating back to the Viking age. Some skulls were smashed and some were cut with sharp weapons. The cut might either deal a deadly blow on the spot or bring the victim to the verge of death. 

Viking raid on Lindisfarne Monastery

Depiction of Viking raid on Lindisfarne Holy Island

It was hard to tell why the Viking decided to go on raiding at this period of time. But scholars assumed that overpopulation, unfruitful crops, and shipbuilding advances motivated the Vikings to find new land. Their raids at this point were simple ones but they were savage enough to terrify the victims to death. Later on, raids for wealth became invasions and conquests for political power and land. 

Holy Island of Lindisfarne was wealthy and unprotected

Indeed, the monastery of Lindisfarne had been founded since the 7th century. By the time of the Viking attack, the site had become a center of Christianity in Northumbria kingdom.  

The fact why the Vikings chose Lindisfarne was either because of unexpected luck or good information and preparation. Not only was the monastery a place full of precious religious treasures but it was also near the coast and completely undefended. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for the Vikings. 

Lindisfarne Raid by the Vikings

Lindisfarne was wealthy and unprotected. The position next to the coast also motivated the Vikings to loot this place (Cre: "Vikings" TV Series)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles described the Viking attack on the Holy Island as "lamentable havoc" on the land of their god. 

With the wealth and the open land expected on these new lands, the Vikings carried out many raids to enrich themselves with gold and silver. 

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