• Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

New Study Debunks the “Ruthless Vikings, Helpless Monks” Narrative


Feb 1, 2023

Medieval English monasteries didn’t simply passively collapse to the long-running Viking assaults on English shores that culminated within the victory of the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great . Lyminge, a monastery in Kent, was within the thick of Viking hostility from the late eighth century, however survived it for nearly a century via defensive ways devised not simply by the monks but additionally by secular leaders of Kent, a brand new examine has discovered.

The examine by College of Studying archaeologist Dr. Gabor Thomas was printed within the journal Archaeologia. Primarily based on detailed examination of archaeological proof and historic data, the Viking examine means that medieval monasteries and native communities that had been on the frontlines of repeated Viking assaults managed to tug via for for much longer than beforehand believed.

“The picture of ruthless Viking raiders slaughtering helpless monks and nuns is predicated on written data, however a re-examination of the proof reveals the monasteries had extra resilience than we’d anticipate,” Dr. Thomas mentioned in a College of Studying press release .

Over a decade of archaeological analysis within the village of Lyminge, first established within the fifth century, has gone into the examine. Situated in a area of Kent that endured the complete pressure of the Viking raids within the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Lyminge not solely lived to inform the story however even bounced again to an ideal extent.

The excavation at Lyminge in Kent revealed hereto details about monastic resilience within the face of raids by the Vikings. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Proof of Monastic Buoyancy When Confronted with Viking Raids

In 2007 to 2015 and 2019, archaeologists carried out excavations on the monastery that laid naked its important options. The monastery was constructed round a stone chapel. In the meantime a large expanse of wood and different buildings catering to completely different elements of monastic life surrounded the chapel, reported Ancient Pages .

The researchers additionally got here throughout animal bones that had been dumped as rubbish. The bones seemingly belonged to animals slaughtered for the abbey kitchen. Radiocarbon dating of those bones confirmed that the monastery remained occupied for nearly two centuries after its founding within the second half of the seventh century. This means that it withstood the Viking assaults for nearly a century.

Proof offered by written data from neighboring Canterbury Cathedral reveals {that a} raid in 804 AD displaced the monastic group of Lyminge. The monks sought and obtained sanctuary throughout the walled Canterbury city, a former Roman middle and the executive and ecclesiastical capital of Anglo-Saxon Kent.

Nonetheless, the excavations by Dr. Thomas’s crew show that the displacement was non permanent. The brothers not solely returned however continued to stay and add to the buildings at Lyminge for a number of a long time through the ninth century. Silver cash and different artifacts from the positioning present corroborative proof of this re-establishment of the monastic group.

 “This analysis paints a extra complicated image of the expertise of monasteries throughout these troubled occasions,” defined Dr. Thomas in Medievalists.net. “They had been extra resilient than the ‘sitting duck’ picture portrayed in standard accounts of Viking raiding based mostly on recorded historic occasions equivalent to the long-lasting Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne in AD 793.”

A silver coin discovered at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading)

A silver coin found at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Eventual Breaking Level Attributable to Lengthy-Time period Viking Strain

Nonetheless, there was a restrict to the hardiness of the monastic group and the sustained assaults lastly resulted within the monastery being disbanded. “The resilience of the monastery was subsequently stretched past breaking level,” defined Thomas. “By the tip of the ninth century, at a time when Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Nice was engaged in a widescale battle with invading Viking armies, the positioning of the monastery seems to have been fully deserted.”

When explaining why the monastic group reached its so-called “breaking level,” Thomas hypothesized that it was “most probably as a consequence of sustained long-term strain from Viking armies who’re identified to have been energetic in south-eastern Kent within the 880s and 890s.”

Based on the proof discovered throughout these excavations, routine and on a regular basis life returned to Lyminge solely within the tenth century. However, by this level it was “beneath the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury who had acquired the lands previously belonging to the monastery.”

The excavations which have provided evidence about the Vikings and their raids of Britain took place at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading)

The excavations which have offered proof in regards to the Vikings and their raids of Britain came about at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Monastic Lyminge Resilience Is the Norm, Not an Exception

The examine goes on to conclude that Lyminge’s expertise was not remoted. It ties in with proof from different monasteries in numerous elements of Britain, together with Kent. There was additionally a widespread mid-ninth-century watershed within the way of life of those monasteries with a dislocation or downturn in financial exercise being adopted by a cutting down of the extra conspicuous elements of consumption.

Based on Thomas, it’s troublesome to hyperlink a selected Viking raid to everlasting abandonment besides in uncommon instances just like the burning and destruction of monasteries in Whithorn and Portmahomack. Clearly, the monks of Lyminge didn’t award the Vikings a walkover. Whereas they could have quickly moved out to safer havens, they got here again to reclaim their abode time and again.

High picture: New examine claims medieval monasteries confirmed resilience within the face of the Vikings. Supply: Deivison / Adobe Inventory

By Sahir Pandey

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