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Go Viking. Go Lindisfarne!

Being a viking is not about where you come from, but where you go. To go viking, wijking, wicking, wiching.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles produced the Lindisfarne Raid myth for its own purpose. Winters were considered safe periods from viking attacks. Danish and Norwegian vikings would not cross the North Sea mid-winter for obvious reasons. If there was a raid on Lindisfarne in January it could have happened from hibernating vikings at Berwick. That way they would have appeared to come from across the sea, not the North Sea. The raiders could even have been anglo-saxon pirates jollying in the absence of the real vikings. It was all about local anglo-saxon politics in other words. Some historians have tried to change the Chronicles’ date to a summer date to suit their love of warm weather and beliefs.

What happened with the raid story in literature is just that; literature.

Lindisfarne 1973
Lindisfarne 1973

The anglo-saxon chroniclers who condemned the attack on Lindisfarne as an attack of Norse cruelty may well have stood behind the literary attacks themselves representing the roman church, itself a colonising force at that time. This could also have been a tactical part of a roman church strategy to go beyond Hadrian’s Wall. «There are cruel marauders out there on the ocean, in the winter storms. You never know when they will strike from the wrath of the storms. Only we, the God people can protect you».

This theory is academically better than stating that the attack on Lindisfarne must have occured in summer. A modern adjustment of the written source to fit an inherited view of English innocence attacked by the wild sea rovers.

«The Northumbrian king Aelfwald had been killed by a band of conspirators led by the nobleman Sicga, who then killed himself in February in the same year of the Viking raid.» From Encyclopedia Britannica, this was a drama before the drama. There must be a connection, right? Does England's tradition for storytelling of dragons and unspeakable horror in others, come from an attack in winter, when they felt safe, or was Lindisfarne an invention of a storytelling tradition, or a political play? A fear for the ocean and its inhabitant creatures?

Lindisfarne 1973
I am sure uncle Snorri said, «It’s all literature!»

To Land or not to Land

To go Land Roving

In Norway we are very serious that we are the Vikings. But the saga-expression “To Go Viking” is not about where we come from, it is about where you go to, where you “Go Viking”.

A vik is a wich, and also a wick in a wich. Making a distinction between these spellings is not important for this purpose since a wich worth landing on is a wich with a wick. The main house was built on high ground. Sandwich was at some point in time a wick where the vikings landed their shallow ships at high tide. Ebb tide was plundering time. Flow was time to go.

Rivers had upflow landing sites.

What was important for vikings were good landing places like at Lindisfarne. Maybe they came from their winter hibernation at Berwick. They did not carry dinghies or floats to land, they used the tide to come and go in wicks/wiches. So why not in wicks? Who pronounced, and who told of the deeds, and who wrote «viks»? It is all about landing a suitable ship and leaving with the loot. It happened all around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, where the tidal waters favoured the technique of landing and leaving, leaving on high tide, at high time to leave. As in Nordwijk, Holland.

Its about what you do, not about who you are.

Being a viking is not about who you are, but what you do, and where you go to do your evil. Traders were not vikings. Their ships could carry a cargo, slaves or goods and they needed quays and harbours. Raiders used shallow windsurfing ships to go ashore. Traders may have kept both types of viking ships for different purposes, going up shallow rivers to a longphort maybe.

The Lindisfarne attack was not unexpected. It would have come from within the anglo-saxon world, maybe settlers from the English east coast. The monastery may have had a Celtic/gaelic background and was deemed as foreign by settled southerners in England, anglo-saxons as they were.