Attacks and internal strife – the Vikings in England

In AD 793 Danish Vikings attacked the monastery on Lindisfarne in England and for the next 300 years, Scandinavian Vikings were a great part of English history – as terrible plunderers, as merchants, as mercenaries, as conquerors, settlers and kings.

In the following we have assembled some questions relating to the situation in England. Most of the questions are also included in other task-sheets here on the website.

  • What did the Vikings want in England – at first and then later?
  • Where and what did they plunder?
  • What is danegeld?
  • Were the Vikings only plunderers in England?
  • How great was the influence achieved by the Vikings in England?
  • What is the Dane Law? Does it still "exist"?
  • What was the extent and nature of contact with the English kingdom in Scandinavia?
  • It is it possible to see influences from Denmark in England and vice versa?


The Vikings were of great importance for the development of towns in both England and Ireland. After the first wave of plundering expeditions the Vikings conquered land for themselves and settled. This Nordic colonisation prompted an upturn in commercial life and in urban culture.

  • Why did so many "Scandinavian" Viking towns appear in England?
  • Are there similarities and differences between the towns in England and Scandinavia?
  • Are there differences and similarities between the "Scandinavian" and English towns in England?
  • How can we recognise a Scandinavia Viking town in England today?
  • How is a place name created today?

Several English written sources mention the Vikings. The most well-known of these is probably The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is a collection of documents covering the history of the Anglo-Saxons in England up to AD 1154. But we also find references to the Vikings in letters, monastery annals and other ecclesiastical texts.

  • Which sources do we have available today which can tell us about the Vikings' presence in England?
  • Who wrote the written sources about the Vikings in England?
  • What significance has the author's background?
  • Do views of the Vikings change through time?