The Sea Road: A Viking Voyage through Scotland


Initially they came as raiders and traders, but soon they built links with other civilizations and settled among them. They served as mercenaries at the court of Byzantium and discovered America five hundred years before Columbus. They established towns and a network of communications, exploited the riches of the East and explored the uncharted waters of the North Atlantic, colonizing uninhabited or sparsely populated lands on the margins of Europe. And early during this great outpouring of people from the Scandinavian homelands, the Vikings also came to England, Ireland and Scotland. The Sea Road takes the reader on a voyage through Viking Scotland. From Norway in the ninth century, the Vikings travelled to the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, and established the Orkney earldom as a powerful base from which they could make inroads into northern and north-east Scotland. Continuing the voyage around the north-west coast of Scotland, the next land-fall is the Western Isles, which the Vikings came to rule as surely as they did the north, and from where their influence was to penetrate into the westerns part of mainland Scotland. Finally, the ever pragmatic Vikings established a base in south-west Scotland and forged links with a mix of peoples in the Irish Sea area. Here the Isle of Man, a Viking kingdom, was pivotal in a cultural crossroads between Ireland, northern England and south-west Scotland. But it was in the north that their influence endured. The Viking Orkney earldom came to be an important player in the politics of the emerging nation of Scotland, and its influence was felt into medieval times and beyond. Even today, the traveler to Orkney and Shetland enters a Scandinavian Scotland. This book is part of a new series produced by Historic Scotland and Canongate which provides lively, accessible and up-to-date introductions to key themes and periods in Scottish history and prehistory.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Edinburgh
Publication year:
  • 1999


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