Before we begin I would like to correct a basic misconception that many folks have about The Vikings. There are those who think that all the Vikings did was make War and bring Strife wherever they trod. That is not even close to the truth of the matter. Scandinavian people were/are Warriors, Hunters, Sailors, Farmers, Shipbuilders, Artists, Metal-smiths, Merchants, and Leaders just to name a few of the jobs that the people of my blood excel at. A Norseman’s life was not always about gutting an enemy or sacking a monastery.
The Scandinavian people have made an indelible mark on world history, of that there is little doubt. From the Great Migration of the Scandinavia peoples into the heart of Old Europe, to the First Modern People that recognized the right of women to vote ( I think that is due to a holdover from our early respect for feminine power and belief in equality amongst individuals), with the notable exception of the Swedes - they were a bit late to the Female Suffrage table (Please see my “Women’s Suffrage - A Historical Timeline” article).
The ability of Scandinavians to adapt and integrate with different cultures is both our greatest strength and a potential downfall as a people. The Norse people’s assimilation of the Monotheistic Christianity almost killed our traditional beliefs and unique culture, fast-forward to present-day-now and the tolerant nature of modern Scandinavia is setting-up a shift in demographics, that for some Scandinavian Nations, is swinging in the direction of a people that would cut-off the heads of those who disagree with them.
I would be remiss if I neglected to mention in this pre-timeline text the fact that it was the rebellious English people (those of Norse blood and followed the traditional codes of Danelaw) that forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in A.D. 1215 (which was eventually ignored by the king using a Papal Decree that said “His Rule Was Heavenly Ordained and No Man or Document could strip of him his Power” ß or words to that effect). The Individual Rights we enjoy in America come not from “God”, not even close to that… they are the evolved ideas birthed in the traditions of Daneslaw and the Viking respect for Freedom and Honor.
Now, all that being said… there are a lot of raids, attacks, seizing, sacking, invading, ect. that is going to be described in the timeline, just a heads-up for the possibility of violence expressed in a historically accurate manner… Anyway, who says a Viking can’t have his/her fun?
Please note: any notations beginning and ending with double asterisks (**) are my personal commentary on an event, time, and/or person.
OK now for the Timeline:
8000-4000 B.C. -- Retreat of Glaciers from Greater Scandinavia, making way for Pre-Neolithic ancestors
of the Scandinavian people to begin utilizing the area
4000-2300 B.C. -- Neolithic Age:
The beginnings of Scandinavian agriculture and stock raising. Very early coastal boat
2300-1950 B.C -- Chalcolithic Age:
Arrival of Indo-European speakers into Southern Scandinavia.
Evolution of the Sami (Lapps) and Soumi (Finns).
2300-450 B.C. -- Bronze Age
1550-1100 B.C. -- Apex of the Northern Bronze Age in Scandinavia.
Expansion of Scandinavian settlements in Central Sweden and Western Norway.
Amber Route established between the Mediterranean and Baltic regions.
1100 B.C. -- The making of the Solar Chariot at Trundholm [see Fig. 1]
800-500 B.C. -- Emergence of Halstatt Celtic civilization in Central Europe
500-100 B.C. -- La Tene Celtic civilization - rise of Towns and Iron implement improvements
450 -50 B.C. -- Rise of trade relations between Scandinavia and Celtic Europe.
Formation of the Germanic languages (450 B.C.)
325-310 B.C. -- Visit to Thule (Norway) by Pytheas of Massilia
(First written account of the daily life of the Norse Peoples)
300-200 B.C. -- Earliest Viking ship excavated, known as the Hjortspring ship, unearthed on Als, an
island of Denmark. The craft is 40 foot long, and paddle powered, with no indication of
sail or rigging [see Fig. 2]
200-100 B.C. -- Creation (or some say - the rediscovery) of The Runes (Elder FUTHARK) [see Fig. 3]
125-120 B.C. -- Migration of the Cimbri and Teutones from Jutland into Central Europe
Decline of Celtic townships in Southern Germany (125 - 75 B.C.)
58-49 B.C. -- Julius Caesar conquers Gaul
50 - 01 B.C. -- Germanic Tribes settle Central Europe between the Rhine and the Vistula
27 B.C - -- Expansion of Trade between Scandinavia and Western Europe begins
A.D. 5 -- Tiberious’s naval expedition to Jutland
A.D. 9 -- Arminius destroy the Roman Legions in Teutoberg Forest - Romans withdraw to the
Rhine and Danube frontiers
50 - 200 -- Revival of the Amber route
A.D. 98 -- Cornelius Tacitus pens the Germania
100-150 -- Larger, better Longship construction begins to give Vikings some “legs”
150-200 -- Goths cross from Sweden to the Southern Baltic shores
245-280 -- Goths and East Germatic tribes raid the lower Danube frontier
260-285 -- Frankish and Saxon pirates raid the shores of Briton and Gaul
306-337 -- Reign of Constantine: Creation of the Christian monarchy
378 -- Battle of Adrianople: Goths defeat and slay Emperor Valens
378-476 -- Renewed Germanic migrations into the Roman Empire
395 -- Division of Eastern (Byzantine) and Western Roman Empires
395-476 -- Collapse of the Western Roman Empire
433-452 -- Reign of Attila the Hun
450-650 -- Migration/Invasion of Jutes, Angles, Saxons, and Frisians from Jutland and
northwestern Germany to England
523-528 -- Raid of Hygeia (ON: Hugelik), king of Gotar, on Frisia
530-550 -- Reign of Beowulf over Gotar
550 -575 -- Reign of Hrolf Kraki. Skjoldung king of Hleidr - Reign of Adils, Yngling king of Uppsala
600-800 -- Vendel period in Scandinavia - Helgo, leading port of Lake Malaren
625 -- Conversion of King Edwin of Bernicia (r. 616-633)
634-642 -- King Oswald unites Bercicia and Deria into the kingdom of Northumbria
650-800 -- Cultural flowering of Northern England
675 -- Foundation of Dorestad
675-700 -- Composition of Beowulf, and the rise of a Christian literature in Old English
675-840 -- Rise of Frisian trade
737-740 -- First phase of construction of the Danevirke (a fortification the stretched from the Eider
River to the town of Hedeby at the base of the Danish peninsula, basically sealing-off
Jutlandand from Central Europe [see Fig. 4]) and the Haeveg (Army Route or Army Way) corduroy
road begins. (The Haeveg was the only overland access to lower Scandinavia from
750-775 -- Battle of Bravellir; Harold the Wartooth, last of the Skjoldung kings was defeated
by Sigurd Hring , ruler of the Gautar.
750-790 -- Breakthroughs in Scandinavian shipbuilding; Full Keels, Sails, and Complicated Rigging
all brought together in the form of a 120 to 160 foot long craft.
**Crewed by up to 200 Viking Warriors, capable of cross ocean sailing, while
maintaining a shallow draft (for ease of littoral navigation and river running) and
beaching ability. These be the dreaded Dragonships of a 9th/10th century Christian
Monk’s and/or Nun’s nightmares. [see Fig. 5]
750-800 -- Swedish Vikings open Eastern routes along Volga River to Atil on the Caspian Sea
750-975 -- Oseberg/Borre decorative styles in Scandinavia.
751 -- Pepin the Short seizes the Frankish throne and founds the Carolingian dynasty.
757 -- Accession of King Offa of Mercia. (r. 757 - 796)
768 -- Accession of Charlemagne as king of the Franks. (r. 768 - 814)
772 -- Destruction of the Sacred Tree (Irmiusul) at Easeburg.
Charlemagne begins conquest of Saxony. (772 - 804)
**In my opinion, this is the spark that ignites the coming Viking Raiding activities
against Christian Monasteries and the Greater Carolingian Empire - what will come be
called the Viking Age.
What a Fucking Stupid-Ass, Holier than Thou Monotheistic, Aristocratic Tyrant, that
old Charlemagne was, eh? **
778 - 785 -- Rebellion of Saxons under Wunderkind.
** Wunderkind sought and received Danish assistance in his rebellion, Charlemagne’s
destruction of a sacred place (to Pagan/Heathen peoples) and willingness to massacre
captured Saxons that refused to convert to Christianity was “hand-writing on the wall” for
the Danes, or so I imagine. **
789 -- Danish Vikings raid Portland, Wessex.
793 -- A squadron of three Norwegian Dragonships raid and sack the monastery at Lindisfarne,
Most historians point to this event as the beginning of The Viking Age. **( I say it
was in 772, when Charlemagne started his personal Crusade to convert the Heathen
794 -- Norwegian Vikings sack the monastery of Jarro, Northumbria
795 -- Norwegian Vikings sack the monastery of Iona, Scottland
Norwegian Vikings sack the monastery of Rechru on the isle of Lambay
Viking bases at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, and Limerick established and fortified
795-840 -- Viking raids on the shores of Ireland and the Shannon Valley start
800 -- King Guthfrith (AKA Godfred; ON: Guthfrid) secures Jutland and Hedeby.
Second phase of construction of Danevirke begins
800 - 825 -- The Norse settle on the Shetlands, Orkney, and Hebrides
809 - 855 -- Vikings raids on the Eastern and Southern shores of England
810 -- Danish Vikings raid Frisia and attack Dorestad.
Charlemagne launches an abortive attack into Jutland
820 -- Danish Vikings raid Frisia, Northern France, and Aquitaine.
820 - 835 -- Norwegian Vikings raid the lower Loire, expelling the monks of Noirmountier
825 - 850 -- The Norse settle the Faeroes
830 -- Outbreak of civil war in the Carolingian Empire (830-843)
834 -- Ship burial of Queen Asa at Oseberg [see Fig. 6]
834 - 837 -- Four successive sacks by Danish Vikings ruin Dorestad
835 -- Viking base at Noirmountier fortified
835 - 855 -- Vikings attack the isle of Sheppey and disrupt trade on the Thames
838 - 839 -- Arival of Thorgils and Viking fleet from Norway, Thorgils organizes Viking Dublin
840 -- Thorgils captures Armagh and preforms the Rites of Thor.
Thorgils’s wife, Aud, acts as völva (a seer ) at the Monastery of Clonmacnoise.
Gaill Gaidaill, Irish Apostates, ally with the Vikings
841 -- Harald Klak receives the island of Walcheren
Danish Vikings sack Rouen and raid along the lower Seine Valley
842 -- Vikings sack Hamwic (Southampton) and Quentovic (Boulogne)
843 -- Treaty of Verdun; Partitioning of the Carolingian Empire
844 -- Vikings ravage the Garonne Valley, the shores of Asturias, and sack Seville, Spain.
845 -- Mission of al-Grazal from Muslim Cordoba to the Vikings of Dublin
Horic, “King of Denmark”, sacks Hamberg
Vikings under Ragnar Lodbrok defeat Charles the Bald and sack Paris
Charles the Bald pays Ragnar danegeld of 7000 Lbs. of silver to take his Vikings and
846 or 847 -- Defeat and death of Thorgils in Meath
848 - 850 -- Danish Vikings (Black Foreigners) challenge Norwegian Vikings for Ireland
850 -- Death of Harald Klak, Viking Lord of Frisia
Danish Vikings establish base on Sheppey, England
c.850 -900 -- Emergence of Skaldic poetry in Scandinavia
851 -- Battle of Carlingford Lough; Danish Vikings and their Irish allies defeat the Norwegian
Danes occupy Dublin
852 -- Olaf and the second great fleet arrive from Norway
852-871 -- Olaf struggles for control over Dublin with the Danish Vikings
855-857 -- Bjorn Ironside fortifies his Viking base on Oissel, at the mouth of the Seine
859 -- Danish sea-kings Hastin and Bjork Ironside raid Spain
860 -- Gardar Svavarrsson discovers Iceland
Hastein and Bjork Ironside enter the Mediterranean, raid the shores of Southern France,
and sack Luna (**either 860 or 861**)
Rurik (ON: Erik) asked to rule the Slavs from Holmgard (Novgorod)
Founding of Kiev as Rus market town
First Rus attack on Constantinople
861 -- Weland and his Danish Vikings ravage the Somme and Seine Valleys
863 -- Dorestad is abandoned
865 -- Great Army arrives in East Anglia under Halfdane and Ivar the Boneless
Voyage of Floki Vilgerdarson to Iceland
866 -- Great Army captures York
867 -- Battle of York: Vikings defeat and slay Northumbrian Kings Osbert and Aelli, also
the Danes conquer Southern North Umbria (Deira)
Collapse of First English Kingdom
868 -- Great Army ravages Northern Mercia from their base at Nottingham
King Burgred (r. 852-874) pays the Great Army danegeld to retire into East Anglia
869 -- Battle of Hoxne; Defeat and “martyrdom” of King Edmund (r. 855-869)
** He was hung from a tree and then shot with one hundred arrows by the Danes as a gift
to Odin - Funny shit right there! **
Great Army overruns East Anglia: Collapse of Second English Kingdom
869-873 -- Ivar the Boneless goes to Ireland
870 -- Halfdane and the Great Army seize Wallingford, the ravaging of Mercia and Wessex
Arrival of reinforcements from Scandinavia and Viking bases in the Carolingian Empire
Great Army seizes and fortifies Reading
870-890 -- Emigration of Norwegian Vikings to Iceland
871 -- Battle of Ashtown: Halfdane defeats King Aethelred I (r. 865-871)
Death of Aethelred I and the Accession of Alfred the Great (r. 871-899)
Battle of Wilton: A defeated King Alfred pays the Great Army danegeld to withdraw and
871-873 -- Ingolf Arnarson settles Iceland
872 -- Rebellion in York, Halfdane and the Great Army move north to quell the revolt
873 -- Great Army seizes Repton: Burgred abdicates and flees to Rome
Halfdane proclaims Ceowulf II (r. 874-879) king of Mercia
Vikings consolidate power and fortify the Five Boroughs in north Mercia (Nottingham,
Derby, Stamford, Lincoln, Leicester)
874 -- With reinforcement from Scandinavia, Guthrum pacifies East Anglia
874-975 -- Halfdane and Great Army secure Yorksire
c. 875 -- Battle of Hafsfjord: Harald Finehair defeats the jarls and minor kings of Vestlandet
Rise of the Jellinge decorative style (c. 875-975)
875 -- Halfdane partition the lands of Yorkshire amoung the veterans or the Great Army
Creation of the Viking Kindom of York
875-877 -- Gunthrum and the Great Army invade and ravage Wessex; Alfred the Great assumes a
defensive, positional war
876 -- Charles the Fat ascends to the throne of East Francia (Germany)
877 -- Death of Charles the Bald, king of West Francia (France); Accession of Louis II
Civil war breaks-out in the Frankish world
877-879 -- Partition of lands in East Anglia to Great Army Veterans
Second settlement of Dannish Vikings in England begins
878 -- Gunthrum and the Great Army capture Chippenham (Jan. 8)
Alfred and his thegns are driven into exile; Alfred rallies his forces
Battle of Eddinton: Alfred defeats Gunthrum
Treaty of Wedmore: Gunthrum is given East Anglia (and rules as King Athelstan of East
Anglia after he accepts Christianity and is baptized) and the Vikings withdraw north of
879 -- Danish Vikings sortie from England and capture the base at Ghent
879-881 -- Vikings raid and ravage the Lowlands, Rhineland and western Saxony
880 -- King Harald Fine hair (r. 880-930) unites Norway
Prince Oleg (r. 879-913) relocates Rus capital fron Holmgard to Kiev
881 -- Election of Charles the Fat as Holy Roman Emperor (r. 881-887)
King Louis III defeats Vikings at Sancourt
882 -- Vikings sack Trier and Cologne
Charles the Fat fails to contain the Danes in the Lowlands
885-886 -- Siegfried (ON: Sigurd) and hid Danish Vikings besiege Paris
886 -- Charles the Fat pays Siegfried 7,000 lbs of silver to raise the siege of Paris
Alfred takes and occupies London and Lower Thames, reforms his army, constructs
burghs and a naval fleet, begins minting improved coinage
887 -- Charles the Fat deposed by the Frankish nobility; King Arnulf the Bastard (r. 887-899)
elected king of East Francia (Germany)
888 -- King Eudes (ON: Odo) (r. 888-897) elected king of West Francia (France)
890 -- Battle of the Dyle: King Arnulf storms the Viking base camp, but by the time his army
breached the camp’s fortifications, the Vikings had retired to their Dragonships and were
890-1000 -- Trade and prosperity rise in the Danelaw
c.891 -- Vikings strike first silver pennies in East Anglia and York
891-894 -- Hayston (ON: Hadding) and his Viking attacks Wessex , inconclusive fighting; Vikings
retire to France or settle in England
895 -- Arrival of Hrolf (ON:Rollo), a Viking sea-king, to the lower Seine Valley
897 -- Accession of Charles the Simple (r. 897-922) as king of France
899 -- Accession of Edward the Elder (r. 899-924) as king of Wessex
c.900 -- Gokstad ship burial, Norway
End of Timeline… for now.
Source Material used for this timeline:
My notes from Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s (Tulane University) lecture series titled “The Vikings” and the companion Course Guidebook -The Teaching Company, 2005- Chantilly, VA
Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia by P. Pulsiano and K. Wolf -Garland Publishing, 1993- New York NY
The Viking World by J. Graham-Campbell -Ticknor & Fields, 1980- New Haven, CT