Viking is such a vivid word, steeped in imagery and blood. The Viking Age began and ended in England. Its first act in AD 789 was a murder on a beach in Dorset; its last, some two and a half centuries later, was the crowning of a Dane in London as king of a united England. In between, the Vikings waged war on four continents, they besieged London, Paris and Constantinople, founded Russia and the Duchy of Normandy and very nearly snuffed out Anglo-Saxon England. Yet these days they are seen more as traders and explorers than as warriors. This new history returns the Vikings to their former position as the scourge of Christendom.
Ian Stephenson is a lecturer in archaeology at the School of Continuing Education at the University of Reading. He has previously written two illustrated books on the history of the Vikings with Amberley. He lives in Reading.