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New Study Debunks the “Ruthless Vikings, Helpless Monks” Narrative

Medieval English monasteries didn’t simply passively collapse to the long-running Viking assaults on English shores that culminated in the victory of the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great . Lyminge, a monastery in Kent, was in the thick of Viking hostility from the late eighth century, however survived it for nearly a century by means of defensive ways devised not simply by the monks but in addition by secular leaders of Kent, a brand new examine has discovered.

The examine by University of Reading archaeologist Dr. Gabor Thomas was printed in the journal Archaeologia. Based on detailed examination of archaeological proof and historic information, the Viking examine means that medieval monasteries and native communities that had been on the frontlines of repeated Viking assaults managed to tug by means of for for much longer than beforehand believed.

“The image of ruthless Viking raiders slaughtering helpless monks and nuns is based on written records, but a re-examination of the evidence shows the monasteries had more resilience than we might expect,” Dr. Thomas mentioned in a University of Reading press launch .

Over a decade of archaeological analysis in the village of Lyminge, first established in the fifth century, has gone into the examine. Located in a area of Kent that endured the full pressure of the Viking raids in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Lyminge not solely lived to inform the story however even bounced again to an important extent.

The excavation at Lyminge in Kent revealed hereto information about monastic resilience in the face of raids by the Vikings. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading)

The excavation at Lyminge in Kent revealed hereto details about monastic resilience in the face of raids by the Vikings. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Evidence of Monastic Buoyancy When Faced with Viking Raids

In 2007 to 2015 and 2019, archaeologists performed excavations at the monastery that laid naked its primary options. The monastery was constructed round a stone chapel. Meanwhile a large expanse of wood and different constructions catering to completely different points of monastic life surrounded the chapel, reported Ancient Pages .

The researchers additionally got here throughout animal bones that had been dumped as garbage. The bones doubtless belonged to animals slaughtered for the abbey kitchen. Radiocarbon courting of those bones confirmed that the monastery remained occupied for nearly two centuries after its founding in the second half of the seventh century. This signifies that it withstood the Viking assaults for nearly a century.

Evidence offered by written information from neighboring Canterbury Cathedral reveals {that a} raid in 804 AD displaced the monastic group of Lyminge. The monks sought and acquired sanctuary inside the walled Canterbury city, a former Roman heart and the administrative and ecclesiastical capital of Anglo-Saxon Kent.

However, the excavations by Dr. Thomas’s crew show that the displacement was non permanent. The brothers not solely returned however continued to reside and add to the constructions at Lyminge for a number of many years throughout the ninth century. Silver cash and different artifacts from the web site present corroborative proof of this re-establishment of the monastic group.

 “This research paints a more complex picture of the experience of monasteries during these troubled times,” defined Dr. Thomas in Medievalists.web. “They were more resilient than the ‘sitting duck’ image portrayed in popular accounts of Viking raiding based on recorded historical events such as the iconic Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne in AD 793.”

A silver coin discovered at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading)

A silver coin found at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Eventual Breaking Point Caused by Long-Term Viking Pressure

However, there was a restrict to the hardiness of the monastic group and the sustained assaults lastly resulted in the monastery being disbanded. “The resilience of the monastery was subsequently stretched beyond breaking point,” defined Thomas. “By the end of the 9th century, at a time when Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great was engaged in a widescale conflict with invading Viking armies, the site of the monastery appears to have been completely abandoned.”

When explaining why the monastic group reached its so-called “breaking point,” Thomas hypothesized that it was “most likely due to sustained long-term pressure from Viking armies who are known to have been active in south-eastern Kent in the 880s and 890s.”

According to the proof discovered throughout these excavations, routine and on a regular basis life returned to Lyminge solely in the tenth century. Nevertheless, by this level it was “under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury who had acquired the lands formerly belonging to the monastery.”

The excavations which have provided evidence about the Vikings and their raids of Britain took place at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading)

The excavations which have offered proof about the Vikings and their raids of Britain occurred at Lyminge in Kent. (Dr. Gabor Thomas / University of Reading )

Monastic Lyminge Resilience Is the Norm, Not an Exception

The examine goes on to conclude that Lyminge’s expertise was not remoted. It ties in with proof from different monasteries in numerous elements of Britain, together with Kent. There was additionally a widespread mid-ninth-century watershed in the way of life of those monasteries with a dislocation or downturn in financial exercise being adopted by a cutting down of the extra conspicuous points of consumption.

According to Thomas, it’s tough to hyperlink a particular Viking raid to everlasting abandonment besides in uncommon instances like the burning and destruction of monasteries in Whithorn and Portmahomack. Clearly, the monks of Lyminge didn’t award the Vikings a walkover. While they might have briefly moved out to safer havens, they got here again to reclaim their abode repeatedly.

Top picture: New examine claims medieval monasteries confirmed resilience in the face of the Vikings. Source: Deivison / Adobe Stock

By Sahir Pandey


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