Archaeological Evaluation of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking site at Torksey, Lincolnshire



The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that, in the winter of 872-3 AD, the Viking Great Army overwintered at Turcesige. While long assumed to have occurred in the vicinity of the present-day village of Torksey on the River Trent, c 14km NW of Lincoln, only now has the site of the Viking winter camp been precisely located. Metal detector users began to report their finds to the late Mark Blackburn, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in the 1980s. Developing this collaboration we have been able to identify the location and extent of the camp, which is spread over six fields, north of the modern village and east of the Trent. Torksey is also well known archaeologically for the development of Torksey ware, a pottery industry of the late 9th to 11th century, by which time Torksey was a significant town, with a mint, at least four churches and several cemeteries.

The aim of the Torksey evaluation was to complete a catalogue of the numismatic and metalwork evidence and to undertake an archaeological assessment using field-walking, metal-detector survey and geophysics, in order to understand the extent and development of the landscape and the Viking camp. Our project has revealed the large scale of the area occupied (some 55 hectares) and the huge amount of artefactual material that was lost or discarded over a single winter, providing evidence for a wide range of activities, including exchange, metal processing and craft working. By the cut-off date for the current investigation of August 2015 a total of 1572 finds had been catalogued. The project has also helped us understand the nature of the 9th-century landscape, which is now masked by several metres of windblown sand. Although this has limited the effectiveness of geophysical survey our test excavations have shown that, in places, the sand may also protect earlier levels. We have also investigated the Anglo-Saxon town that developed in the wake of the over-wintering, including its cemeteries, and the growth of the Torksey pottery industry.
Date made availableNov 2016
PublisherArchaeology Data Service
Date of data production1980 - 2015
Geographical coverageTorksey, Lincolnshire
Geospatial polygon53.317603 -0.740875 -0.752538 53.305794

Cite this