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The Winter Camp of the Viking Great Army, AD 872-3, Torksey, Lincolnshire

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JournalThe Antiquaries Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 2 Nov 2016
Volume96
Pages (from-to)23-67
Early online date2/11/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a multidisciplinary project that has revealed the location, extent and character of the winter camp of the Viking Great Army at Torksey, Lincolnshire, of AD 872–3. The camp lay within a naturally defended area of higher ground, partially surrounded by marshes and bordered by the River Trent on its western side. It is considerably larger than the Viking camp of 873–4 previously excavated at Repton, Derbyshire, and lacks the earthwork defences identified there. Several thousand individuals overwintered in the camp, including warriors, craftworkers and merchants. An exceptionally large and rich metalwork assemblage was deposited during the Great Army’s overwintering, and metal processing and trading was undertaken. There is no evidence for a pre-existing Anglo-Saxon trading site here; the site appears to have been chosen for its strategic location and its access to resources. In the wake of the overwintering, Torksey developed as an important Anglo-Saxon borough with a major wheel-thrown pottery industry and multiple churches and cemeteries. The Torksey evidence allows for a radical reappraisal of the character of Viking winter camps, and the legacy of the Viking Great Army for Anglo-Saxon England.

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© 2016, The Society of Antiquaries of London.

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