Price, Neil S. (University College London)

The Viking Society for Northern Research, Vol. 22 (1989)


When a selection of the objects from the great Viking ship burial on the He de Groix, off the south coast of Brittany, was displayed at Caen in 1987, the accompanying text lamented the fact that the most interesting Scandinavian finds in France came from a region where the Vikings played only un role passager. That the Viking impact on Brittany should be considered fleeting is principally the result of a lack of detailed study coupled with a dearth of excavated remains.

The first problem encountered by the student is that of nomenclature (cf. Page 1984-5, 308-9). It seems reasonable to use the term ‘Vikings’ to refer to the large numbers of Scandinavians who descended on Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries in search of loot and plunder, sustaining themselves by means of a life of itinerant violence. It is to this category, which includes the Great Army, that the majority of Scandinavians operating in Brittany belong, hence the title of this paper. Wherever possible, national terms (Norwegians, Danes, etc.) will be employed to describe these people, and a clear distinction will be drawn between Viking raiders and those who chose to settle in the lands they had con- quered.

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