Monday, 22 August 2011

Vikings in Canterbury

I see from a BBC report that the city of Canterbury will be commemorating the Viking attacks of 1000 years ago, with services in the Cathedral (pictured), presumably to 'honour those that were killed trying to defend the city', as the city's head of culture has it.

No doubt the Vikings were 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', and committed all kinds of atrocities, although recent archaeological discoveries have shown that it didn't all go one way. Without wishing to defend any atrocities, I sometimes wish that, at this distance of 1000 years, we could be magnanimous enough to look at the evidence from both sides. Which is of course just my way of plugging the forthcoming editions, by myself and my esteemed colleague Matthew Townend, of the skaldic poems that record these events (both out next year in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages I). Skaldic poetry is much ignored, but it is just as contemporary, and just as biased, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

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