A History of Vikings In Wales

Often when we think of Vikings, we think of medieval Scandinavian-born warriors, made immediately recognisable by their horned helmets, long hair and beards, and for sailing in striking dragonhead ships. But just how accurate is this? Whilst this image of Vikings has more than likely become inflated by the stereotypes and cliches of popular culture, there are also lots of other common misconceptions surrounding the Viking world. The Viking presence in Wales, for example, is often overlooked given that the Vikings failed to colonise Wales to any significant extent.

However, with newly discovered archaeological evidence being uncovered through Wales, and rest of the UK, there is now more reason than ever to treat the Viking presence in Wales with renewed interest.

Why not join us on this journey back in time, as we take a look into the long lost history of Vikings in Wales? Keep reading to find out more…

The Vikings Raid North Wales

Barbaric, ruthless, wild and violent. The history of Viking raiders as they plundered the British Isles is not a pleasant one to read about. Wales was no exception to the brutality recorded in many historical accounts of the late 8th century, most of which record the series of terrifying attacks carried out by Vikings across the coastline of England, Ireland and France.

By the advent of the ninth century, the Vikings had set foot in Wales and made their mark for centuries to come. The first recorded raid in Wales occurred in 852, and concentrated attacks were supposedly carried out by Vikings across Gwynedd and Anglesey from 854 onwards. Anglesey very much became a site for which the frequent attacks occurred and was ravaged by the Vikings from the early 9th century through to the second half of the 10th century.

Nevertheless, historical accounts suggest that despite the sporadic movement and attacks of the Viking raiders, they struggled to get a foothold in the northern territories of Wales. They did not successfully conquer Wales and the lands did not fall into the hands of the Scandinavian intruders, but relics of that truly turbulent time can be found in the Nordic-rooted names of the places they left behind.

Discover more about North Wales and the Isle of Anglesey here…

Battle of Buttington

Struggling to match the powerful Viking threats, particularly from armies who had landed in Kent that year, and East Anglia and Northumbria before that, military reforms were put in place by the English King, Alfred the Great. After mounting pressure and defence was put on the Vikings by the English army, the warriors rampant ways were forced to retreat as they became pinned down. Seemingly quarantined for many weeks, the Vikings reached a point where they even began slaughtering their own horses for food. It wasn’t long before starvation and hunger eventually forced them out of their stronghold, onto the east bank of the River Severn, to try their chances with a desperate charge against their besiegers.

And so the Battle of Buttington commenced. It is said that sometime during 893, the starving Vikings poured out of their camp in what is today, Buttington in Welshpool, Powys, and attacked an army of Anglo-Saxons and Welshmen, only to be besieged from all sides of the camp. Whilst they put up a valiant effort in combat, the Battle of Buttington proved to be the Vikings last stand in Britain.

Want to explore the Buttington battlegrounds and more of the Powys landscape for yourself? Why not book a stay at the nearby Maesmawr Farm Resort in Caersws…

Clues To Viking Life in Wales

Ground-breaking discoveries of human remains and hoards of Viking treasure have been monumental in uncovering evidence of Viking-age settlement, here in Wales. Less than a decade ago, in 2015, hoards of Viking coins were discovered near Caernarfon, and back in 1998, human remains from Viking-age burials were found in shallow graves at Llanbedrgoch in Anglesey. By no coincidence, the skeletons date back to the second half of the 10th century, a time during which Vikings had great control over the Gwynedd territory, with many bases dotted all over Anglesey.

Considered one of the most intriguing and important archaeological sites from when the Vikings invaded Wales, Llanbedrgoch is a popular tourist destination for historians and those interested in Viking history.

Discover places to stay in North Wales and start planning your next Viking adventure in Wales today.