Viking Torksey Project

The Viking Winter Camp at Torksey

Torksey field walking banner

From AD 865 to 879 a Viking army wreaked havoc on Anglo-Saxon England. It led to political conquest, large-scale settlement, and the emergence of substantial Scandinavian cultural and linguistic influences in eastern and northern England, which also witnessed revolutionary changes in land ownership, society, and economy, including the growth of towns and industry. Three of the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms fell to the Scandinavian raiders. This was a critical period for English history, yet despite the pivotal role of the so-called Great Army (micel here) in these events, we know little of it; the available documentary sources provide few insights into its activities and intentions, and archaeological evidence has largely remained elusive - until now! Recent archaeological investigation at the site has revealed for the first time the precise location of the winter camp, and much about its form and position in the landscape, as well as the range of activities that took place there, including metalworking, the minting of coinage, trade, and burial. The impact of the Great Army's stay on the development of the town (borough) of Torksey has also been explored, with particular emphasis placed on the pottery industry that emerged in the immediate wake of the over-wintering. The project is making major new contributions to our understanding Anglo-Saxon England.

This project is a collaboration between the archaeology departments at the Universities of Sheffield and York, and also involves a range of external finds specialists. Sheffield staff who have been involved in the project are Prof. Dawn Hadley (co-director), Dr Gareth Perry (Torksey pottery industry. fieldwork), Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins (human remains), and Dr Diana Swales (fieldwork). We have enabled graduate student participation in this project. Lily Carhart (MA Medieval Archaeology 2013-14) undertook her MA dissertation on an iron hoard from Torksey and went on to win the Philip Rahtz Award for the best postgraduate dissertation from the Society for Medieval Archaeology (for 2014). Dr Samantha Stein undertook her doctoral research on the landscape of the winter camp (completed 2015; supervised by Prof. Dawn Hadley and Dr Gianna Ayala) and now works for Trent and Peak Archaeology as a geoarchaeologist, and has a post-doctoral research position in the University's Department of Geo​​graphy.

Funding for the Torksey project has been provided by the British Academy, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Robert Kiln Trust, the Quaternary Research Association, and the Medieval Settlement Research Group. The Torksey project is co-directed by Prof. Dawn Hadley (University of Sheffield) and Prof. Julian Richards (University of York)

contact Dawn Hadkey

Sam Stein - contact Dawn Hadley