by the might of odin

This particular piece of written study aims to act as a research counterpart to the ongoing CDP project entitled “Hermitage & Monastery” in which we shall explore the idea of the design of an isloated utopian project within an offshore island landscape, whereupon you have a utopian piece of architecture within a utopian landscape. For my particular piece of design I intend to take inspiration from the culture and design of the Viking civilization which disintegrated with the fall of the Viking age due to a number of factors such as the introduction of Christianity within their lands, the assimilation of Viking settlements into the lands of which they were situated as well as the death of king Harald Hadrada. My piece of utopian design would try to produce a representation of a Norse settlement within the modern age. To aid with its design this piece of work will explore an element of the Viking Age which can be broken down to thee key points; How the Northmen invaded Brittannia. Where in Brittannia they settled, with focus upon Cheshire and the Wirral (Due to this being where the CDP is situated). How the British Settlements were designed and constructed. Life as a Norseman allowed for a number of ways to make a living if you were willing to put in the work and dedication. Many people decided to work the land, whether this through farming and agriculture , by taming the seas and harvesting her produce, whilst others decided to venture into the forests that surrounded their homes and hunt the wild beasts that roamed within. Other people decided to work a trade and make money through the buying and selling of various wares. However it’s never the mundane tasks of life that causes authors to put pen to paper. The one way of making a living as a Norseman that gaves the bards something to sing about was the invasions, the fighting and the pillaging of foreign lands. From their neighbours within Scandinavia to lands throughout Europe that we know today as Britain, Spain and France to name but a few, to even farther afield such as Africa and the Americas. For near a millenia throughout the Iron Age till the end of the 8th century the Northmen would spend the winter’s preparing the fields for plantation, as soon as the beginnings of spring appeared they would plant their crops and send small raiding fleets to the east into the Baltic sea invading coastline villages of the Finnish and Slovakian Tribes. The image below shows a map of Europe in 814 which shows the landmass of the different Viking groups; The Northmen, The Danes as well as the Swedes & Goths. As well as the current state of affairs with the European landmasses. 814 a time of great sadness for the Frankish Empire due to the death of the Emperor Charlemagne. This balance of light raiding and farming was more than sufficent to sustain the Norse Empires during the Iron Age however, a number of conditions resulted in the birth of the Viking Age near the culmination of the 8th Century. There is much debate to this current day between scholars to what birthed the Viking Age however there appears to be a consensus of these five conditions causing the development; Demographics Economics Ideologies Politics Technolgy Near the end of the first millenia, Scandinavia along with the rest of Europe had a considerable population boom. As a result of this booming population the agriculture capacity of farmland within Scandinavia was no longer able to support the rising population. This in turn led to many Norsemen being left with neither land nor status to their name. To rectify this situation many of these men turned their hand to piracy in return for material wealth. As the population of the provinces continued to rise the Norsemen had to look further afield and away from the Baltic to raid and pillage. The lands to the east were in no better economic state than the the provinces themselves and as a result proved to be of little use in terms of raiding. With the population boom that was occuring not only were overseas raids becoming more prominent but there was also the expansion of their settlements within the mainland. “…some locations showing little change from the Roman Iron Age until economic crisis and plague in the fourteenth century…”[i] So even though there was an overall increase in the population of Scandinavia, there were still many settlements that weren’t impacted by this boom and as such had no reason to expand. However for many settlements there is evidence of deforestation expansion during what is now the Viking Age.  The second reason that scholars felt that the Scandinavian provinces developed out of the Iron Age and into the Viking Age was a result of the current economic situation. The 8th century was a prosperous era for western Europe and more so for the Islamic world and as a result this time is often cited as being “The Long Eighth Century”. The Islamic world was growing and with that the trade routes that the had grew as well. The wealth and riches that lined these trade routes were being pushed ever further north and westwards throughout Europe. Settlements such as the Anglo-Saxon -wich towns prospered from this developing trade. The Norsemen like many other Europeans were drawn to these wealthy settlements. These -wich towns, places of artisinal activity and trade tended to be on the coast of Britannia for ease of trade with mainland Europe, which also meant that they were prime raiding possibilities for the Norsemen. From there the allure of wealth, resulted in them following the trade route back through Western Europe and from there in time through the rest of Europe and parts of the Middle East. Evidence of this phenomena can be found from sources such as the “Cuerdale Horde” as well as the “Vale Of York Horde”.The Cuerdale hoard is one of the largest hoards of Viking silver that has been found. It was discovered in 1840 on the southern Bank of the River Ribble in an area named Cuerdale near to Preston. The discovery, pictured below, contained in excess of 8,600 items. it is the second largest collection of Viking silver to be found, second only to the “Spillings Hoard” found in Gotland, Sweden. This particular collection of silver was found to come have come from three seperate sources. The majority of the silver was sourced from the Viking kingdoms of Eastern England, whilst the other two portions of wealth are from Alfred’s Kingdom of Wessex and finally from coins of a foreign origin including; Byzantium, Islamic and Papal mintings to name but a few. Which goes to support the ideas of how the Norsemen appeared to have followed the Lucritive Islamic trade routes back to their source. A second piece of evidence that supports the idea of Norse expansion throughout Europe and the Middle East is the Vale Of York Hoard. Though consideraable smaller than the previously mentioned Cuerdale hoard. It was the largest Viking horad to be uncovered since 1840 and contained 617 silver coins as well as 65 other items. Some of which can be seen pictured below. The collection was discovered within the town of Harrogate within North Yorkshire. This hoard of wealth contained items from a diverse spread of origins such as; North Africa, Afghanistan and Russia to name but a few. This is once again “… illustrating the breadth of the Vikings’ travels and trade connections…” [ii] quoted from Gareth Williams who is a curator of early medieval coins within the British Museum and as such was one of the people who examined the newly discovered hoard. Many scholars and historians including Rudolf Simek and Bruno Dumezil believe that the Scandinavian Expansion was a result of social causeation. the Viking age was a highly militarised and brutal era of time for Scandinavia, with the prospect of return for these raiding parties being slim due to a number of conditions such as shipwrecks, disease and violent yet honourable death in battle. Yet with these risks and a high chance of death norse leaders were consistently able to recruit warriors and raiders to sail forth. It’s interesting to note that one of the raids that is said to be the start of the Viking era, the sacking of Lindesfarne, coincided with Charlemagne’s Saxon Wars. Also noted as being the Christian Wars against the Pagans. Simek and Dumezil theorise that the viking raids was a direct response to the spreading of Christianity through the Pagan population. Returning to what I previously stated of how the Norse leaders were consistently able to recruit. It may have been as result of defending their faith against the encroaching wave of Christianity. Some people may state that this is the reason that the first Norse raids within Brittannia where against monasteries and hermitages. However the popular concensus upon this is due to the fact that the monasteries where positioned in areas of seclusion upon the coast to allow for the privacy of the occupants they allowed for easy targets for the raiders. Not only was defending the faith a potential reason for the ability to consistently recruit but it is also important to look at the Norse faith and ideology. “We are left with a sobering conclusion, which is that the Vikings created one of the few known world mythologies to include the pre-ordained and permanent ruin of all creation and all the powers that shaped it, with no lasting afterlife for anyone at all. The cosmos began in the frozen emptiness of Ginnungagap, and will end in fire with the last battle. Everything will burn at the Ragnarok, whatever gods and humans may do. The outcome of our actions, our fate, is already decided and therefore does not matter. What is important is the manner of our conduct as we go to meet it. The psychological implications of this and other aspects of the Norse ‘religion’ bear thinking about.” [iii] The above quotation has been cited from James H Barrett, What Caused The Viking Age who in turn has cited Price withis quotation. From looking at this piece of writing you can understand how the Norsemen felt that the came from nothing and everything will end with the flames of Ragnarok. As a result of this destiny has already been decided and there is no way they can change what will occur. However what is of the utmost importance to a Norseman is how the they conduct themselves throughout life and as such meet their destiny. Therefore with Christianity encroaching upon their homeland, it would be nessecary for them to defend their faith in order for them to be in favor on the Gods when the pass on to Valhalla. With this mentality they would want to do whatever they can in their short span on this world for a chance to dine amongst the Gods. It would be more favourable for  Norseman meet his fate in battle, or crossing the seas exploring the unknown than to pass on from old age without accomplishing something of note. A fourth potential reason for the devlopment of the Viking Age and expansion could be a reason of politics, regarding politics there are to main factors that are involved. These are “Push & Pull”. Regarding the Pull factors that contributed to the Norse expansion, there is the suggestion that there were many weak political bodies throughout Britannia as well as Western Europe. This was likely to be as a result of in simplified terms to be because of religious sites as well as decentrilized politics. This would of resulted in easy raiding targets for the Northmen. the second factor being Push relates to a period just pror of the Viking Age in which there was a mass centrilization of power within Scandinavia in which the previous tribal rule of order was being replaced by a feudal democracy resulting in hundreds of tribe cheiftens being forced from their lands which were then integrated within the lands of Kings & Dynasties. These chieftens with no land to call their own sought refuge elsewhere taking their people with them and settling on coastal Britannia and Western Europe. The final component that many theorised resulted in the Norse expansion was due to their technology. The Vikings were at the forefront when it came to sailing technology and their developments of sails, tacking practices and the use of rotational 24hr sailing allowed for and ever increasing range in which the Norsemen could expand; from their neighbours within the Baltic Sea, to Western Europe and then further afield to places such as the Americas, West Africa and the Middle East. The map shown on the following page shows the Norse expansion and settlement throughout Europe over the course of four centuries. With the aid of this map it is possible to visulalize how the ever developing naval technologies of the Norse enabled them to settle ever further away from their homelands. The maps information begins within the 8th century where you can see the Norsemen had colonised much of Scandinavia, lands which we know today as; Norway, Denmark & Sweden.  Over the course of the 9th century they were able to expand their lands into that of the Finnish Tribes to the north as well as parts of the Baltic & Slavic Tribes to the south east. Furthermore they had begun settling on the western shores of Iceland Finally they also managed to secure settlements within Britannia, which will be detailed later in this research. Throughout the 10th century the Norsemen made a huge developement in expanding their settlements through eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. They proceded to expand westwards settling on the eastern shores of Iceland and western shores of Greenland. It was also during this time that they managed to settle upon mainland Western Europe with the settlements at Normandy. Finally within the 11th century the Norsemen continued to push through britannia allowing for settlement within Wessex and also settlements within Siciliy. Though the Norsemen inavaded, raided and settled all across Europe it’s their relationship with Britannia that is the most relevant in regards to the ongoing CDP and a result there shall be investigation and research into four key moments of the Norse Invasion & Settlement of Britannia; Lindesfarne & Early Viking Raids Danelaw & The First Invasion The Second Invasion The Invasion of 1066

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