The Vikings

Who Were the Vikings

In the mid-700s, the people of Scandinavia began to explore, raid, and invade countries around them. They travelled across Europe looking for land and riches. These__ ‘Northmen’__ became known as the Vikings and began to raid Britain in the 790s AD. In modern interpretations, we view the Vikings as angry savages with horns in their helmets - but, they were intelligent, settled, and creative. And these ideas spread across Europe with their raids.

Why Did the Vikings Attack Britain

The Vikings started to attack Britain in 790s AD because they had previously traded goods with the Anglos Saxons in England for many years, and knew of their wealth. The first recorded attack was on the monastery at Lindisfarne in 793 AD, and the Vikings continued to return for the next few years.

Viking Settlement in Britain

The Vikings had a lot in common with the Anglo-Saxons, even though they fought every time the Vikings came to Britain. They were both farming communities and both looked to new lands to improve their opportunities. This is why the Vikings settled in Britain in places like Jorvik (York). Britain provided a better landscape and more space for the Vikings to farm and grow crops, and many younger brothers in families left to settle for a new life in Britain.


The Vikings that settled in Britain took over areas of Britain like Northumbria and East Anglia. The Vikings attempted to take over Wessex a number of times, but failed due to Alfred’s great leadership, so the two leaders made peace. In this, the Viking leader became a Christian and Alfred had to accept the Vikings were staying. Territory which was controlled by the Vikings, in which Viking laws held sway and Vikings dominated over Anglo Saxon native population there was called ‘Danelaw’.

Alfred the Great

Alfred became the King of Wessex in 871 AD and died in 899 AD. He was known as Alfred the Great for three main reasons:

- Alfred took the __most just laws __from other kingdoms and used them for his

- Alfred ensured there would be__ no further Viking attacks __through __defences __and agreements

- Alfred became the ‘overlord’ (the first person to have ruled over most of the kingdoms in England).

English Identity

Before Alfred, England was split into many kingdoms with many rulers, with each believing they had their own land. Under Alfred a new found unity __of England formed and from this the idea of __English identity began. As other kingdoms saw Alfred as their overlord, the people united and saw themselves as Angelcynn (English).

Impact of the Vikings

The Vikings had a positive and negative impact on England.

- __Caused __death and destruction through raids

- Settled in Danelaw, forcing Anglo Saxons to become second class citizens

- __Introduced __new ways of making things (farming, crafts, amber, different foods, slavery).

- Introduced new language, many words of which we still use today like ‘Thursday’ and ‘Dirt’

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What was the Danelaw?
area controlled by vikings
Why did the Vikings begin to attack the Anglo Saxons in Britain?
Your answer should include: wealth / land / gold / riches
What impact did the Vikings have on Britain?
Your answer should include: language / settlements / fear / craft / skills / farming