Those intrepid sea explorers bore down on Ireland from Scandinavia, engaging in wars with kings and seeking out rich treasures. But for all they took, the Vikings left behind some amazing artifacts as well!
Start in Waterford, one of the points on Ireland’s Viking Triangle
. Even the name gives clue to its origins – Veðrafjǫrðr means “ram’s fjord” in Norse! Reginald’s Tower
– one of a trio of museums called Waterford Treasures – sits at the very centre of the city, once the strongpoint of the defensive walls of the city. Here, you’ll find excellent exhibitions on Viking Waterford, including the marvelous Waterford Kite Brooch, along with a Viking weight decorated with a human face that dates back a millennium.
On to Kilkenny
next: the city itself stood strong against the invading Vikings, but in the nearby Dunmore Caves
you’ll find a spooky story just below ground. Alongside its curious rock formations, tour guides also reveal a dark tale recorded by the historic Annals of the Four Masters: how, in 928AD, Vikings massacred 1,000 local people who had sought refuge at the cave. It is a chilling episode backed up by modern archaeological discoveries of skeletons, mainly of women and children. Treasures were found here, too: in1999, a tour guide stumbled upon silver coins, bracelets and rare silks, pointing to more evidence of a Viking presence, as perhaps they used it as a hiding place?
Finally, make your way to Wexford
. Known as Veisafjǫrðr to theVikings, this compact medieval town is one of the places where the Vikings made land in the 9th century. In nearby Ferrycarrig, you’ll find the National Heritage Park
where you’ll find faithful reconstructions of Viking towns and Gaelic strongholds, to give you a true flavour of life in the olden days…
And, of course, not only did the Vikings eventually settle down and help this island grow and prosper through the centuries, another legacy is the names they left behind. Know anyone called Doyle, McDowell, Loughlin or McAuliffe? Then perhaps searching for Ireland’s Vikings may be a simple case of tracing your family tree… and we can help with that, too!