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The Vikings in Northumbria - MST00069M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matthew Townend
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

In 793 Viking raiders attacked the coastal monastery of Lindisfarne. In 866 the Viking ‘great army’ attacked the city of York and conquered the kingdom of Northumbria. After that, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records, ‘they shared out the land of the Northumbrians and they proceeded to plough and to support themselves’. Scandinavian kings ruled in York until 954, and even after that time, right up until 1066 and beyond, the area they had ruled over (roughly equivalent to the modern county of Yorkshire) showed strong signs of Scandinavian culture and political separatism.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

This team-taught module will explore, from an inter-disciplinary perspective, the history and culture of the Vikings in Northumbria. Using a variety of sources and approaches (archaeological, artistic, textual, and linguistic), the module will examine questions of migration, settlement, religion, politics, economy, culture, and identity. A recurrent emphasis will be on issues of interaction and assimilation between Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of the Vikings in Northumbria
  • knowledge and understanding of appropriate disciplines and methodologies for the study of the Vikings in Northumbria

Module content

Seminar programme for Autumn Term 2022:

Week 2 The Great Army (Julian Richards)
Week 3 Chronicles and Kings (Alex Traves)
Week 4 Coinage (Andrew Woods)
Week 5 Poetry and Language (Matthew Townend)
Week 6 Settlement and Burial Archaeology (Julian Richards)
Week 7 Place-Names (Eleanor Rye)
Week 8 Stone Sculpture (Jane Hawkes)
Week 9 Reception and Rediscovery (Matthew Townend)


Task Length % of module mark
3500-4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3500-4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required.

Indicative reading

Clare Downham, Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: the dynasty of Ivarr to AD1014 (Edinburgh, 2008, chapter 3)

Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards, The Viking Great Army and the Making of England (London, 2001)

David Rollason, Northumbria 500-1100: creation and destruction of a kingdom (Cambridge, 2003, chapter 6)

Matthew Townend, Viking Age Yorkshire (Pickering, 2014)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.