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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: 2024-25

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. This team-taught module will explore, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the history and culture of the Vikings in Northumbria

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

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

This module will be taught via a briefing and eight 2-hour seminars. Seminar topics may change each year due to staff availability, but may include:

The Great Army
Chronicles and Kings
Poetry and Language
Settlement and Burial Archaeology
Stone Sculpture
Reception and Rediscovery


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

Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay of up to 2,000 words and receive written or oral feedback, as appropriate, from a tutor. For the summative essay (3500-4000 words), students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback in line with the University's turnaround policy. 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: Dunedin Academic Press, 2008.

Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards. The Viking Great Army and the Making of England. London: Thames and Hudson, 2021.

David Rollason. Northumbria 500-1100: creation and destruction of a kingdom. Cambridge: University Press, 2003.

Matthew Townend. Viking Age Yorkshire. Pickering: Blackthorn Press, 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.