Congratulations to Dr. Mark Clinton, chair of the antiquities committee of An Taisce, and to all his colleagues in Annagassan, Co.Louth. He and his team have uncovered the remains of what may be the lost Viking fortress, or longphort, of Linn Duchaill. According to Eamonn Kelly, the National Museum’s keeper of antiquities; “the significance of it is immense. It will be up there with all the major Viking sites in Europe.” 

As Dr. Clinton puts it; “In 841 the Vikings over-wintered for the first time instead of raiding and leaving. The annals said they over-wintered here and in Dublin and this location was elusive. Until now.”

That it has been found at all is due to long and painstaking fieldwalking by a couple of people and to their courage in pushing an eventual site-hunch to obtain funding. Consequent excavation, of just three small trenches, has unearthed over 200 objects in 3 weeks; including ship rivets, pieces of silver, a spindle whorl and a brooch pin – even part of a human skull (within the defensive ditch). Did axes swing that day, at Linn Duchaill?;

“My mother said
I would be bought
A boat with fine oars,
Set off with Vikings,
Stand up on the prow,
Command the precious craft,
Then enter port,
Kill a man and another.” – from Egil’s Saga

Radiocarbon dates from the “massive” ditch, built across an inlet on a river, are pending, but there seems little doubt about its identification as; “the main fortification of the Viking fortress“. And thankfully, because no development is involved in this case, the structure won’t disappear again into the written word. According to Dr. Clinton, all finds; “will be conserved and analysed and a full report of the findings published”.

More articles about this excavation can be found here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0917/1224279093813.html

http://www.dundalkdemocrat.ie/dundalknews/More-discoveries-lie-ahead-at.6543273.jp

With regard to the growing Viking presence, it’s also worth noting Stephen Oppenheimer’s estimate (‘The Origins of the British’ 2007, 462) – that (historic) Norwegian and Danish intrusion into the DNA of the British Isles’ population could be by as much as 5.5%.