The Vikings in East Anglia


East Anglia had a special relationship with the Vikings. They attacked this region many times and settled here in large numbers. For generations they ruled it as part of the Danelaw (a geographic region where Danish laws applied) in a separate kingdom, and long after it became part of a united England their influence continued to be felt. In some ways, that influence still remains.

Read a more detailed history of the Vikings in Britain >>

When were the Vikings here?

Viking attacks on East Anglia came in three phases:

  • 867 - Armies overthrew kingdoms, set up local princes and concentrated on plunder and tribute. The focus in the first few years was the usual Viking interest in gold, silver and slaves.
  • From 876 - Land was added in order to settle.
  • From the 990s - A third wave came under Svein Forkbeard and his son Canute, who aimed to secure the throne of England itself.

In northern Britain and Ireland, the Vikings seem to have come from Norway; but in eastern England they are always called Danes. Although many did come from Denmark, the soldiers in their armies may have come from other parts of Scandinavia and even parts of England.

The end of the Viking period is considered to be 1066, when the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II defeated a Viking invasion at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire - just two weeks before the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. Still, many Danes who had settled in Britain remained and integrated into the population.

Learn more with a Viking Q&A

To help prepare for the Viking project, Civilizations in Contact researchers did extensive work to answer questions about the Vikings, their role in East Anglia and how they linked Britain to other parts of the world.

Find out what we learned - explore the questions below to gain more background knowledge about Viking life and culture:

Photograph of Astrid, a woman wearing a long green dress with a wide white hem at the bottom.

"Astrid" is one of a number of fictional historical characters created by Civilizations in Contact to help children understand different aspects of Viking life.

Originally from Northern Africa, Astrid now lives in the East Anglian village of Vestenby. She represents Viking exploration, trade and interaction with other cultures.