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Danish and Norwegian Vikings colonized the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands and the Hebrides. They raided Wales, and occupied the Isle of Man (located in the Irish Sea at the geographical center of the British Isles), the latter serving as naval base for many of their raids over the next 300 hundred years. The Isle of Man not being part of the United Kingdom, it is described separately. Read more in the Norway-section about The Isle of Man

On the Continent they attacked Rouen, Nantes and Paris in France, and the townships in southern Germany along the River Rhine. 

Isle of Man 1978. Viking warrior Isle of Man 1979. Coat of arms depicting a stylized Viking ship The French word "Boulevard", originally built as fire breaks and also serving as defense lines from invading tribes, originates from Scandinavian languages; "bolwark" [bolværk] being a quay and harbour protection from ocean waves created by the tide and the frequent, harsh westerly storms. 

Classic playwrights used it indirectly and humorously in sentences like  "Lord, protect us from the fierce Normans"! 

  • Isle of Man 1978. Viking warrior (without horned helmet!)

  • Isle of Man 1979. Coat of arms depicting a stylized Viking ship, compare with the Irish millennium coin immediately below. 

However, they came to control the coastal regions of Ireland and the harbours of Limerick and Cork, as well as their fortified naval base and trade station for slaves by the River Liffey later developed into the city of Dublin. The Irish and the Viking cultures are closely connected, but although the old perception of the Vikings as hooligans and monastery raiders is still heard, there is also an increasing attention to the Vikings' positive contributions to the general  development of Ireland. 
 

The Vikings went forth to set foot in Ireland but at the time this island was a myriad of belligerent Celtic chieftains and dozens of different armies, so the Vikings were never really got foothold there. 

Unfortunately I am unaware of any Irish stamps on the Viking-subject. If visitors to this page know of any such, please send me relevant info (stating year of issuance and/or Scott-number), by using the email-address provided below. 

Instead I have found a Millennium coin of 1 Punt from Eire, showing on the head side an allegorical viking ship, and on the tail side a - I suppose - some sort of musical instrument of Gaelic origin. The minting year of the coin is not indicated except for the "Millennium" designation, fitting fine into the total concept of a mixed Gaelic-Viking culture of the period. 

  • Irish Millennium Coin of 1 Punt. 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers generally to the raiding armies as þa Deniscan [the Danes] while those who settled in England were identified by their place of settlement, and writes for the year 865, that "a huge pagan army landed in East Anglia and conquered the City of York, which they called Jorvic. The Vikings dominated York for the next hundred years, transforming it into an international trade center. 

York being their base, the Vikings conquered three of England's four kingdoms, and around the year 900 practically half of England had become Viking-land. The area became known as Danelagen [old Norse for Danish Law = jurisdiction], and was reigned by the Danish Viking Erik "Bloodaxe". 

The Danish invaders were reputed for their ferocity, and Erik did not have his engaging nickname because he was good to children! He was dethroned in 954, and was thus the last Viking-king in York. Without King Harold to oppose the bloodthirsty Dane, possibly Christianity would not have survived in Great Britain. 

  • Lundy Island 1961. Millenary Europa issue, commemorating the defeat of the  Danish Viking Erik Bloodaxe in 954. Scan by courtesy of Rodney Cork (Australia). 

Note about Lundy Stamps
Mr. Bob Harper (Great Britain) has notified me that the stamps, or more properly 'carriage labels' issued by Lundy were not just valid for internal postage within the island (it is only 3.5 miles long and half a mile wide and 99.9% of the residents live in the sole village). They were introduced in 1929 to pay for the cost of handling and shipping the mail to the UK mainland (a ship ride of about 2 hours these days). and until the 1980's were also fixed to incoming mail. 

Interestingly, apart from a period from 1954 until about 1961 they were issued only for this purpose. The 7 years mentioned are called the 'Wallpaper period' by Lundy collectors and occurred because the island 'outsourced' its stamp production to an agent named Anton Medaware who produced a vast surplus which were aimed at collectors. The Viking stamp is part of this.

In York the Vikings became urbanized, built streets, minted silver coins, and started a mass production of basic goods for sustaining life -- such as combs carved from stag antlers, and leather footwear. Even today many of the street names still carry their names of Danish origin, such as Petergate, Marygate, etc. The presence of the Vikings is still commemorated by the Channel Islands Guernsey and Jersey. 

  • Guernsey 1982. Europa stamp. A fleet of Viking Ships. 

Guernsey 1982. Europa stamp. A fleet of Viking Ships. 

Great Britain Regional Issues for Guernsey 1958. Queen Elizabeth II looking serenely alongside the Crown of William the Conqueror. The emblem is the Guernsey lily (Nerine Sarniensis).

After Erik's death the area was invaded by new Vikings who fiercely collected "protection fees" from the new -- and weak -- English rulers, and controlled English sovereignty for another decade. By 1066 the half-Danish Viking Erik Godwinsson was crowned King of England, only to face two enemies, the brutal Norwegian Harald III Sigurdsson, and William the Conqueror from Normandy in France, who both attacked England with a few days interval. 
  • Great Britain Regional Issues for Guernsey 1958. Queen Elizabeth II looking serenely alongside the Crown of William the Conqueror. The emblem is the Guernsey lily (Nerine Sarniensis). 

These attacks were decisive for history. Harald III, also known as "Harald Hardrada  [The Harsh]" was defeated and killed in the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York. Having defeated the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge, the English army quickly had to confront the Norman Vikings, who had crossed the English Channel at Hastings. The Battle of Hastings is known to be one of the bloodiest ever in English history, and now considered to be the last act of the Vikings' appearance in England. It has been immortalized through the world famous Bayeux Tapestries. 

Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #1 in a set of 6. Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #2 in a set of 6. Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #3 in a set of 6.
Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #4 in a set of 6. Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #5 in a set of 6. Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, the Battle of Hastings. Stamp #6 in a set of 6.
  • Jersey 1982. Bayeux Tapestries telling the story of the Viking William the Conqueror and, to some extent, also the Battle of Hastings. Note that Queen Mathilda, appearing in the lighthouse on the 5th stamp, is also honoured by a French stamp "Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux", Scott #887. 

A similar set was issued by Great Britain in 1966, celebrating the 9th anniversary of the battle. The complete British set of stamps can be seen here. Also a few French stamps of the Bayeux Tapestries are released (Scott #2054, and #2412-2413). See also the Danish stamp from 1970 top left on the Danish page. 

Below are two slogan postmarks, which both refer to The Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the "second-hand" Viking - William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and his invasion of England where he defeated Harold, completely exhausted after just defeating Harald Hardrada's mainly Viking army at Stamford Bridge, and then having to force march his army to the South of England to face William. Both scans contributed by Rodney Cork (Australia).  

  • Slogan postmark from Hastings in Sussex, Aug, 1, 1963. 

  • Slogan postmark from Hastings in Sussex, saying "Hastings - Popular with Visitors since 1066". The date is illegible, but appears to be from the 1960s. 

William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings is shown on this stamp which belongs to the above mentioned Great Britain-set of eight from the Bayeux Tapestries. 
  • Great Britain 1966. William the Conqueror defeating Harold. 

Great Britain 1966. William the Conqueror defeating Harold.

The Danish influence in England must have been legendary. Personally I remember one delightful occasion when "raiding" a stamp shop in Yorkshire some years ago. When the shopkeeper learned I was from Denmark he stared at me, seemingly horrified, and exclaimed:  "Oooh no, not another a Dane!". But, after all, when I had paid my purchase he saw me to the door, shook hands and added, somewhat more kindly "Nahh, never mind -- welcome back another time" :-)) 

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Revised 21-jun-2008

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff