Heirs of the Vikings

Heirs of the Vikings

History and Identity in Normandy and England, c.950-c.1015

Katherine Cross


York Medieval Press



Examination of texts concerning the vikings reveals much about their origin myth and legend.
Viking settlers and their descendants inhabited both England and Normandy in the tenth century, but narratives discussing their origins diverged significantly. This comparative study explores the depictions of Scandinavia and the events of the Viking Age in genealogies, origin myths, hagiographies, and charters from the two regions. Analysis of this literary evidence reveals the strategic use of Scandinavian identity by Norman and Anglo-Saxon elites. Countering interpretations which see claims of Viking identity as expressions of contact with Scandinavia, the comparison demonstrates the local, political significance of these claims. In doing so, the book reveals the earliest origins of familiar legends which at once demonize and romanticize the Vikings - and which have their roots in both Anglo-Saxon and Norman traditions.

Dr Katherine Cross is a historian of the early Middle Ages at the British Museum and Wolfson College, University of Oxford.


1 black and white, 2 line illustrations
276 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781903153796, April 2018
eBook, 9781787442207, April 2018
York Medieval Press
BISAC HIS010020, HIS037010
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Problem of a Viking Identity
Genealogy: Building a Viking Age Dynasty
Origin Myths: A People for a Dynasty
Hagiography I: Ruin and Restoration
Hagiography II: Saintly Patronage
Charter Narratives: Normans, Northumbrians and Northmen
Conclusion: Viking Age Narratives and Ethnic Identities
Appendix 1: The Date of Fulbert's Vita Romani
Appendix 2: The Dates of the Latin Vita Prima Sancti Neoti and the Old English Life of St Neot