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Vikings Invade Ireland

Vikings Invade Ireland

The coasts of Ireland and Scotland seemed to have supplied the perfect targets for the ferocious attacks of the Vikings. The geography was familiar, with many isles and inlets and the jagged outline of coast, which all provided safe harbor for their ships, just as did the fjords of Norway. The religious communities offered rich treasures in the churches and monasteries, and were often defended only by the peaceful monks and townspeople who were no match for the terrifying attacks of the Vikings.

Ireland was attacked repeatedly by the Vikings from the eighth century through the eleventh century. It became a practice of the religious communities of Ireland to send their valuables to other communities further inland in hopes that they would be safe from raids. It also became common practice to bury precious metalware and valuable books to hide them from the Vikings. Many books had been destroyed when the Viking raiders ripped off their bejewelled covers.

The Vikings had developed a raiding style of sudden, ferocious attacks which they carried out with "limitless cruelty." They arrived swiftly, attacked the people without mercy, stole what riches they could carry off quickly, and then made a quick exit, often setting fire to the buildings they had just plundered.

After a time, the people of Ireland stopped rebuilding some settlements, and moved inland to escape attacks. The sudden raid tactics of the Vikings were getting harder to carry out, as they had to travel further inland to find any riches to plunder. Also, land in Norway was often not available for younger sons, and it became apparent that there was much to be gained by annexing lands in Ireland. Viking settlements grew up in many small places, and over time, through intermarriage with the local people, the communities grew. The Vikings are credited with establishing Ireland's first genuine cities, among these, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Waterford and Dublin.