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The Search for Spanish Vikings

Friday, December 19, 2014

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND—Irene García Losquiño of the University of Aberdeen is conducting the first comprehensive study of Viking sites in Spain. “There are written accounts of Viking raids in northern Spain but, archaeologically, absolutely nothing has been done on an academic scale,” she said. She visited Galicia, in northern Spain, last spring, when a number of Viking anchors washed ashore in a storm. Working with Jan Henrik Fallgren of the University of Aberdeen and Ylva Backstrom of the University of Lund, García Losquiño found tell-tale signs of Vikings. “On the beach where the anchors were found there was a big mound which locals thought might have been a motte-and-bailey construction, which was used by the later Vikings in France. But with the help of a geographer using tomography we now think this was a longphort—a Viking construction only found in Ireland during the early Viking age, and very similar to English Viking camps, where they would winter, after taking over the harbor,” she explained. The team has been comparing aerial maps from the 1950s with satellite images to look for additional camps. “We want to find something datable and trace their movements, through where they established camps,” she said. To read in-depth about some of the earliest evidence of Viking warfare, see "The First Vikings."

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