Are we descended from Vikings?

Having a very strong affinity to Scandinavia, I always fancied myself having Viking blood coursing through my veins! Alas, it is probably just wishful thinking.

Although the Vikings had strongholds in Orkney and Shetland and constantly raided Ireland and the Scottish isles for plunder and slaves from the wealthy monasteries (as well as further down the Eastern English coast), they apparently didn’t bother too much with North East Scotland even though it was pretty much in their direct line of sail just across the water.

There were undoubtedly a few sorties - but the lack of rocky inlets along the coast line afforded the Vikings no decent places to hole up unlike the West coast. In addition, the relative flatness of the terrain meant that the local people could quickly muster a force to repel any approaching marauders. Those foolish enough to land, as at Gamrie (see Raitt Anecdotes) soon found out our ancestors were not to be trifled with. Besides there were no major sites worth plundering in the sparse and scattered settlements of the rural North East during the Viking period in the late 8th century and through the 9th. There is also a dearth of archaeological evidence of any strong Viking presence.  

Interestingly enough, in the Daily Telegraph for 20 September 2009, there is an article telling how a 13th century Viking travel guide exhorted voyagers to steer clear of Scotland because it was full of dangerous natives who spoke an incomprehensible language - oh and by the way, the weather was awful (worse than that of the Viking homelands?)

So, even though some Vikings probably did come ashore in our ancestral lands and cavort with the local wenches and even settled there - the chances of me really being descended from ex-Viking Thor Two-handed Axe Skull Cleaver are probably pretty slim. (Or are they?? See the analysis of my DNA results some two years after this entry was written!)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009