Uncovering evidence for Vikings

The Bangor hoard deposited c.925

For an unbiased contemporary picture of Viking Wales, we have to turn to archaeology. The distribution of known hoards of Viking silver in Wales is coastal in character. Two hoards have been found in the immediate vicinity of the site of St Deiniol's monastery at Bangor, one deposited about 925, and a small group of coins deposited c. 970. The later Bryn Maelgwyn hoard of coins near Llandudno was deposited in the mid-1020s, and may be Viking booty rather than local savings.

A remarkable hoard of five complete Viking silver arm-rings of Hiberno-Norse type, now in the collections of the National Museums & Galleries of Wales, was found in the 19th century on the south-eastern side of Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey. This group and the Cuerdale (Lancs.) hoard (c. 905) have both been associated by researchers with events surrounding the expulsion of Ingimund from Dublin.

The silver arm-rings from Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey

Isolated finds are occasionally made in Wales, such as merchants' weights from beaches in Pembrokeshire, and cloak fasteners from the foreshore at Portskewett (Monmouthshire) and Swansea Bay as well as from Lanfair Pwllgwyngyll on Anglesey and Penarthur (Pembrokeshire). A remarkable sword guard discovered by a diver off the Smalls Reef is decorated with beasts and snake-like animals in Urnes style of about 1100-25, and probably came from a vessel of Norse type lost en route between Ireland and Wales.

Fragments of bone comb from Llanbedrgoch

In 1945 the grave of an adult was found on a sandy ridge facing Benllech sands. A number of iron nails and an antler comb found in it pointed to the Viking Age. Was this person one of the first generation pagan Vikings settlers on Anglesey? Only further work will tell. Later Viking fashions within the Christian community on Anglesey can still be traced in the decorative styles appearing on some stonework, such as the 10th-century cross at Penmon. This reflects a trend recorded elsewhere of peaceful integration during the 10th century with native populations.

what's on

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.