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Uncovering Vikings History: A Guide Into Vikings' Exploration, Culture, Historic Battles and Their Legendary Warriors by Lucas Russo
Uncovering Vikings History: A Guide Into Vikings' Exploration, Culture, Historic Battles and Their Legendary Warriors by Lucas Russo

A Tale of Resilience Against Viking Attacks

Amidst the longstanding Viking hostility, Lyminge, a monastery in Kent, stood resilient, resisting collapse for nearly a century, as effective defensive strategies were put in place by the ecclesiastical and secular rulers of Kent. University of Reading archaeologists discovered that Anglo-Saxon monasteries were more resilient than previously thought.

Re-Examining the Evidence

Dr. Gabor Thomas, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading, examined the archaeological and historical evidence in detail. According to him, the image of ruthless Viking raiders slaughtering helpless monks and nuns is not accurate, and the monasteries had more resilience than previously assumed.

Astonishing Survival

Located in a region of Kent that bore the full brunt of Viking raids in the later 8th and early 9th centuries, the Lyminge monastery not only survived but also recovered more completely than historians previously thought. Dr. Thomas concludes in his research, published in the journal Archaeologia, that the monastic community at Lyminge persisted for nearly two centuries following the monastery’s establishment in the second half of the 7th century.

The Main Elements of the Monastery

Archaeologists uncovered the main elements of the monastery during the excavations, including the stone chapel at its heart surrounded by a wide swathe of wooden buildings and other structures where the monastic brethren and their dependents lived out their daily lives. Radiocarbon dating of butchered animal bones discarded as rubbish indicates the occupation persisted.

Resilience Beyond Expectations

The monks not only returned to re-establish their settlement at Lyminge, but also continued living and building for several decades over the course of the 9th century, as discovered by Dr. Thomas’s dig. Silver coins discovered at the site provided Dr. Thomas with insight into the re-establishment of the monastic community. This research paints a more complex picture of the experience of monasteries during these troubled times, proving that they were more resilient than the ‘sitting duck’ image portrayed in popular accounts of Viking raiding.

The Breaking Point

The resilience of the monastery was subsequently stretched beyond breaking point by the end of the 9th century when the site of the monastery appears to have been completely abandoned. This was most likely due to sustained long-term pressure from Viking armies who were known to have been active in south-eastern Kent in the 880s and 890s.

The Restoration

Settled life was eventually restored in Lyminge during the 10th century, but under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury, who had acquired the lands formerly belonging to the monastery.

A Decade of Archaeological Research

The latest research article is based on the results of over a decade of archaeological research at Lyminge, directed by Dr. Thomas. The village was first established by Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the recent archaeological research at Lyminge monastery in Kent has revealed a surprising level of resilience among Anglo-Saxon monastic communities during the Viking raids of the 8th and 9th centuries. Contrary to popular perception, the monks at Lyminge were not helpless victims but instead implemented effective defensive strategies that allowed them to persist for nearly two centuries. This research highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of the experiences of monasteries during this tumultuous period in British history. The restoration of settled life at Lyminge in the 10th century, albeit under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury, is a testament to the enduring legacy of this remarkable community.

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Sources

  • Andrieux, E., Backhouse, L., Bailiff, I., Fsa, R., Ballantyne, R., Fsa, M., Fsa, P., Fsa, D., Fsa, C., Holman, D., Holmes, M., Marshall, P., Mills, P., Poole, C., Gabor, D., & Fsa, T. (n.d.). Gabor Thomas FSA, with contributions. https://doi.org/10.26530/20.500.12657/60888

  • Esparza, D. (2023, February 15). How medieval monasteries survived Viking raids. Aleteia — Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, and Culture. https://aleteia.org/2023/02/15/how-medieval-monasteries-survived-viking-raids/

  • Why is Lyminge Parish Church important? (2018, October 27). Pathways to the Past; Pathways to the Past. https://geopaethas.wordpress.com/pages/why-is-lyminge-parish-church-important/

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