Joy as ‘mythic’ Viking village found

IT EXISTED in folklore and fairy tales — a bit like Tír na nÓg — until 21st century technology confirmed a tiny village in Ireland was in fact home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

The Vikings over-wintered in two places in Ireland, one would become Dublin, the other was believed to have been lost in time. Not anymore.

A year after test trenches were dug on the “virgin” site, the results of radio-carbon testing on some of the artefacts recovered have confirmed that “Linn Duachaill” exists and is perfectly preserved underneath farmland in Annagassan, Co Louth.

One of the believers that the mythical community had actually existed was Brian Walsh, curator of the county museum in Louth who said; “This site is mind-blowing. It is untouched, there is no motorway going through it and it is basically virgin territory. It has been husbanded and farmed for the last few hundred years and is unspoilt,”

He believes it is one of the most important sites of its kind in the world, not just Europe.

Another believer that the tales about Vikings in Louth were more than just stories handed down from generation to generation is the keeper of antiquities at the National Museum, Dr Ned Kelly.

“This site is intact; it has not been trashed by a road and is a greenfield site,” said Dr Kelly.

“Linn Duachaill is enormously important because it is of the very earliest period of Viking settlement in Ireland. It was founded in 841 and the Annals (of Ulster) tell us it was used over the next 50 years continuously,” he said.

“Radio-carbon dating has conclusively shown we are dealing with a site of early Viking age. It is exactly what we thought it was and it is of such significance that an international conference is being held to discuss it,” he added.

Linn Duchaill is beside the river Glyde some 60km north of Dublin and is just south of Dundalk Bay.

It was here the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired and according to the Ulster Annals, a 15th century account of medieval Ireland, the Vikings used this base to raid inland as far as Longford and up to Armagh.

The poor tides and shallow waters of Dundalk Bay meant the Vikings eventually chose Dublin as a location to repair their ships.

However, Linn Duachaill was also a large trading town, exporting Irish slaves and looted goods.

Among the artefacts going on display later this month to coincide with the conference, is a slave chain made of iron and a whet stone which was used to sharpen small implements.

Funding from the Dundalk museum paid for geophysical surveys which pinpointed where to dig test trenches last year.

*The conference takes place in the town hall in Dundalk on October 22-23.

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