865 to 1066
Viking Invasions of England
by Something Something
From 865 the Norse attitude towards the British Isles changed, as they began to see it as a place for potential colonisation rather than simply a place to raid. As a result of this, larger armies began arriving on Britain's shores, with the intention of conquering land and constructing settlements there.
Table of Contents / Timeline
Vikings raid Lindisfarne
793 Jun 8 -
The Northmen winters for the first time
858 Jan 1 -
According the the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:
"In this year Ealdorman Ceorl with the contingent of the men of Devon fought against the heathen army at Wicganbeorg, and the English made a great slaughter there and had the victory. And for the first time, heathen men stayed through the winter on Thanet. And the same year 350 ships came into the mouth of the Thames and stormed Canterbury and London and put to flight Brihtwulf, king of the Mercians, with his army, and went south across the Thames into Surrey. And King, Æthelwulf and his son Æthelbald fought against them at Aclea with the army of the West Saxons, and there inflicted the greatest slaughter [on a heathen army] that we have ever heard of until this present day, and had the victory there."
"And the same year, King Athelstan and Ealdorman Ealhhere fought in ships and slew a great army at Sandwich in Kent, and captured nine ships and put the others to flight."
Arrival of the Great Heathen Army
865 Oct 1 -
Isle of Thanet
Norse armies captured York
866 Jan 1 -
The kingdom of Northumbria was in the middle of a civil war with Ælla and Osberht both claiming the crown. The Vikings led by Ubba and Ivar were able to take the city with little trouble.
Battle of York
867 Mar 21 -
The Battle of York was fought between the Vikings of the Great Heathen Army and the Kingdom of Northumbria on the 21 March 867. In the spring of 867 Ælla and Osberht put aside their differences and united in an attempt to push the invaders out of Northumbria. The battle started well for the Northumbrian forces, who were able to break through the city's defences. It was at this point that the experience of the Viking warriors was able to show through, as the narrow streets nullified any advantage of numbers the Northumbrians may have had. The battle ended with a slaughter of the Northumbrian army, and the death of both Ælla and Osberht.
King Æthelred of Wessex dies succeeded by Alfred
871 Jan 1 -
After ascending the throne, Alfred spent several years fighting Viking invasions.
Vikings gains Mercia and East Anglia
876 Jan 1 -
Mercia and East Angia
The Viking king of Northumbria, Halfdan Ragnarrson – one of the leaders of the Viking Great Army (known to the Anglo-Saxons as the Great Heathen Army) – surrendered his lands to a second wave of Viking invaders in 876. In the next four years, Vikings gained further land in the kingdoms of Mercia and East Anglia as well.
King Alfred forced to take refuge in the marshes of Athelney
878 Jan 1 -
Battle of Edington
878 May 1 -
Battle of Edington
Treaty of Wedmore and Danelaw
886 Jan 1 -
Wessex & East Anglia
Vikings attacks repulsed
892 Jan 1 -
Battle of Brunanburh
937 Jan 1 -
The Battle of Brunanburh was fought in 937 between Æthelstan, King of England, and an alliance of Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin; Constantine II, King of Scotland, and Owain, King of Strathclyde. The battle is often cited as the point of origin for English nationalism: historians such as Michael Livingston argue that "the men who fought and died on that field forged a political map of the future that remains [in modernity], arguably making the Battle of Brunanburh one of the most significant battles in the long history not just of England, but of the whole of the British Isles."
New wave of Vikings: Eric Bloodaxe takes York
947 Jan 1 -
The Northumbrians rejected Eadred as the king of the English and made the Norwegian Eric Bloodaxe (Eirik Haraldsson) their king. Eadred responded by invading and ravaging Northumbria. When the Saxons headed back south, Eric Bloodaxe's army caught up with some them at Castleford and made 'great slaughter. Eadred threatened to destroy Northumbria in revenge, so the Northumbrians turned their back on Eric and acknowledged Eadred as their king.
Vikings resume attack against England
980 Jan 1 -
The English government decided that the only way of dealing with these attackers was to pay them protection money, and so in 991 they gave them £10,000. This fee did not prove to be enough, and over the next decade the English kingdom was forced to pay the Viking attackers increasingly large sums of money.
St. Brice's day massacre
1002 Nov 13 -
St. Brice's day massacre was the killing of Danes in the Kingdom of England on FrieventDate, the 13th of November 1002, ordered by King Æthelred the Unready. In response to the frequent Danish raids, King Æthelred ordered the execution of all Danes living in England.
Sweyn Forkbeard invades England and becomes king
1013 Jan 1 -
King Æthelred sent his sons Edward and Alfred to Normandy, and himself retreated to the Isle of Wight, and then followed them into exile. On Christmas day 1013 Sweyn was declared King of England. Sweyn began to organise his vast new kingdom, but he died there on 3 February 1014, having ruled England for only five weeks. King Æthelred returned.
Cnut invades England
1015 Jun 1 -
Battle of Assandun
1016 Oct 18 -
Cnut becomes king of England
1017 Jan 1 -
Cnut and his sons, Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, ruled England over a combined 26-year period (1016–1042). After Harthacnut's death, the English throne reverted to the House of Wessex under Æthelred's younger son Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042–1066). As a Danish prince, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His later accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, as well as through sheer brutality. Cnut ruled England for nearly two decades. The protection he lent against Viking raiders—many of them under his command—restored the prosperity that had been increasingly impaired since the resumption of Viking attacks in the 980s. In turn the English helped him to establish control over the majority of Scandinavia, too
1066 Sep 25 -
- Blair, Peter Hunter (2003). An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK and New York City, USA: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53777-3.
- Crawford, Barbara E. (1987). Scandinavian Scotland. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Leicester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7185-1282-8.
- Graham-Campbell, James & Batey, Colleen E. (1998). Vikings in Scotland: An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0641-2.
- Horspool, David (2006). Why Alfred Burned the Cakes. London: Profile Books. ISBN 978-1-86197-786-1.
- Howard, Ian (2003). Swein Forkbeard's Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017 (illustrated ed.). Boydell Press. ISBN 9780851159287.
- Jarman, Cat (2021). River Kings: The Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads. London, UK: William Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-835311-7.
- Richards, Julian D. (1991). Viking Age England. London: B. T. Batsford and English Heritage. ISBN 978-0-7134-6520-4.
- Keynes, Simon (1999). Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald (eds.). "Vikings". The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 460–61.
- Panton, Kenneth J. (2011). Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy. Plymouth: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5779-7.
- Pearson, William (2012). Erik Bloodaxe: His Life and Times: A Royal Viking in His Historical and Geographical Settings. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4685-8330-4.
- Starkey, David (2004). The Monarchy of England. Vol. I. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-7678-4.
Subscribe to Newsletter
Get our monthly newsletter sent to your inbox, no spam.
- Notifications on new HistoryMaps
- Find out which HistoryMaps are updated
- Find out which HistoryMaps are coming out next