We’ve always been a city of rebels.
But now Cork’s true Viking origins are to be discussed in detail at an upcoming conference, during which a new theory about where, exactly, the first Hiberno-Norse settlement on Leeside was located will be proposed.
Some of the best Irish and international scholars will delve into the subject and share their findings at The Vikings and Cork: Raiding, Trading, and the Development of the Town, a free public online event organised by Cork Historical and Archaeological Society on Saturday, June 19th, 2021.
“Viking Cork remains elusive, we don’t know exactly where it was or what it looked like.” said conference organiser, Dr Griffin Murray, who lectures in archaeology at University College Cork.
“The question of Viking Cork has puzzled archaeologists and historians for decades. Importantly, this is the first time that scholars have come together to discuss the historical, archaeological, and art historical evidence we have for Viking and Hiberno-Scandinavian Cork. Many of the top academics in Viking Studies in Ireland and Britain are speaking at this special event, so people are in for a real treat,” he said.
Some of the most interesting discussion is expected to revolve around a lecture by Howard Clarke on the chronology and locations of the earliest Viking presence in Cork in the ninth century and of subsequent urban settlements on either side of the River Lee’s south channel.
As Professor Emeritus of Medieval Socio-Economic History at University College Dublin, Clarke’s talk will be based on ongoing work with his wife Máire Ní Laoi. The couple are co-authors of the Cork volume of the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Historic Towns Atlas series, due out in 2022.
“I would argue that there was an absolute break in continuity between the distinctive ninth-century Viking presence in a fort or stronghold on the north of Cork’s central island, around present-day North Main Street, and the later set of Scandinavians who came to the south of Ireland in 913 and 914 and occupied a site in Cork,” said Prof Clarke.
Dr Rebecca Boyd will give the conference a flavour of what life was like on the island city, and will outline differences between Viking Cork and Viking Dublin. She said everyday life in Viking Cork is evoked by a small wooden toy boat found under the car park at South Main Street, where several houses were excavated between 2003 and 2005.
“As well as showing evidence of simple things like children at play, it’s interesting to compare with a toy ship from Viking Dublin that was longer and narrower than this one,” said Dr Boyd.
Registration for the online event is now open through the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society website, corkhist.ie.
Main image: Elizabeth Fort