Archaeologists believe they have found the site of a key Viking fortress on the eastern coast of Ireland. The fortress, identified in the Irish Annals as “Linn Duchaill” was founded by the Vikings the same year as Dublin, the capital.
RTÉ says three test trenches at the small town of Annagassan in County Louth, north of Dublin, show remains of so-called “hack” silver, used as ship’s ballast, nails for ship-building, some human remains and items from everyday life.
The archaeologists are sure the site is that of Linn Duchaill, founded by the Vikings in 841.
The dig has revealed signs of a major defensive wall, built to defend the settlement on one side. The other sides were protected by the River Glyde and the Irish Sea.
The Ulster Annals record Linn Duchaill as a Viking base used to raid inland up to what is today Northern Ireland. History records a pitched battle in 851 AD, between “dark haired” and “fair haired” Vikings. Vikings from both Norway and Denmark raided Ireland throughout the Viking Era.
It is thought the base was inhabited until 927 AD, when, according to the Annals, the Vikings left to attack Britain.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Keeper of Antiquities at Ireland’s National Museum, Eamonn Kelly, says:
"Attempts to identify this site date back over 200 years and the significance of it is immense. It will be up there with all the major Viking sites in Europe."
Kelly said Linn Duchaill would have been Ireland’s capital:
“Except (the nearby) Dundalk Bay is shallow and access to it was determined by tidal conditions so Dublin won out".
Excavation director Dr Mark Clinton gave more information on why the site was so important:
"In 841 the Vikings over-wintered for the first time instead of raiding and leaving. The annals said they over-wintered here and in Dublin and this location was elusive. Until now."
Linn Duchaill was a so-called “longphort,” a fortified base from which the Vikings could launch raids either upriver or along the seacoasts.
In his book, The Vikings, Johannes Brœndsted says they not only raided and looted Ireland itself, but used bases on the island to attack Britain and parts of the European continent, especially the Atlantic coast of France, as well.