Strangford Vikings


"Place of the strong currents"

Courtesy of 'Journal of the Upper Ards Historical Society'

During the 9th Century the Viking raids began. These were Norsemen and Danes from Scandinavia. Ireland and other countries bordering on the North Atlantic were to be subjected for nearly three centuries to spasmodic raids by these aggressive invaders.

They raided mainly around the coasts, although they penetrated into Lough Neagh and up the Shannon River...

Irish Warriors ballting vikings in the 9th Century
Irish Warriors ballting vikings in the 9th Century
The Vikings raided churches for rich treasurers and destroyed centuries of recorded history and works of art. Bangor was sacked in 823 and 824 while Downpatrick and Movilla were also sacked in 825. This marked the start of the Viking age proper when raids also occurred far inland.

There is evidence of a Viking base in the Strangford Lough in the mid 9th Century, thought to be about 822 but it is not known how long it lasted. What is thought to be a Viking bracelet has recently been found in the vicinity of Inishargie, Kircubbin. This is the only substantial physical evidence for the Viking invasion of Strangford Lough.

By 970 a military alliance was set up between Ulaid and the Vikings and from then until 1014 gradually merged into Irish Society.

On the plus side for these raiders, they set up the first towns in Ireland, namely Dublin, Waterford and limerick. From their ports they carried on a substantial maritime trade. They are reputed to have introduced silver and metal craft to Ireland.

The Vikings invaded Carlingford and Strangford Loughs, giving both their names. The name Strangford originally referred only to the Narrows - strong inlet. Originally, this name refers only to the narrow channel linking the loch to the sea (between the villages of Portaferry and Strangford). Up until the 18th century the main body of the loch was better known by its older, Irish name, Loch Cuan.

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