When the Great Heathen Army, also known as the Great Viking Army, crossed the sea in the year 865 A.D., a new chapter was opened in the history of Britain
Suddenly, East Anglia was invaded by a large number of fierce Norse warriors led by Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons, Ivar Ragnarsson (Ivar the Boneless), Halfdan Ragnarsson (Halfdene), and Ubbe Ragnarsson (Hubba), along with the Dane Viking chieftain Guthrum. The Vikings’ goal was to conquer and occupy the four East Anglia, Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex kingdoms.
A map of the routes taken by the Great Heathen Army from 865 to 878. Credit: Hel-hama – CC BY-SA 3.0
The Viking invasion of the British Isles lasted until 878 A.D. During archaeological excavations in Britain, remains of Norse warriors and their weapons were found.
A Viking camp dating to the winter of 873-4, was unearthed by a team of archaeologists from the University of Bristol. It is located in the small village of Repton, Derbyshire, and has been known since the 1970s. Repton has long been a subject of excavations.
Credit: Adobe Stock – Suleyman
Historical records state that the Viking Great Heathen Army wintered in Repton, Derbyshire, in 873 A.D. It has been suggested that Ivar the Boneless may be buried in Repton.
Archaeologists have found many fascinating Norse artifacts in Britain, some of which may be linked to the Great Heathen Army. One such object is a silver pendant bearing the hammer of the Norse God Thor. The artifact was unearthed in Norfolk and has recently been declared a treasure.
Gareth Williams, a curator at the British Museum, suggests the Thor pendant may be linked to the Great Heathen Army.
“Most of the recorded discoveries are singular finds without architectural context, with the greatest concentration in Norfolk.
The presence of Thor’s hammers are largely found at sites associated with the movements of the Great Army. There is nothing to suggest this isn’t genuine and of the time,” Williams said.
A Thor pendant found in Norfolk has been declared treasure by coroner Yvonne Blake. Credit: British Museum
Was the Thor pendant perhaps lost by a Norse warrior who fought and maybe died on British soil? We may never know, but the object estimated to have been made in the 9th or 10th century is intriguing.
Thor was after all, the Norse God of thunder and war. He was the strongest of the gods and wielded the hammer, Mjölnir. Vikings gained strength from their gods, and Thor was especially important to warriors.
As previously discussed on Ancient Pages, “The memory of Mjölnir and its owner has survived through many generations. Thor’s hammer was frequently depicted on countless boundary stones and gravestones. It was frequently found at wedding ceremonies and raised over newborn children.
Popular and respected miniature hammers are designed to be worn as pendants. Small silver amulets in the form of Mjölnir symbolize the greatness of Thor and his fight for the land.
Archaeological excavations revealed many of these artifacts.”