Vikings

You can’t park that longship here!

I was thinking about the first report of Vikings in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Part of the entry (this comes from Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer) in the Chronicle for 787 reads

And on his dagum comon ærest þreo scipu; and þa se gerefa þærto rad, and hie wolde drifan to þæs cyninges tune, þy he nyste hwæt hie wæron; and hine man ofslog. Þæt wæron þa ærestan scipu Deniscra manna þe Angelcynnes land gesohton.
(And in his day three ships first came; and then the reeve rode there, and wanted to take them to the king’s estate because he didn’t know what sort of people they were; and he was killed. Those were the first three ships of the Danish people that came to England.)

I can just imagine that the reeve was some officious twerp who turned up demanding beach fees for the longship; then asking if they had an import licence for the weapons and armour; then demanding that they pay duty on the weapons and armour; and finally asking them for their passports (which they’d left in their other chainmail which was at home being darned). At this point, Olaf decided that the annoying official was inhibiting free trade in the North Sea region, and decided to slash border controls. If the reeve had got any further, the Vikings would’ve been made to sit an Englishness test.

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