Beowulf & Beyond

Dan Veach



Blood & Battle

Viking Attack on Lindisfarne

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Anno dccxciii (A.D. 793)

Dire portents were seen over the Northumbrian land, frightening the people terribly. There were huge flashes of lightning, and flaming dragons were seen flying through the sky. Those signs were followed by a great famine. And a little after that in the same year, on the sixth of the Ides of June, a raid by heathen men destroyed, with looting and manslaughter, God’s church upon the isle of Lindisfarne.

from The Battle of Maldon

The murderous wolves then waded—

they were not afraid of a little water,

that Viking host—westward over the Pan.

Bearing their shields of linden wood across

the shining stream, the seamen came to land.

Against them, fierce and ready, stood Byrhtnoth

and his men. He ordered them to raise the shield wall

and hold fast against the enemy…. The time had come

when doomed men had to fall. Cries and clamor arose.

The ravens gathered, eagles eager for carrion.

There was uproar on the earth.

Now hands let go of spears—

hard and file-sharp they flew.

Bows were kept busy, and shields

seized the sharpened points….

The Vikings charged in full battle rage,

spears punching through the husks

of doomed men’s souls….

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