'Lost' early Viking site in Co Louth one of 'most important' in world

 

ANNAGASSAN IN Co Louth is home to one of the world’s most important Viking sites, a local curator has claimed.

The Vikings over-wintered in two places in Ireland: one would become Dublin, the other was believed to have been lost in time. Not any more.

A year after test trenches were dug on the “virgin” site, the results of radio-carbon testing on some of the artefacts recovered have confirmed that “Linn Duachaill” exists and is perfectly preserved underneath farmland.

According to Brian Walsh, curator of the County Museum in Louth: “This site is mind-blowing. It is untouched, there is no motorway going through it and it is basically virgin territory. It has been husbanded and farmed for the last few hundred years and is unspoilt.” He said believed it to be one of the most important sites of its kind in the world.

The keeper of antiquities at the National Museum, Dr Ned Kelly, said the site was “intact”.

“It has not been trashed by a road and is a greenfield site. Linn Duachaill is enormously important because it is of the very earliest period of Viking settlement in Ireland.

“It was founded in 841 and the annals [of Ulster] tell us it was used over the next 50 years continuously,” he said.

“Radio carbon dating has conclusively shown we are dealing with a site of early Viking age. It is exactly what we thought it was and it is of such significance that an international conference is being held to discuss it.”

Linn Duachaill is beside the river Glyde some 60km north of Dublin and is just south of Dundalk bay.

It was here the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired. According to the Annals of Ulster,a 15th-century account of medieval Ireland, the Vikings used this base to raid inland as far as Longford and up to Armagh.

The poor tides and shallow waters of Dundalk bay meant the Vikings eventually chose Dublin as a location to repair their ships.

However, Linn Duachaill was also a large trading town, exporting Irish slaves and looted goods.

Among the artefacts going on display later this month to coincide with the conference is a slave chain made of iron and a whet stone that was used to sharpen small implements.