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History Of Vikings Invading Ireland

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History Of Vikings Invading Ireland


History Of Vikings Invading Ireland


When the Vikings arrived in Ireland they were the first influx of new people to the island since the Celts arrival during the Iron Age Period.    Now, the Celts were the ancestors from Gutland.   We know our ancestors from Gutland came to Scotland in a large wave in approximatley 400 AD.   They were hired to fight!   This we just learn a few years ago, and now we know more that the Carruthers DNA was in Ireland and Scotland way before 400 AD.   Yes, we were Celts, Guts, Goths, and more names as mentioned in a previous blog.  Around 700 AD, the Celts, Guths and all were now called Vikings.

For over 8 centuries Ireland was left untouched from external attacks unlike neighboring Britain who faced conquests from the Romans and Germanic people.

The first Vikings to arrive in Ireland were from the Norse or Scandinavian Countries who were out to discover new lands and create settlements. They had also settled in Scotland and, like Ireland, they began to settle within the local population. In Scotland these people became known as The Gallowglasses who would later arrive Ireland as hired mercenaries.  As said along the way of the Carruthers Path, they got paid to fight for whoever paid them the most.


The arrival of Vikings in Ireland

The first attack by the Vikings in Ireland was recorded to have happened in 795AD by Irish monks in the Annals of Ulster.  This does not mean these were the first Vikings to be in Ireland, but this was the time the educated Monks started to record it.

It is believed Rechru was referring to an attack on the monastery at Rathlin island which is located on the north eastern coast of Ireland. For the next 30 – 40 years Viking attacks on Ireland remained low with only one or two attacks each year. The Irish natives resisted such Viking attacks on a few occasions and in 811 the Ulaidh slaughtered the Vikings attempting to raid Ulster but in 823 the Vikings returned to attack and pillage Bangor, they repeated such attacks the following year.


Viking Settlements in Ireland

At first the Vikings in Ireland stayed within 20 miles of the coast unsure what lay ahead inland so they kept their attacks along the coast targeting Irish monasteries. They made more permanent settlements with their first “wintering over” located at Lough Neagh during 840 AD and 841 AD. The following year Viking settlements were established in Dublin (named Dubhlinn), Cork and Waterford (named Vadrefjord).


Between 849-852 AD saw the arrival of a new Viking, the Danes, who were named by the Irish as the dark foreigners. The more settled Vikings in Ireland, the Norse, named the new arrivals the fair foreigners and before long they both battled in the Irish Sea and Strangford Lough.


Viking attacks on Irish towns

The Vikings start their attack on IrelandIn 860 AD the Vikings of Waterford attacked the King of Israige but were slaughtered and attacks against the Vikings in Ireland increased. 6 years later the settlement longphort was destroyed and the King of Northern Uí Néill managed to rid the Vikings from Ulster. In 887AD the Connacht men slaughtered the Vikings of Limerick and by 892 AD Vikings in Wexford, Waterford and St Mullins were also slaughtered.


For the next ten years the Vikings focused their attacks elsewhere in Europe but with less opportunities they returned to Ireland in 914 AD but with a much larger force than before, Vikings of Britain also joined the attacks by sailing across the Irish Sea in their Viking ships.


After the death of Niall Glundubh in 919 AD Ulster became vulnerable with the Viking raiding Tír Conaill and Armagh. 5 years later in 924 AD over 32 ships entered Lough Foyle and the Vikings returned to Lough Erne setting up their fleets. Once again Ireland became enslaved by the over whelming power of the Vikings but would not last very long.


Irish Monasteries a target for Vikings in Ireland

Irish monasteries lacked defences from Viking attacks even though they had faced attacks from the Irish previous to the arrival of the Vikings. A new form of building was constructed known as ‘round towers’ built by stone and proved strong in defence. It had a unique feature of having only one entrance to the round tower that was at least 10ft from the ground so a ladder was needed to gain entry. Round towers can still be seen today dotted around the Irish countryside and their unique features still standing strong.


The Irish rebel against Viking invasions

An Axe used by the IrishNiall Glundubh’s son, Muircertach, took revenge in setting up attacks from his base, Grianan of Aileach in County Dongeal, which still stands today and is a perfect example of round forts in Ireland. Muircertach won victories over the Vikings in battles such in 926 AD on Strangford Lough and in Dublin in 939 AD. He went onto the Scottish Isles with his Ulster fleet attacking Viking settlements in 941 but died in Combat in 943 AD.


Brian Boru of Dál Cais became King of Munster and called himself the High King of All Ireland after his brother was killed during battle. With the help of the Uí Néill, Brian Boru slaughtered the Vikings of Dublin and was recognised as the High King in 1002.


If you cant beat them join them, just as the Vikings did


One of the main reasons the Vikings failed to take full control of the island is that they made the mistake of getting involved with Ireland’s internal affairs which seen many clans battle with each other for control of different regions. The Vikings joined forces with the clan of Leciester to defeat Brian Boru and called on forces to come to Ireland from all over the Viking Kingdom.


On Good Friday 1014 the Viking fleet arrived in Dublin bay to battle with Brian Boru. Brian’s Army consisted of his Munster army and the Limerick and Waterford Vikings, who had joined forces with Brian Boru. Although Brian was killed, at an age of 70, as he prayed in his tent for victory the Vikings were driven back to the Viking ships with many being slaughtered on the coast of Clontarf which would see Viking power in Ireland lost forever.


Although the Viking power was taken away it is well known they helped the Irish progress in terms of technology in building warships, weapons and battle tactics and also built the first towns such as Dublin, Cork and Waterford. Many Vikings still lived on in Ireland and married into Irish families which would help shape many future generations.

Viking settlement, hillside, Cork, Ireland

With the invasion of the Vikings and internal disputes the Church in Ireland was reduced and its influence abroad was dramatically smaller than previous years. Rome was quite worried that Ireland was losing touch with Christianity and the country would need reformed and disciplined yet again. Malachy of Armagh, aged 29, would be appointed Bishop of Down and Connor in the North East.

(Picture is of Viking Settlement in Cork IRE)


Time line of Vikings in Ireland

795AD – The Vikings arrived in Ireland and performed small raids

806AD – The Vikings raided Iona Abbey, all 68 occupants were killed

832AD – 120 Viking ships arrived in Ireland’s north eastern coasts

836AD – The Vikings began to attack deeper inland

841AD – Dubhlinn (Dublin) was created as a Viking settlement

856AD – The Vikings created a settlement near Cork

848AD – The Viking army are defeated in Sligo, Kildare, Cashel and Cork

850AD – The Vikings created the settlement of Waterford

851AD – Battle at Dundalk bay between Norse and Danish Vikings takes place

852AD – Armagh is destroyed by Vikings

869AD – King of Connaught defeated the Norwegian Vikings near Drogheda

902AD – The Irish attacked and drove the Vikings from Dublin into Wales

914AD – Large Viking Fleets arrived at Waterford. Settlements in Limerick and Wexford were built

915AD – The Vikings attacked Dublin and regained control from the Irish

928AD – Viking Massacre at Dunmore Cave in Kilkenny

976AD – Brian Boru becomes King of Munster

980AD – The Battle of Tara

999AD – Brian Boru defeats the Vikings

1002AD – Brian Boru becomes High King of Ireland

1005AD – Máel Mórda mac Murchada begins to rebel against Brian Boru

1014AD – Battle of Clontarf – Brian Boru & Máel Mórda mac Murchada are killed


Scotland’s Flags

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Scotland Flag and The Royal Flag of Scotland



The Flag of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: bratach na h-Alba; Scots: Banner o Scotland), also known as St Andrew’s Cross or the Saltire, is the national flag of Scotland. As the national flag, the Saltire, rather than the Royal Standard of Scotland, is the correct flag for all individuals and corporate bodies to fly. It is also, where possible, flown from Scottish Government buildings every day from 8am until sunset, with certain exceptions.

According to legend, the Christian apostle and martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross at Patras, (Patrae), in Achaea. Use of the familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, first appears in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1180 during the reign of William I. It was again depicted on seals used during the late 13th century, including on one used by the Guardians of Scotland, dated 1286.

Using a simplified symbol which does not depict St. Andrew’s image, the saltire or crux decussata, (from the Latin crux, ‘cross’, and decussis, ‘having the shape of the Roman Numeral X’), began in the late 14th century. In June 1385, the Parliament of Scotland decreed that Scottish soldiers serving in France would wear a white Saint Andrew’s Cross, both in front and behind, for identification.



The Royal Flag of Scotland is called the Royal Flag, because it is now used as the Royal Coats of Arms, but it was not always that way. If it is on a flagpole it is the Royal Flag, if it is just hanging up, it is the Royal Banner of Scotland. There was a time when Scotland had no Coats of Arms, and symbols, but they were influenced by outside countries.

We just blogged about the Beast of Gotland.  The Carruthers, then called Ashman, came to Scotland in 400 A.D.  Their arrived in boats that were beautifully carved, and their jewelry and trinkets were all decorated with their symbols.


woodcarvingWood carvingdragonpic



Their shields always lined the side of their boats with beautifully painted symbols on each one.



These same types of images can still be seen in the museums on Gotland today. They were brought to Scotland with the Ashman in 400 AD and nothing in Scotland compared to that point.

vikingstoneViking stone



Now we have what we see as the evolution of these symbols in Scotland.


Scandinavian Scotland

Scandinavian Scotland refers to the period which Vikings and Norse settlers, mainly Scandinavians, and their descendants colonized parts of what is now the periphery of modern Scotland. Viking influence in the area commenced in the late 8th century, and hostility between the Scandinavian Earls of Orkney and the emerging thalassocracy of the Kingdom of the Isles, the rulers of Ireland, Dál Riata and Alba, and intervention by the crown of Norway were recurring themes.

shetlandislandflagScandinavian Scotland Flag

Thorfinn Sigurdsson’s rule in the 11th century included expansion well into north mainland Scotland and this may have been the zenith of Scandinavian influence. The obliteration of pre-Norse names in the Hebrides and Northern Isles, and their replacement with Norse ones was almost total although the emergence of alliances with the native Gaelic speakers produced a powerful Norse-Gael culture that had wide influence in Argyll, Galloway and beyond.

An unbroken line of Norse earls of Orkney ended in 1213 AD.


balticcrussadesBaltic Crusades

1100 AD the symbol of The Golden Lion was first used in battle when the Scandinavians used it in the Baltic Crusades.

1100 AD, William the Conqueror, gave the Carruthers their colors of gold and red.  These were a universal color of heraldry.  These colors were used by many countries throughout Europe, especially in battle.


richard1Richard Coeur de Lion

Richard, Coeur de Lion, or the Lionhearted, used the symbol of the three lions or leopards, when he went off to the crusades.  He was born in England, where he spent his childhood; before becoming king, however, he lived most of his adult life in the Duchy of Aquitaine, in the southwest of France. Following his accession, he spent very little time, perhaps as little as six months, in England. When he returned to England, The Three Golden Lions were prominently displayed. The Golden Lion, alone, was used in France for centuries, where it is reasonable to see that Richard used the Three Golden Lions, now the Royal Arms of England.


ancient coat of arms lionAncient coats of arms lion

A form of these arms was used by King William the Lion in the 12th century, though no trace of them can be made out on his seal. However, a lion Ancient coats of can clearly be made out on the seal of his son, Alexander II. Over the years many writers have claimed them to be much older; even Alexander Nisbet, considered to be one of the more reliable Scottish heralds, claims that a lion was first adopted as a personal symbol by the legendary Fergus, with the royal tressure being added in the reign of Achaius.

Throughout the ages the arms passed from monarch to succeeding monarch with only slight variations in detail. In some early examples the lion holds a sword or wears a crown, and the royal tressure has sometimes been interpreted as an orle or bordure. Many of these relatively minor variations will have resulted from the individual efforts of stonemasons, weavers, artists and sculptors throughout the ages in their attempts to create a facsimile of the arms of the period, as well as mistakes and misinterpretations on the part of foreign heraldic artists.


German Knights 14th century


macedoniacoatsofarmsMacedonia Coats of Arms


In the reign of James III, the Scottish Parliament made a curious attempt to get rid of the royal tressure, passing an act stating that “the King, with the advice of the three Estates ordained that in time to come there should be no double tressure about his arms, but that he should bear whole arms of the lion without any more”. This state of affairs does not appear to have lasted very long, with James III soon re-instating the royal tressure, first without its top, and then in its original form.


When Mary, Queen of Scots, married Francis, Dauphin of France, in 1558, Mary’s Royal arms of Scotland were impaled with those of the Dauphin, whose arms were themselves quartered with those of Scotland to indicate his status as King consort of Scotland. When Francis ascended to the throne of the Kingdom of France in 1559 as King Francis II, the arms were again altered to indicate his status as King of France, with those of Mary also being altered to reflect her elevated status as Queen consort of France.


Following the death of Francis in 1560, Mary continued to use the arms showing Scotland and France impaled, (with a minor alteration of the arms to reflect her change of status from queen-consort to Queen dowager), until her marriage to Henry, Lord Darnley, in 1565. (Such symbolism was not lost upon Queen Elizabeth I of England, given that the English monarchy had for centuries held a historical claim to the throne of France, symbolized by the arms of France having been quartered with those of England since 1340). Following the marriage to Darnley, the arms of Scotland reverted to the blazon which had preceded the marriage to Francis.

Union of the Crowns

On the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1603, James VI, inherited the thrones of England and Ireland. The arms of England were quartered with those of Scotland, and a quarter for Ireland was also added. At this time the King of England also laid claim to the French throne, therefore the arms of the Kingdom of England were themselves already quartered with those of the Kingdom of France. James used a different version of his royal arms in Scotland and this distinction in royal protocol continued post the Acts of Union of 1707. (Today, the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom used in Scotland continue to differ from those used elsewhere).


During the reign of King Charles II, the royal arms used in Scotland were augmented with the inclusion of the Latin motto of the Order of the Thistle, the highest Chivalric order of the Kingdom of Scotland.

The motto of the Order of the Thistle, Nemo me impune lacessit, appears on a blue scroll overlying the compartment. (Previously, only the collar of the Order of the Thistle had appeared on the arms).


The addition by King Charles of Nemo me impune lacessit ensured that the blazon of his Royal arms used in Scotland complemented that of his Royal arms used elsewhere, in that two mottoes were displayed. The blazon used elsewhere had included the French motto of the arms, Dieu et mon droit, together with the Old French motto of the Order of the Garter, the highest Chivalric order of the Kingdom of England. The motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense, appears on a representation of the garter surrounding the shield. Henceforth, the versions of the Royal arms used in Scotland and elsewhere were to include both the motto of the arms of the respective kingdom and the motto of the associated order of chivalry.


From the accession of the Stuart dynasty to the throne of the Kingdom of Ireland in 1603, the Royal Arms have featured the harp, or Cláirseach, of Ireland in the third quadrant, the style of the harp itself having been altered several times since. The position of King of Ireland ceased with the passage by the Oireachtas of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, when the office of President of Ireland (which had been created in late 1937) replaced that of the King of Ireland for external as well as internal affairs. The Act declared that the Irish state could be described as a republic, following which the newly created Republic of Ireland left the British Commonwealth. However, the modern versions of the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland used both in Scotland and elsewhere, and also the arms of Canada, continue to feature an Irish harp to represent Northern Ireland.


Changes to the blazon of the arms

Following the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1558, the blazon of the royal arms of Scotland included elements from the arms of:

The Kingdom of France, (1559–1565)

Following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the blazon of the royal arms of Scotland included elements from the arms of:

The Kingdom of England, (1603–1707)

The Kingdom of Ireland, (1603–1707)

Following the reign of Charles II, King of Scots, the blazon of the royal arms of Scotland included upon a blue scroll overlying the compartment, the motto of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle; Nemo me impune lacessit, and elements from the arms of:

Following the Acts of Union of 1707, the blazon of the royal arms of Great Britain used in Scotland included elements from the arms of:

The Kingdom of Ireland (1707–1800)

The Electorate of Hanover, (1714–1800)

Following the Act of Union of 1800, the blazon of the royal arms of the United Kingdom used in Scotland included elements from the arms of:

The Kingdom of Hanover, (1814–1837)

Following the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the modern royal arms of the United Kingdom were adopted.




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