By 820, the marauding tactics of the Vikings shifted from their initial rapid raids to progressive penetration into the heart of Ireland via the island’s highly navigable rivers. No longer content with allowing Ireland seasons of respite, the Vikings were continuing their foraying expeditions throughout the year from temporary encampments, commonly called longphorts. This paper will examine the evidence provided by various contemporary annals and utilize current archaeological thought in an attempt to delineate the landscape of these transient sites, additionally arguing for further research in order to explore possible raiding patterns and theorize on the longphort’s roll in Viking settlement.
With reference to Scandinavian annals, contemporary Icelandic-Norwegian and Danish literature and images, this paper will look at the changes in the nature of warfare and the organisation of military forces in Scandinavia during the High Middle Ages. Although an increased need for defence and a general increase in central authority led to the development of systems for raising forces internally which were ultimately transformed into relief taxes, paralleling developments in other European kingdoms, it will be argued that Scandinavian warfare differed in character from that in western Europere until the late 13th century. Strategy was not determined by the existence of fortifications and it was the custom to determine the issue on the battlefield much more often. Nor were noble opponents treated with the same leniency as they were further south.
Through amphibious warfare the Danes suceeded in combining the Western European knightly cavalry with the Vikings’ coastal raiding tactics. After 25 years of warfare against the Wends the Danes mastered this combined arms warfare probably better than anyone else in Europe. This amphibious warfare played an important part in the Danish conquests of Rügen and Pommerania and in making Denmark the dominating power in Northern Europe in the beginnning of the 13th century.