Tour 3 – Viking, Gael - and
a Man of Mystery
Is acher in gaith in-nocht,
Fo-fúasna fairrge findfholt;
Ni águsr réimm mora mind
Dond laechraid lainn ó Lothlind.
THE EARLY raids of the Vikings from 800 AD, severely damaged the extensive network of monastic communities and subjected them to savage looting and murder. However, the big picture is far more complicated and this tour will look at the profound legacy of the Scandinavians on Scotland.
In these troubled times of raids all round Scotland’s coasts, a man of mystery emerged – Macbeth. Dramatised by Shakespeare, who was the real man behind the myth and why was he important in Scotland’s sense of itself and nation? How was his kingship aligned with Pictish traditions, about whom we know so little, aside from their superb sculpture?
We’ll look closely at their workmanship and their relations with the embryonic Gaelic kingdom where hybrid, but sophisticated Scandinavian communities were developing, communities which held the seeds of the genesis of the Lordship of the Isles.
Visits will be made to the great fortresses of the western frontier of the early Scottish kingdom of the 10th and 11th century including Urquhart Castle and Eilean Donan. We’ll look at some of the early church treasures such those recovered from St Ninian's Isle in Shetland now held in the Museum of Scotland, at the same time exploring samples of the warrior culture brought by the Viking raiders.
Many place names in Scotland are of Norse origin, and the tour will explain how these can help to identify the spheres of influence introduced by the Scandinavians, and the boundaries between them and the Scots themselves.
Since tonight the wind is high,
The sea's white mane a fury,
I need not fear the hordes of Hell *
Coursing the Irish Channel.
* Here the monk is referring to Norwegians