Author(s): Thomas Williams
Viking Britain author Thomas Williams returns with a brief history of the interaction between the Vikings and the British to tell the story of the occupation of London. Nowhere in England suffered more Viking aggression than London. Between 842 and 1016, the city was subjected to serious assault on at least a dozen separate occasions. Sometimes, she burned and sometimes she surrendered, mostly she stood firm when all others had given up hope; and throughout it all she endured, remaking and remodelling herself, growing strong in adversity, unique in economic power, a crucible of cultures, enterprise and political intrigue: a maker of kings, and - ultimately - their capital. London is a city of spectres, of ghosts walking in the footsteps of other ghosts, and the Viking Age is perhaps its most forgotten shadowland. Memories shimmer through the alluvium and radiate through the pores of Museum collections, street names and stories. Viking London is a short book of the hidden history, archaeology and folklore of London in the Viking Age and its echoes through history. The narrative history that can be told is limited, and this book is, therefore, unorthodox and digressive in its structure and its layering of voices, impressions and characters, stories, objects and buildings. Thomas Williams treats the city as a living, breathing entity, one peopled with individuals shaped and warped by the forces that the urban environment exerts on its inhabitants. In this case, however, it is the forgotten ghosts of the Viking Age that provide the gravitational force - the shaping and distorting mass at the city's heart.