Heard Ten Papers

Began the day with a solid English breakfast, then a walk to the conference venue, heard ten paper presentations, did one myself, had dinner with colleagues, walked up the hill west of Kirkwall, logged a geocache, walked back to B&B. Phew!

Of today’s papers I found particularly interesting the one by con organiser James Barrett, on what caused the nearly three centuries of Viking raids. Eminently sensibly argued, for instance, that anything causing those events must be shown to have existed at or before the first raid. Also, anything that had existed long before the period started cannot explain why the raids began at that exact point in time. Barrett’s paper will be published in Antiquity.

Gotta close the blinds tonight, awoke at five this morning.


  1. #1 Janne
    June 1, 2008

    Just to quibble a bit – and without even having seen the paper or know anything about the actual argument – you could have a cause that existed long before, but due to the lack of some enabling technology, lack of knowledge, societal restrictions or some such, the raids could not actually begin until the impediment was removed.

  2. #2 PhysioProf
    June 1, 2008

    Dude, you’ve been blogging about being at this meeting: talking, listening, eating, enjoying the scenery, walking, etc. What about some fucking drinking!?!?

  3. #3 Lassi Hippeläinen
    June 2, 2008

    “…what caused the nearly three centuries of Viking raids.”

    You could also ask “what enabled the nearly three centuries of Viking raids?”

    In the field of engineering, at least two things: seaworthy ships, and means of navigation at high seas. When they raided Lindisfarne in 793, they came from the North, via Shetland.

    The Vikings didn’t have magnetic compasses, but they did have a kind of solar compass. The details are still uncertain. I’d also like to hear where and why the first seaworthy ships were built. Maybe to make a shortcut across Skagerrak?

  4. #4 Mathias
    June 2, 2008

    But seaworthy ships had been around earlier as well. At least as early as the Vendel period (Sutton Hoo!). The Nydam boat (that would be Roman Iron age in Scandy terminology? Anyway, around 300 AD) could probably be described as seaworthy as well, although it didn’t have a mast for sails.

  5. #5 Martin R
    June 2, 2008

    Barrett covered both enabling and restricting factors. You don’t need a sail to raid successfully in western Europe.

    PP, I drink only tea. As for fucking, my lovely wife stayed at home, so no such luck.

  6. #6 Dennis
    June 2, 2008

    Martin: Vet du vad som hänt med VoF:s hemsida? Jag skulle segla in där men möttes av budskapet “This site has been suspended.” Hörde talas om något serverbyte, men det här verkar vara något annat.

  7. #7 Dennis
    June 2, 2008

    Nu är den i alla fall tillbaka, så jag kan få min dagliga fix.

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