Friends of Somerset Museum

RAPE, pillage and plunder! These are the three words that most people would use to describe the Vikings in Britain.

However, Derek Gore, Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter, held a large audience of Friends of The Museum of Somerset and their guests captivated as he described evidence for possible settlement by Vikings in the south-west of Britain.

By citing evidence from both the written and the archaeological record, Derek explained how seaborne warriors from Scandinavia penetrated this region and raided ports, monasteries and royal sites in search of portable treasure such as silver, gold and slaves.

Ransoms and tribute were paid, but some of the leaders had political ambitions and wished to wield power in England; they did this by settling here and becoming the dominant landowners, eventually mingling with the local population.

Lundy, the island of puffins, and Spaxton, Spakr’s settlement, are both examples of Viking place names.

The ever-growing data-base of metal-detectorists finds catalogued by the Finds Liaison Officers of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme continues to contribute exciting evidence for Viking activity in the south west.

The next meeting of the Friends of the Museum of Somerset will be the AGM on February 21, which will be followed by the annual Museum of Somerset Lecture, given this year by the museum director, Steve Minnitt.

Guests are welcome to attend. Please see the Friends’ website at for details of further events.