Quest for answers to Viking past

Photo: Reuters/Cordon Press
VIKING MARAUDERS: Catoira festival re-enacts Spain’s Viking past

SPAIN is hardly renowned for its links to fearsome Viking warriors, but a chance discovery has put a Spanish archaeologist on the trail of ancient Scandinavian raiders in her home country.

Dr Irene Garcia Losquiño of the University of Aberdeen is preparing a dig in spring in the Galicia region, where a storm uncovered a set of anchors from Viking longships. Although there are written accounts of Viking raids in northern Spain, archaeologically speaking the Iberian peninsula has been a barren hunting ground for Viking experts. Each year, however, locals in the Galician area of Catoira hold a Viking festival where they stage a re-enactment of the Viking raids that occurred 1,000 years ago.

Dr Garcia Losquiño thinks that she may be able to uncover rare archaeological evidence of a Viking presence in Spain. “On the beach where the anchors were found was a big mound which locals thought might have been a motte-and-bailey construction, which was used by the later Vikings in France,” Dr Garcia Losquiño told The Herald Scotland.


“But with the help of a geographer using tomography we now think this was a ‘longphort,’ a Viking construction only found in Ireland during the early Viking age, and very similar to English Viking camps, where they would winter, after taking over the harbour.”

The Spanish archaeologist is planning a spring dig in Galicia and also in Seville, where a Norse war-band was said to be active in the area for three years. Some of the Spanish sites are marshlands, with perfect conditions for preserving ancient treasures.

“Internationally, there is only a vague knowledge that the Vikings went there,” said Dr Garcia Losquiño. “They visited the area from around 840 until the 11th century but there is no realisation that there is this vast history to be explored.”

The series of archaeological digs could throw new light on Spain’s Viking past.


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