Known to many for his work on the ancient submerged city of Pavlopetri in Greece, underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson from The University of Nottingham took a personal journey back to his Scottish roots this summer to present a new documentary for the BBC on The Last Battle of the Vikings.
Dr Henderson, from the Department of Archaeology, is also a member of the University’s Centre for the Study of the Viking Age. In this one hour programme he examines how a few Viking war bands from the Norwegian fjords managed to establish the longest lasting Norse power base in the British Isles — and how that Viking influence reverberated through the centuries until the Battle of Largs in 1263.
The Last Battle of the Vikings will be shown this Friday, 14 December 2012, at 9pm on BBC Two in Scotland and there are plans to make the programme available on the BBC iPlayer.
Dr Henderson, who grew up close to Largs in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, said: “The Battle of Largs in 1263 was the last time Norse invaders fought on our soil — it was the final twist in a relationship that was centuries old. It may have marked the beginning of the end for Norse power in Scotland, but the Viking influence remained — part of a new nation, part of us.”
Beginning in the late 8th century dreaded Viking longships had ravaged the islands and coastline of Scotland, these early hit-and-run raids eventually developing into trade and settlement. Whole swathes of Scotland came to be dominated by Norse culture. At the same time a new Scottish kingdom emerged, in opposition to and in fear of the Vikings. Tensions between the fledgling kingdom of Scotland and the Norwegian Crown would eventually break out into full scale war; the result of which would determine the fate of Scotland.
The Battle of Largs in 1263 was the last time a Norse army fought on British soil. The battle might have ended in bloody stalemate but it marked the beginning of the end of Norse power in Scotland.
Dr Henderson’s television career began when he presented a ground-breaking one hour documentary for the BBC and Discovery Channel on his research into Pavlopetri which disappeared under the waves 2000 years ago. The programme featured movie industry computer graphics and the very latest in digital marine technology to bring the city back to life.
Image courtesy of the BBC.
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