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.
About the Author
Thomas Williams was a curator of the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend in 2014 and is now Curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum. He undertook doctoral research at University College London and has taught and lectured in history and archaeology at the University of Cambridge.
`Fresh, vivid and impeccably researched ... the most rip-roaring work of nonfiction I read this year' Tom Holland, Observer, Books of the Year
`Williams' infectiously enthusiastic book gives you everything you could want from a history of the Vikings' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times, Books of the Year
`A debut that pulses with the author's passion for his subject and his mastery of written sources, archaeology and legend. Williams narrates a complex story in enjoyable, lusty prose' Dan Jones, Sunday Times
`Viking Britain [is] an engrossing account ... Williams is scrupulous to avoid the easy pub-chat message. He writes fluently and with feeling' Thomas W. Hodgkinson, Spectator
'Williams is a master at conveying the atmosphere of Viking Britain ... We are guests at a sensory feast, at times immersed ... and at others guided by the comforting hand of firm historical evaluation. Viking Britain is a giddy ride ... a real treat' Philip Parker, Literary Review
`Williams evocative prose puts flesh on sturdy academic bones. `Viking Britain' is a pleasure to read... a lively, colourful book that explores in high definition what being a Viking really meant. Williams ... succeeds where many have failed: to make the truth about the Vikings as entertaining as the fiction' Giles Kristian, The Times
`An exemplary work of popular history, at once full of the most up-to-date archaeology and international scholarly thought, and full of the literary flourishes which bring the past most vividly to life for readers: dramatic reconstruction, physical scene-setting and authorial intervention. It is a great success' Ronald Hutton