Today I welcome Ken Hagan who writes historical fiction set in the age of the Vikings. Here, he explains how an artefact from a museum inspired his story.
Dublin was the hub of the Slave Trade in 10th Century Europe
For the Norse kings and warrior merchants of Dublin, overseas trafficking of war captives was a vital element in their seafaring economy, as was the raising of lucrative ransoms for men and women of noble Irish blood, whose families could afford the huge booties of silver and cattle demanded for their release.
A Viking Market for the Free Movement of Labour
In the latter half of the 20th century, during my university years in Trinity College, Dublin, there were a startling number of archaeological finds under the city. Excavations have since revealed the extent of the old Viking port of Linn-dubh under modern-day Dublin. From artefacts and architectural remains it is possible to imagine the context, in which a ruthless warrior class controlled the eastern estuaries of Ireland, before finally being expelled in the 11th century.
Viking Age iron slave collar found at St John’s Lane, Dublin
This cruel iron shackle is the starting point for my story, in which Kregin, a young Ostman sentenced to exile from Iceland for manslaughter, becomes a luckless captive, a slave on the black river isle of Inis-dubh, awaiting shipment overseas.
Kregin and the daughter of an Irish Chieftain, a young child, whom he befriends on the isle of slaves, plan an escape by sea. Their bid for freedom ends in failure. They are re-captured as war looms between Irish clans and their Viking invaders.
This horrifying reality was the historical setting chosen for Forged in Blood, ‘Warrior in Exile’, Book 2 of my trilogy, Viking Odyssey.
More about Viking Slaves can be found in this National Geographic Article here
Did you know?
A ‘thrall’ is a slave or serf in the Viking Age. Thrall is from the Old Norse word praell, meaning a person who is in bondage or serfdom. The Old Norse term was lent into late Old English, as þræl. The English derivation thraldom dates from medieval times, and so the verb “to enthrall” means literally to enslave.
So an enthralling book is one which holds you in bondage!