Vikings in Ireland
At the end of the eighth century sea-faring warriors from the North of Europe began to spread out in search of lootable wealth and new lands to settle in. A shortage of land in Scandinavia meant that many men there were looking for opportunities in other lands. The Vikings came to Ireland first as raiders attacking monasteries and carrying off precious items such as illuminated manuscripts or gold chalices, but later many settled in the island and had an important impact on Irish life.
The Vikings are not always remembered as an important influence in Irish history but they brought innovations such as coinage and created the towns at Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick. Their early attacks also prompted monasteries to find ways to defend themselves. Some built round towers to escape from their attackers, and some of these towers can still be seen in Ireland today. Other monasteries moved away from their coastal locations to inland sites which they considered to be safer.
The Vikings brought many changes to Ireland, both positive and negative. It seems strange now perhaps, but for more than two centuries the greatest external threat to the people of Ireland was these bands of fierce sea-going warriors.
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