The Baltic Post is back, but with a difference…

The Oseberg longship in the Vikingskiphuset, Oslo.Image by © Christophe Boisvieux/Corbis

The Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings and the Norman Conquest of Britain, how three migrant peoples came to form modern England

The theme of the Post now focusses on the period of the ‘Early-Middle Ages’, what is sometimes (somewhat misleadingly) called the ‘Dark Ages’, this period spans from the invasion of Britain by the Saxon’s in approximately 449AD, to the Invasion of Britain by William Duke of Normandy in 1066. Within that period, we will explore the invasion of Britain by the Vikings in 793AD at Lindisfarne and the eventual coming together of the three cultures at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

We will be combining historical facts with fiction. In particular, the popular History channel TV series ‘Vikings’ will be referenced, as will Bernard Cornwell’s brilliantly adapted series ‘The Last Kingdom’.

Finally, I will be challenging my skills by making a wooden replica of a Viking Longship, a project that I will post step-by-step on this site, and I hope that you will follow along for some entertainment and moral support.

I live right in the middle of ‘The Last Kingdom’, that is King Alfred the Great’s Kingdom of Wessex. I shall be exploring the surrounding area, visiting various sites where the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons clashed, and recording, photographing and posting my findings. We will look at the Battle’s of Portland. Ethandune, Ashdown and many more. In addition, we will explore characters such as Alfred, the Great Saxon king, Guthrum, brothers Ivar the Boneless, Ubba, and Halfdan Ragnarsson, to mention just a few.

I hope you enjoy this journey through a period that shaped a nation.

Thank you as always for your support,

Rich Reynolds.


hleomæg wesiKs

27 thoughts on “The Baltic Post is back, but with a difference…”

    1. Thank you GP. I thought that a new and exciting direction would be good for me. I feel inspired by this subject. Typically, like many people, when you live right in the middle of wonderful historical sites, they tend to pass you by. We spend a lot of time visiting wonderful sites abroad when there are gems right on our doorsteps. Thank you for your support my friend.

  1. I love a range of history, so this looks like fun.
    I had a medieval history professor in college once tell me “Dark Ages” was appropriate for a period where we have very poor written history. Apart from what the monks were writing about all we really have are some inventories and business documents. Its a dramatic drop off from the Romans and Greek who liked to write about every little thing they did. So history of the era is very patchwork and leans heavily on archaeology. But then that’s also part of the fun of it; trying to integrate patchy writing, archaeological findings and pure guesswork.
    Of course there’s also the alternative definition, the Dark Ages is 500 years where Europe didn’t take a bath…

    I will miss the news updates, but this is a fun sort of different!

    1. Thank you for your kind support Dave. I guess you have to go with your passion, just like GP said. I figure that it is better to write from the heart and share that enthusiasm than get bogged down writing for the sake of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love 20-21st century military history, but I needed a new direction. I hope you drop by from time to time, it would be great to see you. Thanks Dave.

      1. Absolutely, I’ve actually read a fair amount about “Arthur’s Britain” and the period in general. So this isn’t so far astray for me.

      2. I hope you enjoy the site Dave. I will be building a 1/72 Viking Longship shortly. It will be a new challenge building in wood. I’ll do it step-by-step and post each stage as it goes along. I’m quite excited about starting a new subject in a completely new medium.

      1. I have been an ‘armchair historian’ for most of my life. Nearly all wars and strife is due to the Church. Be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim… the list goes on. Just after the Dark Ages the Crusades began. Again. not our proudest moment.

      2. I can’t disagree there. Why does it so often seem to come back to those three cousins, though? I haven’t heard of nearly so much violence commuted in the name of region as with the Abrahamic faiths.

  2. One of my favorite periods in history. The “Dark Ages” were really all that dark, just not documented as much. There was a lot of innovation in architecture and a surprising amount of travel and trade. So many people seem to think that during this period people just sat in place like rocks. I’m looking forward to your new direction and your Longship build. Do love the modern stuff but without the ancient there is no modern.

    1. I agree. the Dark Ages’ is extremely misleading. There were many innovations in the early Middle Ages; the heavy plough, the hour glass, tidal water mills, the blast furnace, eye glasses, the mechanical clock, the spinning wheel, and the printing press to name a few. I want to ‘enlighten’ the period. It was a great period of cooperation, where nation states were formed that still exist today, law and justice was introduced and through sea-faring trade, great innovations from other nations were adopted for the advancement of society. It wasn’t all good by any means, however, I hope to surprise readers by demonstrating that the peoples of this fascinating period were innovative thinkers who shaped the world in which we live. Thank you for your comment.

  3. A lot of commitments lately have kept me from my blog reading, but I’m definitely looking forward to diving into these.

    Just finished Kenneth Harl’s lecture series on the Vikings. As he said, it’s hard to imagine European history without them given all they changed.

    1. I decided to change the whole blog and focus on my passion. The Vikings influenced who we are in a profound way. They were also implicitly linked to the Anglo-Saxons and the Norman’s. It is a fascinating period of history, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope I do it Justice!

  4. Good to see you back Rich, good luck with he new endeavour I hope you enjoy it, it sounds a great idea. Oddly enough we study the Vikings at school so I’ll be following with great interest (I might even ‘nick’ the odd bit for lessons!).

    1. Haha, Andy, you are welcome to use whatever you need my friend – no need to ask. I decided it was time for a change and to focus on a long-held passion of mine. I hope I do it justice! Thank you for the support my friend.

  5. Oooh! I’m excited to see what you will write. I am completely obsessed with Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series. Not too impressed with the show, but the books are usually better than the films. Vikings is a little too ridiculous for my taste, though. It must be wonderful to be living right there where history was made!

    1. I really enjoyed reading the last kingdom, the Pagan Lord and The empty throne. I agree with you completely, there is something so rich about reading a book, you become immersed and encapsulated by the story. I came across Bernard Cornwell through his ‘Sharpe’ series, the through his Starbuck series about the American civil war. As for the TV series, I confess, I quite liked it! Oh man, does that make me a bad person?? Even so, your site is quite simply amazing. You have a keen intellect and I enjoy your work very much. That’s the beauty of blogging isn’t it? You find kindred spirits and inspiration. You are definitely an inspiration.

      1. True, books give you so much more detail, which is more satisfying to my overactive mind. I never even knew who Bernard Cornwell was until about three years ago, when I found the first Last Kingdom book at the library. I needed something new to read, and didn’t know what, and found that. Unfortunately, I haven’t read any of his other works. My dad is pretty fascinated by the civil war, so I bought him the first book of the Starbuck series. How is that, btw?
        I have mixed feelings about the TV series. On the one hand, they did a decent enough job of casting and trying to stick to the story. My biggest complaint is the seemingly low budget look of it. I was expecting something big, where they go all out on producing it, and then it’s a disappointment, particularly with the battle scenes. I was so looking forward to some freaking amazing battles! 😄 I know, I’m a nerd! I’ll still buy the second season, though. Lol!
        It’s so funny to hear anyone refer to my intellect as keen! I feel like I have a mind like Swiss cheese, and my memory is none too reliable. Add to that my chaotic nature, and it’s a recipe for disaster. 😂

  6. I am certainly a nerd! I found the Starbuck series to be very well written. Cornwell has the ability to take you right to the scene of the action, you can feel the sun on your face, your heart racing and the smell of cordite in the air.

    I can understand your feelings about the battle scenes in the last kingdom. Unfortunately, armies of the period were very small (especially when compared with the Napoleonic period), The ‘Great Heathen Army’ which swept through the English Kingdom’s in 865 was said to be somewhere between as few a 35 men, but most likely 1000 men, (scholars can’t agree on the exact number because the figures provided in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle cannot be verified). This may have provided some of the limitations that you referred to, but I felt that the choreography let it down at times.

    By comparison, the total size of Napoleon’s army in June 1815 was 300,000 men. 100,000 took part in the Battle of Waterloo.

    I hope you enjoy the ‘Starbuck Chronicles’. They are very different to the Last Kingdom series – so please don’t be disappointed if it isn’t your cup of tea!

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