Episode 1: The Dark Foreigners

Filmed on location in: Norway and Ireland

Part one of a two-part docudrama series on the Vikings in Ireland. Through new discoveries in science and archaeology, this episode explores the origins of the Vikings and how they changed Ireland forever.

In 2020, archaeologists digging at Ship Street, Dublin uncovered ship’s timber and the remains of a 1100-old port. It was once part of a massive harbour where Dublin’s Vikings docked some 200 ships. At the Oslo Ship Museum in Norway we discover who the Vikings were and why they left Scandinavia to plunder far-off lands. New scientific research suggests they were driven by a powerful and unstoppable force: climate change. We learn about Viking sailing technology that enabled long distance voyages, and at the Oseberg Viking Heritage Foundation in Norway we watch modern shipbuilders construct a longship using only the tools and materials that were available to the Vikings

These swift, light ships enabled them to target rich sources of booty, the coastal monasteries of Ireland and Britain. In 795, Vikings attacked Rathlin Island off the Ulster coast. Now, geneticists at Trinity College Dublin conduct DNA analysis on 8th-century human remains found on Rathlin. They discover that they belonged to a Norwegian female, possibly a Viking wise woman or sorceress.

The Vikings continued raiding for decades to come, but around 840 they began to establish more permanent settlements. The one at Dublin fell under the control of a Viking king named Ivarr, who led a powerful contingent of Scandinavians called the Dark Foreigners. Ivarr had interests in both Ireland and Britain, and like a sort of medieval mafia, he and his descendants would dominate Viking affairs in the two islands for several generations. But in 902 the Irish won a sudden, surprise victory, and drove the Vikings into exile…

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