A Brief History of Birmingham

The Vikings

800 - 1066


The climate gradually warmed up to c1000 AD and the early Medieval Warm Period lasted for over two centuries. It was partly responsible for the expansion of the Vikings, in that areas once under ice such as Greenland and Iceland were now open to settlement. Even North America was accessible.


From the 790s AD small Viking armies began to make annual raids on Britain. After 870 the Viking Great Army was resident in England and during the summer months moved around the country at will. By the 870s England was divided along Watling Street (A5), north and east of which was the Danelaw, south and west of which was English Mercia and Wessex.


There is no known evidence of Vikings in Birmingham. However, on two occasions the Viking Great Army is known to have passed nearby, travelling from Shoeburyness in Essex to Buttington in Shropshire in 893, and from the River Lea north of London to Bridgnorth in Shropshire in 895. Their route very likely took them along Watling Street, the modern A5 which passes through Fazeley near Tamworth.