Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

March 30, 2010

The secret 20th Century invasion of the Vikings

Posted by : Michael Lund
Author Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell

British author Cressida Cowell may know a thing or two about dragons but her knowledge of Vikings might need a little updating.

Her series of children's books are the basis for the new 3D animated blockbuster How to Train Your Dragon.

It's a fascinating movie that's entertaining for all ages and I confess I shed a tear or two towards the end when I went to a preview screening in Brisbane recently.

(Still puzzled though by the Scottish accents on those Vikings.)

Keen to know more about the movie's origins I was directed towards Cowell's website and information on her series of books on dragons and Vikings.

There I plunged into the Frequently Asked Questions and found this amusing entry:

When did the Vikings invade Britain?

When did the Vikings invade Britain?

Now I'm no expert on Vikings - and a half century ago is still just a few years before I was born in the UK - but I don't recall my parents ever telling me tales of what life was like when the Vikings invaded Britain.

Nor do I recall any of my Scottish friends telling me tales of Viking settlements on the Western Isles of Scotland in the mid 20th Century.

Surely such news would have made great headlines in the British media but a search of the BBC's excellent website finds no results for Viking invasions of Britain in the 1950s or 1960s.

The public sector broadcaster does have a great website on British history and the section on Britain from 1945 onwards makes no mention of any Viking invasion.

Where the Vikings do crop up on the website is in the ancient history section with a series of raids that began at the end of the eighth century AD.

BBC's ancient history of the Vikings

BBC's ancient history of the Vikings

Read on and we discover the reign of the Vikings actually extended from about 800 through to 1066 and the Norman invasion.

A half century ago? More like a 1,000 years ago, give or take a full century.

Cowell may well have spent time as a child on an un-named Scottish island, staring out to sea but neither she nor anyone else at the time would ever have seen the sails of a genuine Viking ship appear on the horizon.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.