Raiding and piracy in the North Sea before Viking Age?

Sep 2012
286
Argentina
What do you know about pirates and raiders of the North Sea before the Viking age started properly(793 AD)? Did it happen before, were there any raiders attacking the British Isles before the Vikings started wrecking havoc in EUrope? What about piracy?
 
Mar 2017
169
UK
I can't say I know a great deal, but I believe that the Irish were frequent raiders, especially in Wales, where I believe they infused with the Welsh and their dynasties, and in western Scotland (Dal Riata).
 
Sep 2012
286
Argentina
I can't say I know a great deal, but I believe that the Irish were frequent raiders, especially in Wales, where I believe they infused with the Welsh and their dynasties, and in western Scotland (Dal Riata).
But what about people from outside the British Isles, did they make incursions in the British isles?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,575
Dispargum
The Romans built extensive fortifications along the North Sea and Channel coasts to fend off raiders from Germany and Scandinavia.
 
Nov 2008
1,414
England
What do you know about pirates and raiders of the North Sea before the Viking age started properly(793 AD)? Did it happen before, were there any raiders attacking the British Isles before the Vikings started wrecking havoc in EUrope? What about piracy?
If you are able to obtain a copy read Dark Age Naval Power by John Haywood. It will tell you all you need to know.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Germanic tribes started raiding the shores of Gaul in the first century AD:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauci#Sea_raiding

They are replaced by later tribes such as the Franks and Saxons who become the most promonent of north sea germanic raiders. The Franks even established a base in North Africa. The Romans employed a Menapian, Carausius, to build a fleet to deal with the saxons and franks but he seems to have stuck a deal with the Franks, split the loot and took his fleet to Britain where he declared himself Emperor. The romans eventually regained control and the coasts of Britain and Gaul were fortified by a defence system termed the Litus Saxonicum.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxon_Shore

However, pirates from the north sea still continued to raid in Britain and in Gaul, Britain being heavily raided in 367-368, an action referred to as the barbarica conspiratio.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Conspiracy

The archaeology database has a good description of the saxon shore in Britain and in Gaul at:

Archaeology Data Service: myADS

From the gallo roman standpoint, Saxon means any germanic sea raider who is not a Frank. One description refers to Jutish Saxons raiding around the Belgic coast.


 
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Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,118
Canary Islands-Spain
In the 5th century, the Heruli were reported to be raiding western Hispania. The story, told by Hydatius, goes:

"The Heruli, transported in seven ships to the Lucensis coast (Gallaecia), suddenly sent almost four hundred men, lightly armed, that were put to flight by the people of the neighbourhood, only two of them died. In the return to their lands, they sacked the maritime areas of the Cantabrians and the Varduli"

And then in a second text:

"When they go to Baetica, the Heruli invade the Lucensis conventus with the most horrendous cruelty"
 
Last edited:
Mar 2017
13
USA
See Mason, David J.P. Roman Britain and the Roman Navy. Tempus Publishing, 2003.
ISBN 0752425412. Detailed. Illustrated.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
I can't say I know a great deal, but I believe that the Irish were frequent raiders, especially in Wales, where I believe they infused with the Welsh and their dynasties, and in western Scotland (Dal Riata).
St. Patrick (who was British) arrived in Ireland that way. He was captured by Irish pirates in a raid, and spent six years as a slave.