March 13, 2009

Research: Vikings, early Brits peaceful

Historians attending a conference in England say the Vikings that first settled in Britain and Ireland may have been better neighbors than previously thought.

Experts at the three-day University of Cambridge conference, which began Friday, said recent evidence suggests that many of the Norse Vikings who arrived in Britain and Ireland starting about 1,200 years ago lived in peace with Anglo-Saxons and Celts and often traded ideas with the natives, The Times of London reported Friday.

The latest evidence does not point to a simple opposition between 'Vikings' and 'natives', said Fiona Edmonds, of the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the university. Within a relatively short space of time -- and with lasting effect -- the various cultures in Britain and Ireland started to intermingle. Investigating that process provides us with a historical model of how political groups can be absorbed into complex societies, contributing much to those societies in the process. There are important lessons that can be gained from this about cultural assimilation in the modern era.

The researchers said the evidence comes from new archaeological sites, historical studies and examination of the language and literature of the time period.