- 03/12/2020 at 20:59 #147859
Hi, I’m looking for some reading material to help me understand the Dark Age period of Europe. Something that will give me a greater sense of these Saga factions and their world.
Thanks for your suggestions!04/12/2020 at 00:31 #147862Mike HeaddenParticipant
Not a cheap option at 26.99 on Amazon but Ian Heath’s “Armies of the Dark Ages” is a useful resource.
OSPREY have a number of titles covering the Dark Ages, mostly under a tenner. Well under a tenner often, if second hand. The more general ones are
Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars: Anglo-Celtic Warfare, A.D.410-1066: 154 (Men-at-Arms) by Dr David Nicolle and Angus McBride
Saxon, Viking and Norman (Men-at-Arms Series: 85) by Terence Wise , Martin Windrow, et al.
I’m sure others will chime in with more suggestions.
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!04/12/2020 at 02:17 #147863
Thanks, Mike!04/12/2020 at 04:57 #147865LogainParticipant
I’d start with Egil’s Saga, and The Longships. Read them before or along side Mike’s suggestions.04/12/2020 at 05:45 #147866ian pillayParticipant
Ian Heaths book is good. If you can find a copy Dan Mersey’s Glutter of Ravens rules has lots of background to the Dark Ages.
Tally-Ho!04/12/2020 at 06:27 #147867Geof DowntonParticipant
…and I’d have to agree with Ian’s recommendation of Glutter of Ravens.
One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:1104/12/2020 at 09:37 #147874Guy FarrishParticipant
Michael Wood’s ‘In Search of the Dark Ages’
Book – cheap on ABE or if you must Amazon
Several episodes of the documentary TV series on You Tube and I believe the two series are now available on dvd.
40 years old now but as an intro great – then read the sagas.04/12/2020 at 14:43 #147885RuarighParticipant
For understanding the factions, I would be inclined to go with Guy Halsall’s Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450-900 and his Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West. Warfare and Society, in particular, looks at how worldview affects approaches to warfare and perceptions of the way others make war.
Judith Jesch’s The Viking Diaspora offers a sense of the movements of the Vikings, although it is more about people and settlers rather than warfare. For Vikings more generally, The Viking World edited by Stefan Brink and Neil Price is a doorstop of a book that provides overviews of lots of Viking culture-related topics. Vikings: Raids. Culture. Legacy. by Marjolein Stern and me is a more general history that might also be of interest. For a short read on the Vikings, The Vikings by Sæbjorg Walaker Nordeide is a good option.
Hope this helps.04/12/2020 at 18:14 #147893
Oh, you are really giving me some interesting choices, here.
I recall my earliest interests in ancient Rome as a teenager and just heading to the bookstore to see what they had. With virtual bookstores now offering an overwhelming selection, it’s even harder to find a starting point with a new period of history.
This is so helpful. Thank you.05/12/2020 at 22:02 #147917LogainParticipant
Seriously the historical accounts recorded in the Icelandic Sagas are where to start. There are a lot of great books that are purely historical, as mentioned above, but they tend to focus on the big picture. “Saga” is all about small skirmishes and there is nothing that will give you a better picture of the lives, conflicts and motivations of the small groups of men that skirmished in the dark ages of Northern Europe. Egil’s Saga is perhaps the most popular/approachable but many of them are very good. The Longships is historical fiction written in the style of the Sagas and gives a broader view of the Vikings interactions with other parts of the world. If you were going to play big battles I would recommend something else… but there is a reason they named the game “Saga“07/12/2020 at 07:13 #147937
Will definitely check them out.07/12/2020 at 10:41 #147954Mike HeaddenParticipant
The sagas are great for inspiration and for scenario ideas but they are not history, though they are based on it. They are fiction and propaganda.
If you want to understand the factions, their differences and similarities, their relationship to each other, their strengths and weaknesses you need something less parochial and less partisan. That’s not to say they aren’t worth reading, they are great stories and full of little details you’ll never get from the broader brush histories.
I’ll offer up The Saga of Burnt Njal as a follow up to Egil’s Saga. A tale of minor slights evolving into bloody vendetta.
Some other suggestions:
English Heritage Book of Viking Age England (English Heritage) Hardcover – Illustrated, 5 Oct. 1991 by Julian D. Richards
Anglo Saxon England (English Heritage) Hardcover – 5 Jun. 1992 by Martin G. Welch
Book of Norman England: An Archaeological Perspective on the Norman Conquest (English Heritage) Paperback – 5 Nov. 1997 by Trevor Rowley
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!09/12/2020 at 16:45 #148089
Thanks, Mike. These look like great suggestions!15/12/2020 at 09:27 #148301
I would also check out a number of online blogs. Jonathan Jarrett’s A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe is highly regarded and has links to many other sites such as Tim Clarkson’s Senchus which specialises in early medieval Scotland and north Britain. Not reading but don’t overlook the TV series, The Vikings and The Last Kingdom; both employ respected historians as advisers.15/12/2020 at 10:16 #148312RuarighParticipant
Not reading but don’t overlook the TV series, The Vikings and The Last Kingdom; both employ respected historians as advisers.
The Real Vikings, which was produced as a historical annex to Vikings is worth a watch. Howard Williams has written some good stuff on his ArchaeoDeath blog about Vikings and The Last Kingdom that gives a sense of the early medieval period, although mainly relating to burial practices.15/12/2020 at 11:58 #148315
Thanks, Ruarigh. A source I didn’t mention because I’m not sure of availability is the series of 13 essays published by Oxford University in 1989 under the title Weapons and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. S.C.Hawkes. There is lots of good stuff in this and it should be available from a decent library.15/12/2020 at 19:48 #148332
My wife surprised me with a copy of The Timetraveller’s Guide to Saxon and Viking London, which is a fun book.18/12/2020 at 07:33 #148460
The OE Poem, The Battle of Maldon, portrays an encounter between the Saxon fyrd and a Viking force which was fought in 991. It gives an insight into a variety of things, the relationships of lords to retainers, the potential use of ransom to buy off invaders, the use of horses in battle and how weapons, bows, spears, swords and shields were used.04/01/2021 at 15:54 #149044
Oh that seems interesting! Thank you!04/01/2021 at 17:11 #149047Not Connard SageParticipant
Not a cheap option at 26.99 on Amazon but Ian Heath’s “Armies of the Dark Ages” is a useful resource. OSPREY have a number of titles covering the Dark Ages, mostly under a tenner. Well under a tenner often, if second hand. The more general ones are Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars: Anglo-Celtic Warfare, A.D.410-1066: 154 (Men-at-Arms) by Dr David Nicolle and Angus McBride Saxon, Viking and Norman (Men-at-Arms Series: 85) by Terence Wise , Martin Windrow, et al. I’m sure others will chime in with more suggestions.
27 quid is expensive for Armies of the Dark Ages. It’s 40 years old and hasn’t worn well. Ditto Terry Wise’s (bless him) Osprey. I have both, bought when first published. I am an old git 🙂
I,Personnaly, I’d go for Ruarigh’s suggestions.
There’s Neil Oliver’s TV series too, guess what it’s called 😉
"I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."05/01/2021 at 20:51 #149111
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