Anyone who has watched on television (or perhaps seen in the old Plaza cinema) the 1958 film “The Vikings”, which starred and was produced by Kirk Douglas, father–in-law of Swansea’s Catherine Zeta Jones, will envisage Vikings as Norse seafarers intent on plunder and pillage. The word “Viking” comes from an Old English word meaning pirate, though there is no evidence that they wore horned helmets. According to legend, Vikings destroyed St Cenydd’s hermitage in Llangennith in the year 986. Yet prior to the Norman conquest Norsemen were often engaged in more peaceful activities, setting up trading settlements from their Irish bases at Wexford and Dublin across the Irish Sea to South Wales. That could have been how
The Welsh name Abertawe meaning “mouth of the river Tawe” is an accurate description of the town, for that was the attraction for a settlement. The English name
Some Viking artefacts have been uncovered – in 1949 Minchin Hole below Pennard car park provided the earliest find of any post-Roman currency in
In 1993 artist Mark Mumford envisaged an immense statue of Sweyn, about 150 feet high, rivalling
If we move away from images of a warlike Viking (Kirk Douglas wearing a horned helmet), perhaps we can imagine Norse seafarers seeking a trading post at the mouth of a navigable river. In the absence of conclusive proof, former City Archivist Dr John Alban, County Archivist of Norfolk, stated, “I am still of the opinion that there was a Viking settlement at Swansea”.