A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.
Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.
The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.
Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough.
They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired.
It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh.
Although eventually abandoned as a port due to poor tides and a shallow bay, Linn Duachaill was also a large trading town as the Vikings exported Irish slaves and looted goods.
Experts have been blown away by the find on farmland in the small village.
Louth County Museum curator Brian Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “This site is mind-blowing. It is untouched, there is no motorway going through it and it is basically virgin territory. It has been husbanded and farmed for the last few hundred years and is unspoilt.
“It is one of the most important sites of its kind in the world, not just Europe.”
Dr Ned Kelly, keeper of antiquities at the National Museum, has also spoken of the importance of the Louth discovery.
“This site is intact; it has not been trashed by a road and is a greenfield site,” said Dr Kelly.
“Linn Duachaill is enormously important because it is of the very earliest period of Viking settlement in Ireland. It was founded in 841 and the Annals of Ulster tell us it was used over the next 50 years continuously.
“Radio-carbon dating has conclusively shown we are dealing with a site of early Viking age. It is exactly what we thought it was and it is of such significance that an international conference is being held to discuss it.”
Artifacts from the site are to go on display at a conference in Dundalk later this month.
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