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Countrystride #90: The VIKINGS in Cumbria which we are joined by archaeologist Steve Dickinson in Gosforth to seek out the lost Norse kingdom of 'Laithlinn'. Embarking from the infamous Viking Cross – where Steve guides us through a series of remarkable carvings – we set out on an autumnal wander over the meadows to Irton, and a second iconic cross. As we walk – down quiet bylines, and over a busy Irt and Bleng – we consider signs in the landscape; in names, in landforms, beneath our feet; that paint a dazzling picture of 1,000 years ago, and a thriving, if violent, kingdom based around a people who arrived from across the Irish sea, beached their boats and then settled their Herdwicks and slaves around a huge longhall overlooked by their fading Gods on Scafell and Great Gable.

The Wasdale Fells from above Stock Bridge over the Irt, approaching St Paul's, Irton. Trees and pastures a scene that will have been familiar to the Viking settlers.

Dave with our guest for the day, Steve Dickinson, at the Gosforth Cross.

The Gosforth Cross.

The two hogback memorial stones in Gosforth Church.

Steve, left, with Dave.

The reconstructed 80m long hall at Borg, Lofoten, Norway. This gives a good idea of how the hall near Gosforth would have appeared when it was first built.

Satellite image of the mega-hall site near Gosforth and its associated enclosure and approach route way.

The River Irt.

Mark and Steve at the Irton Cross.


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