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The Identity and International Relations of Orkney and Dublin in the long Eleventh Century



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Ellis, Caitlin 


This thesis investigates the concept of ‘diaspora’ as it applies to the Scandinavian settlements of Orkney and Dublin in the eleventh century. Comparative analysis identifies how key differences in the settlements’ location and make-up affected their dynamic, and even opportunistic, set of relationships with their Scandinavian ‘homelands’ and with their Insular neighbours. Drawing on archaeological and written evidence, and adopting an interdisciplinary approach, produces a more sophisticated and holistic examination of Orkney and Dublin’s political, ecclesiastical, economic, and cultural connections, while helping to reveal when our source information is concentrated in a particular area, or lacking in another. As regards politics in Chapter One, Norwegian kings were only occasionally able to exert control over Orkney, but Scandinavia had even less direct political influence on Dublin. In the ecclesiastical sphere, explored in Chapter Two, it is shown that Dublin was the site of various cults but often looked to England for episcopal matters, while Orkney was influenced by both Scandinavia and northern Britain. Turning to economics in Chapter Three, little evidence of direct trade between the international commercial hub of Dublin and Scandinavia can be found, whereas Orkney’s very location guaranteed economic interaction with Norway. When it comes to cultural matters in Chapter Four, it is argued that a hybrid urban identity may have been more significant and more prevalent than a Scandinavian one in Dublin. Unlike Dublin, Orkney remained, in many respects, on a cultural axis that stretched from Norway to Iceland. The definitions of ‘diaspora’ set out by Lesley Abrams and Judith Jesch in relation to Scandinavian settlements abroad are used as a point of reference. The findings of this thesis suggest that ‘diaspora’ is not a one-size-fits-all label, as diasporic features were not always transmitted directly in a straightforward fashion. Some Scandinavian features may have reached Dublin via England, with which it had strong connections. Even if Orcadians and Dubliners were aware of their shared Scandinavian heritage, this does not seem to have played a particularly important part in their foreign policy and decision-making. Being part of a diaspora does not necessarily mean that this was their primary affiliation.





Rowe, Elizabeth


Vikings, Scotland, Ireland, medieval, Britain, Scandinavia


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge School of Arts and Humanities Doctoral Award