Following Viking traces in Dublin
  • Ireland /
  • Dublin

An itinerary that rediscovers the Viking history of Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral
Heritage place of interest.
(by Stipa Jennifer, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
(by Jowaria, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
(by Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Where Christ Church now stands was the Vikings’ place of worship in Dublin. Although the location has obviously changed over the centuries, one can still breathe in the enveloping atmosphere of the Middle Ages. It is possible to visit Ireland’s oldest crypt and avoid getting lost in the stone labyrinth.

The current structure of the cathedral dates back to 1870, but it was replaced by a much older wooden one, built at the behest of the first Viking king Sigtrygg Beard of Silk, in 1038, after his conversion to Christianity. 

Viking voyages became less and less frequent after the introduction of Christianity in Scandinavia, and the Irish Vikings adopted the local Christian faith in the late 10th and early 11th centuries.

External events then threatened Viking power. The Viking identity, predominantly characterised by the impetus of conquest, raids and discovery, had little future in terms of permanence, defence and control of conquered territories. It was thus that Viking hegemony in Ireland saw a slow decline.

This massive religious conversion was a significant shift that changed not only the lifestyle of many Vikings but also a marked change in the mentality of a large portion of the population. Many allowed themselves to surrender to the graces of the one Christian god, unlike others who retained their ‘pagan’ identity. This difference often led to clashes in the following generations between the Vikings themselves, who increasingly split into two factions, the Christian and the one based on ancient Norse mythology.

The Viking Age is conventionally considered to have ended with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 when a coalition of the English army defeated an invading Norwegian Viking force.

After the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1171, which ousted Tara Hill, Dublin became the capital of the Irish kingdom, gaining the status and rights of a city in 1172. Many colonists left England and Wales and settled in the newly conquered land, forcing the Vikings to move across the Liffey, the city’s river.

Destroyed by fire, this church was rebuilt by the Normans during their rule between 1173 and 1240. Afterwards, the cathedral was left in ruins, but thanks to a lengthy restoration in the 19th century, it can now be seen as it once was.

Christ Church Cathedral can be admired today, symbolising the evolution that the Christian faith brought to history, even in these remote lands. Therefore, this church can be seen as the end of Viking rule and the beginning of a new culture. Such an example shows us the importance of evolution in history and culture’s dominance and impact on it.


1. The origins in Dublinia

2. Wood Quay

3. The Steine

4. Curious rests

5. Christ Church Cathedral