Were Denmark’s Vikings economic migrants to the UK?

As many as 35,000 Danish Vikings moved to England to start a new life between 800AD and 900AD, a new study has estimated, with the researcher likening them to economic migrants today.

Were Denmark's Vikings economic migrants to the UK?
The Danish vikings first came as looters. Photo: Visit Denmark
The study, published in the journal Antiquity, contradicts the ‘People of the British Isles’ project, which used DNA evidence to argue that there was “no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation“. 
Jane Kershaw, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London, used her knowledge of the archeological evidence for Danish settlement, and combined it with the DNA expertise of Dr Ellen Røyrvik from Warwick University, who worked on the Peoples of the British Isles project. 
“We consider the details of certain assumptions that were made in the study, and offer an alternative interpretation to the above conclusion,” the two wrote in their abstract. “We also comment on the substantial archaeological and linguistic evidence for a large-scale Danish Viking presence in England.” 
Kershaw told the Danish magazine Videnskab that she viewed the Danish Vikings as economic migrants little different from those arriving in the UK and Denmark today. 
“At that time, there may not have been enough resources in the Vikings' homeland, but in eastern England the Vikings found an agriculturally rich area,” she said. 
“We are currently living in a time of large-scale migration,” she added. “We must open our eyes to the fact that the same thing happened 1,000 years ago, rather than think of our ancestors as people who just stayed at home and never left their farms.” 
According to Professor Søren Sindbæk, a researcher at the University of Aarhus, the Danish Viking migrants caused so much resentment amongst the Anglo-Saxons that in 1002, King Æthelred the Unready gave orders for them all to be killed in what became known as the St. Brice's Day massacre.
“They were certainly getting tired of immigration in England around the 1000s,” Sindbæk told the magazine. “We do not know how many ended up being killed, but there is no doubt that a mass murder took place.” 
Sindbæk said that the massacre suggested that immigration was an issue among Britain's residents even then. 
“The episode underlines the fact that the Vikings were such a large population, that Danes was seen as a political force and in some contexts a problem.”
Æthelred certainly justified the massacre in a Royal Charter in terms reminiscent of today’s most incendiary anti-immigration language.
The Danes had “sprung up in this island, sprouting like darnel ryegrass [a weed] amongst wheat”, he complained.
Therefore, he argued, they  had to be “destroyed by a most just extermination.” 


Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Sunny weather is expected all week this week. Photo: Niclas Jessen/Visit Denmark

Denmark’s former PM names new party Moderaterne 

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s former prime minister, announced on Saturday that his new centre party would be called Moderaterne, the same name as the leading centre-right party in Sweden. 

In a speech held to mark Denmark’s Constitution Day on Saturday, Rasmussen said the new party would attempt to unite Danes with a variety of different backgrounds and political viewpoints. 

“Some prefer mackerel, and others prefer salmon. Some have long Danish pedigrees, others have only recently chosen to live in Denmark,” he said.

What they all have in common, he said, is their love for Denmark, which is “among the best countries in the world”. 

“How do we drive it forward? We are trying to find an answer to that. How do we pass it on to our children in better condition than we received it?” 

Rasmussen said the party would not launch fully until after November’s local elections, but was ready to contest a parliamentary election if the ruling Social Democrats decided to call an early vote, something he said he did not expect to happen. 

Sweden’s state epidemiologist warns Swedes to be careful in “high-infection” Denmark 

After the per capita number of new coronavirus infections in Denmark in recent days overtaking that of Sweden, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has advised Swedes visiting their Nordic neighbour to be careful to maintain social distancing. 

“You need to keep [the infection rate] in mind if you go there, so that you really take with you the advice you have in Sweden to keep your distance, not stay with lots of other people, and not have the close contact that involves a risk,” he told the Expressen newspaper. 

He said Denmark’s higher infection rate was an obvious consequence of the country’s more rapid lifting of restrictions. 

“They chose to open up society relatively quickly even though they knew that there was a certain risk that the spread of infection would increase,” he said. “Because they had vaccinated the elderly and did not see that it would be that dangerous with a certain increased spread of infection.” 

Nils Strandberg Pedersen, former director for Denmark’s SSI infectious diseases agency called Tegnell’s comments “comical”. 

“It’s comical. It’s Swedish spin,” he told the BT tabloid. “Denmark has registered more infections because we test so much more than the Swedes. It’s not the same as having more people infected in the population.” 

More immigrants to Denmark are getting an education 

The education gap between first and second-generation immigrants to Denmark and people of Danish origin has fallen over the last decade, according to a story published in Politiken based on new figures from Denmark’s immigration ministry. 

An impressive 72 percent of 20 to 24-year-old first and second-generation female immigrants now completing further education of university education, compared to 58 percent in 2010.

Denmark records further 853 cases of coronavirus 

A further 853 people were diagnosed with coronavirus in the 24 hours running up to 2pm on Sunday, a rise on Saturday when 592 cases were detected, but still within the range of 600 to 1350 a day within which Denmark has been fluctuating since the start of May. 

Thorkild Sørensen, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen, told Ritzau that the sunny summer weather was allowing people to meet outside, and vaccinations were having an impact, allowing Denmark to open up without a surge in infections.

On Sunday morning, 138 people were being treated for coronavirus in Denmark’s hospitals, up four from Saturday, or whom 29 were in intensive care. 

Some 40.4 percent of the population has now received at least one dose of vaccine and 23.2 percent have received both doses. 

Sunny summer weather expected in Denmark this week 

Denmark is expected to have warm sunny weather with temperatures of 18C to 23C, with blue skies and little rain, Danish Meteorological Institute said on Monday. 

“This week looks really nice and summery, and it will be mostly dry weather most of the time,” Anja Bodholdt, a meteorologist at the institute told Ritzau on Monday.  “The only exception is Monday, when people in Jutland and Funen might wake up to scattered showers that move east during the day.” 

Danish property market show signs of cooling 

The number of houses being put on the market fell again in May, according to new figures released from Home, one of Denmark’s largest online estate agents. 

According to Bjørn Tangaa Sillemann, an analyst at Danske Bank, the figures suggest that momentum is seeping out of what has been a “scorching” market over the last year, although he said it was unlikely prices would actually fall. 
“Although demand seems to be declining, it is still high, and when interest declines, it can also make it less attractive to put your home up for sale than it has been recently,” he said.
At Home, 5.1 percent fewer houses were put on the market in May, while the number of apartments put on the market fell 9 percent, and the number of sales fell by 2.1 and 5.7 percent respectively.