View from Viking Settlement at Woodstown Waterfordof the River Suir9th Century Viking longphort at Woodstown, Co Waterford

This web site is intended as a source of information on the 9th Century Viking longphort found at Woodstown, on the south bank of the River Suir near Waterford City.

The site was first excavated by archaeologists in April 2003 in preparation for the N25 Waterford ByPass Project. The publishers would like to thank the many contributors who have submitted articles for inclusion.

Recent Events/News

Key Information from the 2010 International Viking Conference

The conference focused on three key questions: a) the nature and date of the settlement at Woodstown b) the parallels for the Woodstown material found elsewhere in the Viking world and c) the relationship of the settlement to Waterford City itself.

The area enclosed by an earth bank (500x120m) was a Viking site of the type known as a longphort - a defensive enclosure which was built to protect the ships and army of Viking raiders, including plunder, local captives (whom they would sell as slaves) and cattle. As only 5% of the site has been dug, little can be said as yet about dwellings but one identifiable structure (located outside the enclosure and measuring 10 x 7 m) appears to have been used for metal-working.

On-going analysis of the finds suggests the site was occupied during the 'long second half' of the 9th Century - a period from 830-920. So far Woodstown has only produced one grave. Described as one of the best equipped such graves from Britain or Ireland, the grave goods included a 9th century sword, scandanavian spearhead, shield boss, axe and whetstone. The signifigant social status of the man ceremonially buried was also indicated by the monument at the enclosure entrance.

2010 field trip to woodstownWoodstown Vikings seem to have been trading with locals - using a pattern of commerce which may mean a distinctive type of Viking colonisation and settlement in south-east Ireland. Analysis of lead weights indicates that the Viking settlements at Woodstown and Waterford display distinct features, with no urban continuity between both locations.

Dr Patrick Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, stated that 'Woodstown revolutionised our understanding of weights'. Describing Woodstown as a 'extraordinary site archaeologically' Dr Wallace envisages small controlled scientific research excavations being carried out over many years.

For more details : SVWAG press release International Viking Conference - 30 March 2010

International Viking Conference

Viking Woodstown and Hiberno-Norse Waterford:
their Place in the Viking World

26-28 March, 2010, at Waterford Museum of Treasures,
in association with the National Museum of Ireland

Brochure available here as pdf

for further information contact : Donnchdh O Ceallacháin Waterford Museum of Treasures, Merchants Quay, Waterford tel:353 51 304500

Viking Waterford Conference

Facts About Woodstown

Woodstown - the basic facts

The Woodstown site is located on the southern bank of the River Suir, up river from and approximately five miles west of Waterford City.
About 5% of the site has been uncovered. In this relatively small area, over 600 features such as house-gullies, pits and fireplaces have been found and over 5000 objects, including silver ingots, ships nails, coins from Byzantium and five examples of Viking weaponry.
This volume of material shows the site was densely settled.
Much of the metal-work seems to belong to the period, 840s to 880s. This was a time when the king of Ossory (roughly modern Kilkenny) suddenly appears in the Irish annals as a figure of national importance who rose to power through his strategic alliances with various groups of Vikings.
The area previously had connections with the Ó bhFathaidh clan of the Déise dynasty - an established outward-looking people, with a strong maritime tradition who had set up colonies in south-west Wales.

Viking Network Ireland- The Viking Age in Ireland

Vikings at Waterford (possibly Woodstown) attacked the King of Osraige but were slaughtered in 860. Viking Network Ireland

Viking Network Ireland - Longphorts Viking Settlements in Ireland

During the 830s Viking raiders in Ireland began to establish winter camps. The word longphort, first used in the Irish annals in 840, was used to describe these camps. During the first half of the tenth century the term was used to describe Scandinavian naval bases. Typically they consisted of a fortified area on the bank of a river, a bend in the river or adjoining tributary provided defence on two sides and a pool anchorage for the Viking ships. Sources referenced by Viking Network Ireland include:

Eamonn P. Kelly and John Maas, Vikings on the Barrow in Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 9 No. 3 , (Autumn 1995).
Eamonn P. Kelly and Edmond O'Donovan, in Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 12 No. 4, (Winter 1998).

Viking Network Ireland - VIKING WATERFORD (City)

Between 1987 and 1990 about 20% of Waterford City's Viking Triangle was excavated. The evidence indicates that during the Late Viking Age the town was densely populated, well defended, Christianised and prosperous. Information on Waterford City's Viking defences, churches, finds and houses is available from Viking Network Ireland. Sources referenced include:

M.F.Hurley and O.B.M. Scully with S.J. McCutcheon, Late Viking Age and Medieval Waterford Excavations 1986-1992.
Howard B. Clarke, Proto-towns and Towns in Ireland and Britain in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries in H.B. Clarke, M. Ní Mhaonaigh and R. Ó Floinn (eds), Ireland and Scandinavia in the Early Viking Age (Dublin, 1998).
Maurice F. Hurley, The Vikings in Munster - Evidence from Waterford and Cork in Archaeology Ireland, Vol 9 No 3, Autumn 1995 (The Viking Issue).
Maurice Hurley with Claire Walsh & Orla Scully `Waterford in the Late Viking Age' in Michael Ryan (ed), The illustrated archaeology of Ireland (Dublin 1991).

National Roads Authority (NRA)

N25 Waterford Bypass Project Tracker | N25 Waterford Bypass Archaeological Investigation

NRA reports based on excavations in April and August 2003 suggest that the site at Woodstown is a defended, riverside settlement with associated industrial-type activity, most likely dating within the Hiberno-Norse/Early Medieval periods - 800 to 1000 AD

New Publication - 'Some Traditions & History of the Deise'

Published by Portlaw / Kilmeaden-based Dolmen History Group on May 25th 2006.

The book features a local perspective on 3 of the N25 Waterford Bypass excavations carried out by ACS Ltd in the Kilmeaden area, these include the Iron Age vertical watermill at Dooneen marsh, the early historic settlement at Adamstown and the "Woodstown 6" excavations. Other topics include the folklore & history of the Portlaw / Kilmeaden area.

The Journal of the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society.

Includes an article by Richard O'Brien and Ian Russell on the Woodstown site. Other Articles on archaeological discoveries on the Airport Road, and on the conservation of the Double Tower. Copies may be ordered from Editor, Donnchadh O Ceallachain, 22 Barker Street, Waterford.

Woodstown in the NewsPapers

Mar 2010 - Government urged to commit to full excavation of archaeological site Irish Times read onlline

Nov 2006 - Bypass Viking Discoveries Star in Granary Exhibition - By Aileen Mulhall Waterford News & Star published articles

July 2006 - Further archaeological investigations are to be carried out at Woodstown, Co Waterford... Irish Times published articles

Sept 2005 - Release of new information on the Woodstown Viking site at the XVth Viking Congress, including first info on the geophysical survey of the site. --> more info

17 May 2004 - The Minister for the Environment, Mr Cullen, is set to order a full archaeological excavation of the Viking site at Woodstown in Waterford... Irish Times published articles

4 May 2004 - The discovery of a 1,200-year-old Viking fortress at Woodstown, near Waterford city, has been hailed by a leading historian as 'the most significant new find in Viking studies in perhaps a century'. Irish Times published articles

SVWAG 2004-2005
Lecture Series

The Save Viking Waterford Action Group are seeking full excavation of the site. An interpretative centre/education facility could then be built, utilising the knowledge gained from the excavation and acting as a tourist attraction for the region.

"Woodstown, Kilmainham/ Islandbridge - the Railway Element" Dr Elizabeth O’Brien, early Irish burial customs - lecture notes

"Waterford Vikings and Some Annals" Professor Donnchadh Ó Corráin of University College Cork. Lecture notes not available

"Camas Ó bhFathaidh Tíre - its Location & Signifigance" Dr Breandán Ó Cíobháin, place-name associated with Woodstown area. Lecture notes

"Viking Chiefs, Irish Kings and Exported Princesses" Dr Catherine Swift, NUI Galway, archaeology, history and Old Irish. Lecture notes

"Woodstown and Viking Waterford ­ Historical Context" - Dr Colmán Etchingham, NUI Maynooth, Irish medieval history. Lecture notes ->

"The Déise Navy: ships and shipbuilding in Waterford from Brian Boru to Strongbow” Dr Catherine Swift, chair SVWAG. more>

"Archaeological Careers & Training in the ITs: Pitfalls & Opportunities" Mr Paul Gosling, Lecturer in Archaeology, G-M IT lecture notes | more info -->

"Voyages: From Irish Currachs to Viking Longships" Mr Tim Severin, explorer, author, filmmaker, historian more info -->

"Was Woodstown a Town?" Professor Howard Clarke, UCD, the origins of Irish cities. Notes not available

"Viking settlement in Ireland - WoodQuay to Woodstown" Ms Emer Purcell, UCC. Lecture notes not available

Paula Geraghty presention at first public meeting. Notes not available

Professor Richard Hall, Academic Director York Archaeological Trust, - presentation on ongoing work on the site of Ainsbrook camp, Feb 2006, event hosted by Waterford Institute of Technology more info -->

Lecture Series
Press Releases
Woodstown Map

Disclaimer: This web site is a resource for those interested in the Woodstown Viking Site. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be taken for errors, omissions or misquotes. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the publishers.