This is a once-off free taster lecture offered as part of our Taster Week January 2024.
Islamic travellers in the medieval period encountered tall and fair-haired northerners along eastern European rivers, they called them al-Madjus: ‘fire worshipers’ – heathens. In these accounts the northerners are no longer Vikings but have morphed seamlessly into the Rus. This is the group we will follow. We will look at the term itself, which is intricately linked with modern-day politics. The question of whether the Vikings are the Rus is of national importance in eastern Europe and echoes in the current war in Ukraine. We will examine the relationship of Rus to the Byzantium world and the arrival of Christianity. The creation of this empire, part of European Christendom, that had wide and lasting repercussions.
Linda Doran is a graduate of University College Dublin where she completed her PhD in 2001. She carried out a study of medieval settlement along the valleys of the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers funded by the Heritage Council of Ireland. She has published numerous papers on settlement and communication routes, is editor of the New Ross section of the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Historic Towns Atlas and has edited books on medieval lordship (2008) and Glendalough: City Of God (2011). She is a former honorary general secretary of Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. She lectures in medieval history in University College Dublin