Institute of Archaeology


The Sir David Wilson Lecture in Medieval Studies: the Viking Age in the Northern Isles

25 October 2023, 6:00 pm–9:00 pm

Picture of two building porticos merged together (UCL and the British Museum)

The Sir David Wilson Lecture, the first event in the 2023-24 UCL Institute of Archaeology/British Museum Medieval Seminar Series, will be given by David Griffiths (University of Oxford) on 25 October.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Iain MacDonald


Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6
UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

The Sir David Wilson Lecture 2023 will be given by David Griffiths (University of Oxford) entitled 'New perspectives on the Viking Age in the Northern Isles.'


In this DM Wilson lecture, David Griffiths will take a revisionist look at the evidence for the Viking take-over of Orkney and Shetland. Traditionally, this is viewed as having been a colonial conquest in the earliest part of the Viking Age, involving a complete cultural displacement of the pre-Viking population. Much of the basis for this view lies in the account provided by the Orkneyinga Saga and in the influence of early to mid-c20 Scandinavian scholarship. The date and provenance of Orkneyinga Saga were eloquently reviewed in the 2022 DM Wilson lecture by Prof Judith Jesch. The 2023 lecture will partly continue this theme, providing a more archaeologically-weighted perspective. Based on many years of fieldwork and research in Orkney, the dates and locations of Viking-style burials, hoards and settlements will be re-examined. The onset and spread of Scandinavian influence in the Northern Isles will be presented as longer-term, and more incremental, nuanced and complex, than has hitherto been generally understood.  

This in-person event is a joint meeting with the Institute of Historical Research Earlier Middle Ages seminar, followed by a launch party for the seminar series in the Sixth Floor Staff Common Room at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

The Medieval Seminar Series is sponsored by the World Archaeology Section at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum. 

Seminar Series Convenors:

Meetings Secretary: