This book is the third in Routledge’s ‘Archaeologies of the Viking World’ series, and maintains the high standard of the others in terms of content.
The book’s core idea is that groups with connections to southern Scandinavia established an often-loose hegemony over a ‘network kingdom’ centred on Dublin and York. This embedded certain areas of Britain and Ireland in a wider network of market-based exchange extending from western Central Asia to the Atlantic between the mid-9th and mid-10th centuries AD.
Employing a refreshing first-person writing style, Tom Horne demonstrates an impressive grasp of the material culture involved, and its associated secondary literature, doing an admirable job of placing Insular distributions of coins, hacksilver, weights, ingots, and so on in their wider context, while also providing chapters on developments in economic archaeology by Scandinavian Viking Age specialists.
There has been far too little exploration of the medieval entanglement of Scandinavia with Britain and Ireland. By treating Insular processes in this period in their much wider context, Horne’s work will go a long way to filling a major gap in research. His book’s principal impact will be to get readers thinking in different ways and to introduce them to the latest in Scandinavian economic archaeology and wider patterns of material exchange. While some scholars – myself included – might not agree with all of Horne’s premises, theoretical approach, interpretations, or conclusions, such divergences are largely in the realm of opinion rather than fact, and I envision the book stimulating some lively public and academic debates.
In building its arguments, the book could have drawn more on primary documentary sources, and made better distinction between information from contemporary versus later sources. Better copy editing (50+ typos), typesetting, and image-resolution; more consistency in the layout and scales of maps, as well as greater accuracy in terms of missing/misplaced content (Hedeby is mislocated twice), would also have been desirable for a commercial academic publisher’s product.
A Viking Market Kingdom in Ireland and Britain: trade networks and the importation of a southern Scandinavian silver bullion economy Tom Horne Routledge, £120 (hardback), £36.99 (e-book) ISBN 978-0367357849