In 878 AD, the Great Viking Army was defeated by King Alfred and faced a new life of enforced settlement in the east of Britannia. A bitter pill for the invaders to swallow, in light of their grand vision for a new Scandinavian kingdom. The previous century had seen escalating Viking incursions across the isles. What began as sporadic coastal raids intensified over time as the Vikings began to glean the scale of plunder Britannia could offer. A sense of organisation crept into their plans, and in due course the Danes, supported by the Swedes and Norwegians, raised a great army with the intention of conquering Britannia and avenging the death of the legendary Viking warlord Ragnar Lothbrok, executed by the King of Northumbria in 865 AD.
The Welsh Kingdoms descended from the Celtic Britons who occupied much of the island of Britain from the Iron Age, into and beyond its Romanisation in the First Century.
Not long after the Romans departed, the lands would come to be dominated by Anglo-Saxons who had arrived from northern Europe. Ironically, the term ‘Welsh’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon term for foreigner, ‘wealas’, which they applied to the native Britons. The Anglo-Saxons flourished and many of the old Brittonic kingdoms began to disappear.
The Britons who inhabited the Welsh peninsula were able to hold ground against attacks from the Anglo Saxons, Gaels and numerous bands of Vikings. These kingdoms were among the last bastion of Romano-British culture but there was a shift towards a more militaristic way of life in order to survive against these persistent invaders.
Britons also still occupied what is now southern Scotland. Here, the kingdom of Strat Clut, known as the Strathclyde Welsh to the Anglo-Saxons, defended their realm under constant pressure from Picts and Vikings.