The Briefest Book Review (5)

Reading about Vikings in the Low Countries.

Luit van der Tuuk, Vikingen: Noormannen in de Lage Landen (Utrecht: Omniboek, 2016), ISBN 9789401906838. Second Edition. Paperback. [Dutch language].

Source: The Viking Archive.

Compared to other regions, we know relatively little about Vikings in the Low Countries. As a result, some people believe Vikings might not have roamed this part of Europe at all. But Luit van der Tuuk tries to explain why it is reasonable to believe the Vikings visited these marshy deltas. As the conservator at the Dorestad museum and independent researcher, he has extensive knowledge on the topic. And it shows in his book.

One of book’s strengths is the vivid picture that shows the complex political situation during the Viking Age. So much just happened on a Frankish king’s whim or a Danish vassal’s opportunism. In contrast, however, the book’s weakness is not as much the author’s fault, but rather the present state of Dutch Viking studies. There is not enough substantial or direct archaeological evidence to support the information in the medieval sources. Still, Van der Tuuk tells a coherent story of the general political situation in the region and zooms in on specific Viking objects or connections in the Low Countries where possible.

This book is a good read for laymen, though not one to read from cover to cover in one session as its style is a bit dry. Having said this, Van der Tuuk’s volume currently remains the standard work on the topic.

Alas, the book is in the Dutch language only. For English translations of parts of his work or specific topics, see Van der Tuuk’s blog Gjallar and The Viking Langhuis.

Verdict: good.

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