The year 792 is considered by many as the first time that Vikings raided the territory of modern Britain (the sack of the monastery of Lindisfarne, discussed in detail in an earlier post) but according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first time men from the north landed on Britain’s shores was actually three years earlier, in 789.
In 789, three ships (possibly from “Hordaland / Horthaland” in Norway [Hardangefjord]) landed on the Isle of Portland. There, the king’s reeve, Beaduheart, and his men met them and, having mistaken the “dark-skinned” warriors for tradesmen, attempted to entice them to go to the king’s manor so as to pay a trading tax. Instead, Beaduheart and his men were slaughtered and the warrior party raided several surrounding towns before disappearing.
… The uncertainty as to the event, however, is twofold: first, some historians allege that the three ships landed in 787, not 789. More importantly, not all surviving copies of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle identify the raiding party as a Viking band: because some surviving copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle do not identify where the ships sailed from at all, some historians believe that their origin in “Hordaland” was a later addition (the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was written a century later), and an “educated guess” based on warriors from later raids.
Whether the so-called Viking Age began in 789 with the raids on the Isle of Portland or in 792 with the sack of Lindisfarne, one thing is certain: the age of viking raids had begun and would go on to change the course of European history forever.