The Nottingham Vikings Ball Hockey Club was founded in 2018 having been reformed from the old Reapers BHC. It was a name conceived by Head Coach Benny Tring, the essence of it being the symbolic plunder of the old [teamname], to make way for the new.
Over a thousand years before, Nottingham saw its own plunder and occupation by the great Danish Viking army led by the sons of Ragnor Lothbrok, including Ivor the Boneless. If you’ve watched the ‘Vikings’ TV series, you’ll be all too familiar with these characters and their rise to fame (and infamy).
Viking lords, backed by an army of Viking warriors, held control of what is now Nottinghamshire. By the 9th and 10th centuries this Viking cultural control of the area had become official with Nottingham being part of the Danelaw, an area of northern and eastern England under Danish rule. During this period Nottingham was one of five Boroughs which controlled the area of Northern Mercia, the former Saxon Kingdom now under Danish influence.
Viking culture and language has filtered through in many aspects of the modern-day life, apparent in many of our regional place names. Danish name-endings such as ‘Thorpe’, as in Gunthorpe, and ‘by’, as in Linby, are derived from Scandinavian words. The word ‘By’ still means ‘town’ in Danish today, and the word ‘thorpe’ signified an outlying settlement. The influence of the Vikings can also be seen in the city of Nottingham’s street names. The Old Norse element gata ‘path, way, road’ can be found in street names such as Barker Gate ‘street of the barkers or tanners’, Castle gate ‘street leading to the castle’, and Fisher Gate ‘street of the fishermen’. And famous bridges, such as Trent Bridge, known in medieval times as ‘Hethbethbrigg’ used the Old Scandinavian word ‘Brigge’, which still survives in the word ‘Brygga’ for jetty or bridge in Swedish.
Perhaps the most relevant to us is the village of Tollerton, only a few miles from where we train at the Nottingham Sports & Fitness Centre in Clifton. The original Danish meaning is 'Torleifs farm', as Torleif was a Danish-Viking farmer, who founded the village.
People living in other villages such as Langar and Barnstone, whether they were Anglo-Saxons or Vikings, had to follow Viking laws and pay tax to Viking lords. Langar and Barnstone were part of the Danelaw.
Today we follow our own Viking inspired traditions and Danelaw, playing with a mindset of a fearless army, but in our case, only on a ball hockey court. Something epitomised by Louise Wilding’s short poem written for us:
Forged from steel,
And chiselled of stone,
Where Vikings stand,
No others dare roam.
We even have supporters in our club’s native home, Denmark, including ‘Remi the Viking’ (Remi Sørensen) seen below sporting his very own Viking Jersey for his 60th Birthday, courtesy of Walt. A relationship forged during last year’s visit by The Nottingham Panthers where they played SønderjyskE Ishockey in Denmark, during the Continental Cup.
So next time you play for us, or against us. Remember, you’re not just playing a Nottingham team, you’re playing a 1000+ years of Viking culture, embodied by a team of Viking warriors.
All aboard the Longboat!
References & Excerpts from:
Morris, J. (ed) 1977. Domesday Book Nottinghamshire. Phillimore. Chichester. J. E. B. Gover J.E.B & Mawer, A & Stenton, F.M. 1940. Placenames of Nottinghamshire. English Place names Society XVII.