In the year 870, Dumbarton Rock was under siege. This fortress of the Britons guarded the entrance to the River Clyde at the centre of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Secure on their rock, the defenders were now all that stood in the way of an enormous Viking fleet sailing right to the heart of Central Scotland.
The effort that the attacking fleet put in just shows how powerful this Brittonic kingdom was. Assaulting the fortress itself was an impossible task but the invaders were patient. Even though Vikings were much more accustomed to lightning-fast raids, these ships blockaded Dumbarton Rock for four long months. They waited until the well on the lower level of the rock ran dry and the defenders were forced to surrender.
When the Vikings eventually did sail up through the heart of Glasgow, the plunder and destruction was terrible. They needed 200 ships to carry the huge number of prisoners away to be sold in the Dublin slave markets. The Kingdom of Strathclyde would never be the same and they were forced to move their capital upriver to Govan. Before long, they would be encompassed into the growing Kingdom of Alba, soon to be known as Scotland.
Written by Graeme Johncock
Graeme is the writer and storyteller behind Scotland’s Stories, sharing the traditional folklore and legends that make Scotland truly incredible.