The precise location of the longphort of Linn Duachaill has been a matter of speculation by antiquarians, archaeologists and historians since at least the middle of the 18th century. In 2004 Eamonn P. Kelly, Micheál McKeown and Dr. Mark Clinton formed a research group with the aim of identifying the site.
The death of St. Colmán of Linn Duachaill was recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters under the year 699A.D. His monastery near Annagassan had therefore been founded sometime in the latter half of the 7th century. The deaths of another half dozen abbots were recorded by the annalists over the following almost century and a half. The death of Caemhan or Colmán, the last abbot, occurred in 842A.D. Unlike his predecessors, he met with a violent end. The fact that he was ‘wounded and burned’ by the Vikings and their Irish allies indicated that a new intrusive force had arrived in the area.
In 841 A.D. The Annals of Ulster reported that the Vikings had established permanent bases at ‘Duiblinn’ and at ‘Linn Duachaill’. Linn is the Gaelic word for pool. Duachaill was the name of a demon that had dwelt in the deep pool formed by the confluence of the rivers Dee and Glyde. The name of the adjacent town land to the pool is still called The Linns.
The permanent base or ‘Longphort’ (ship harbour) of Linn Duachaill was used by the Vikings to launch raids against the kingdom of Tethba (in modern Longford) and the monasteries of Armagh, Clogher and Clonmacnoise. Clearly, it became a major centre for trading, raiding and slave taking. In 851 A.D. ‘the dark heathens’ (Dubgennti) launched an attack on the ‘fair-haired foreigners’ (Fhinngallaibh) of Linn Duachaill but were repulsed with ‘a great number of them slaughtered’.
The last mention of Linn Duachaill was in 927 A.D. when the Viking fleet sailed from there across to Britain.
The search for the lost Viking settlement of Linn Duachaill was finally brought to a successful conclusion with its discovery by scientific excavation in 2010. The story continues.
Dr. Mark Clinton
Director of Excavations (Nov 2012)