Telling the story of King Alfred the Great’s quest to unite many small kingdoms into what eventually would become England, BBC America “The Last Kingdom” premiered to rave reviews this month. The third installment of the eight-part series airs this Saturday.
While the historical drama blends fact and fiction, there are plenty of real spots from around Alfred the Great’s era (872 AD) that travelers to England can experience.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Saturday’s premier centered on a Viking raid of Saxon Northumbria (largely in what’s now the county of Northumberland in northeastern England). Located just off the coast, but connected by a causeway that only appears at low tide, is the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Between 793 and 875, Vikings repeatedly sacked the settlement here, which St. Aidan founded as a monastery in 635. While the current Lindisfarne Priory dates from the 11th century, it’s adjacent to the site of the island’s first church. And Lindisfarne Heritage Centre contains exhibitions on the Vikings visits.
St. Andrew’s Church, Bywell
Also located in Northumberland is St. Andrew’s Church. Its tower dates from 850 AD and its 5-meter-thick walls make it clear the structure wasn’t just for worship, but also for defense against invaders.
Jorvik Viking Centre, York
The interactive exhibits at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York allow travelers to explore the area’s Viking history in 4D. Also on display are artifacts from a nearby excavation, including leather shoes, weapons, and a padlock.