Norman Conquest Encyclopedia
From the 8th to the 10th centuries the shores of the British Isles, northern France and Iceland, as well as of North America, were harried, plundered and sometimes settled by people from Scandinavia. They were known as Vikings, a word of uncertain origin. It may be from a word meaning seamen, but it became synonymous with pirate and pagan. In England they were known as Danes, although some may well have been from Norway.
In northern France these men from the north, Norsemen, were eventually recognised as the rulers of what became Normandy and in England they became rulers of the Danelaw, broadly that part of the country north and east of Watling Street, the road that is now the A5. The Danes achieved the English throne in the person of King Cnut or Canute. The Viking influence in England ended when Harold Godwinsson defeated Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in 1066.