Saturday 3 February 2024

2444. 🇬🇧 Vikings Rampaging Through Royal Mail.


New issues.

🇬🇧 Royal Mail -

20 February 2024 - The Vikings in Britain, 40th anniversary of the opening of the Jorvik Centre in York - 8 stamps (4 se-tenant pairs, 2x1st, 2x£1, 2x£2 and 2x£2.20). Further illustrations and details awaited. Rating:- ****.

🇮🇳 India Post -

31 January 2024 - Centenary of the Bombay Sappers War memorial in Pune - 1 stamp. Rating:- **.

Has Royal Mail erased the Anglo-Saxon era from history?

It seems over recent years, irregularly and perhaps casually, but nevertheless discernibly, that Royal Mail has been issuing sets which tell the story of Britain from Prehistoric times, firstly with a set depicting prehistoric British creatures, then an overview of the ‘Ancient Britons’, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, then Roman-occupied Britannia and then the Anglo-Saxon Era, the latter stage of which saw large parts of England occupied by Scandinavian Viking terrorists who ultimately became settlers which will be commemorated by a set of 8 stamps this year as reported above. A nice series in chronological order celebrating the eras of Britain. But, alas, I made an error, Royal Mail has omitted the 500 years of Anglo-Saxon dominance of the island and passed merrily on to celebrate the Vikings whom the English finally managed to get rid of only after they had plagued the country for almost two hundred years (and even then they were not finished as they returned for another try (with some short-term success) in 980 when Edgar was King of England.

  It seems that presently woke historians are keen to play up almost everything in British history apart from anything that celebrates the English and their history. To use the term ‘Anglo Saxon’ is almost an obscenity in some quarters. It’s a pity as the Anglo-Saxons gradually brought their small kingdoms together to forge England and during their period of dominance, prior to the Norman invasion, far from living in a ‘Dark Age’ they established a fine system of government which brought wealth to the people and developed a culture which resulted in some fine and distinctive art. All this in the face of regular, debilitating, violent Scandinavian attacks and eventual occupation of most of the country by the Vikings as well as regular raids by the Irish and the Scots.

 Those who choose the subjects for Royal Mail stamps have opted for the trivial and the inconsequential in recent years but do at times decide to commemorate aspects of Britain’s remarkable history if only perhaps to suggest that they have not entirely dumbed down the story of Britain as told by its national postage stamps. Likewise, those who choose subjects opt to play safe and not annoy those in society who are keen to be offended, of which, alas, there are now many. Perhaps that’s why the Anglo Saxons appear to have been erased from British history as related by Royal Mail through its postage stamps. Or perhaps there will be a set of stamps next year to commemorate the five hundred years of the Anglo Saxon era.

  This year the fifteenth anniversary of the discovery of the magnificent Staffordshire hoard of Anglo Saxon treasure could have been celebrated or the Sutton Hoo ship burials might have been celebrated on a stamp. The Battle of Brunanburh in 927 in which the first King of England, Aethelstan, destroyed a coalition army of Scots, Irish and Vikings, and by doing so created a united England, is one of the most significant events in the history of these islands but which has never received philatelic recognition and notable monarchs such as Alfred, Offa - who saw himself as the equal of Charlemagne - and Penda have gone unrecognised. 

  There would be reason to commemorate a great Anglo Saxon woman, Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, who played an important role in defeating the Vikings by assisting her father Alfred, and brother, Edward The Elder. And of course there is room to commemorate Anglo Saxon literature, most notable of all perhaps, the epic poem Beowulf. It seems remarkable that none of these aspects of British-English history have yet featured on British stamps though there has in the past been room to showcase Star Trek, Batman, and this year, incredibly, Peppa Pig

  For now at least, the casual series of the philatelic history of Britain has a gap in it as the Vikings rampage across Britain and Royal Mail. Has Royal Mail erased the Anglo Saxons from British history or will Royal Mail allow the Anglo-Saxons to fight back in a future issue?

Prehistory - 

Stone Age to the Iron Age - 

Roman Britannia - 43AD to 510AD 

Anglo-Saxons -  550-1066


Viking invasions and settlement - 789 - 954

Norman England - 1066 - 1154.


  1. It seems very woke to note the social disparity of ignoring Anglo-Saxon contributions to the UK, compared to the other invaders.

    1. Sorry, I don’t really understand your comment.