It’s early morning, and behind the city walls the population is stirring, but today will not be like every other day. As the dawn mist burns off the river the long, sleek, high-prowed ships can be seen rapidly approaching…

One of the things that I love about Seville is that no matter how much I learn there always seems to be something new to discover about the people and places that make the city what it is. A few years ago I passed an art exhibition in the Plaza Nueva, which included a slightly abstract model of a longboat. At the time I didn’t realise its significance, which is why the boat itself isn’t in this photo, but it turns out that in the 9th century the Vikings twice raided Seville, in 844 when they sacked the city, and again in 859. One legacy of these raids was a Viking longship that was found in the Plaza Nueva during the digging of a test shaft in connection with the new metro. The 844 raid involved some fierce fighting, and it may have been left behind for lack of sufficient crew.

At first sight the Plaza Nueva may seem an odd place for a longship to end up, but we know that at this time there was a side branch of the Guadalquivir River that ran from what is now the Alameda, past Campana, along Sierpes, across the end of Plaza Nueva, and into the main river between the Torre del Oro and the Triana Bridge (none of these existed then, of course), and that this was outside the city walls as they were then, and it’s quite logical that the boats would have been beached there. I’ve often wondered what happened to the boat they found.