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The series titled, Vikings: Valhalla, chronicles the heroic adventures of history’s most famous Vikings in the 11th century.
They include the legendary explorer Leif Eriksson (Australian actor Sam Corlett), his fiery and headstrong sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Swedish actor Frida Gustavsson), and the ambitious Nordic Prince Harald Sigurdsson (English actor Leo Suter).
The popular series is loosely based on real-life characters and events, but it also incorporates several fictional characters.
The series is a sequel to the hugely popular Vikings series, which aired on the History Channel between 2013 and 2020.
It ran for six seasons (89 episodes) and was also filmed in Wicklow.
Season 2 finds the heroes shortly after the tragic fall of Kattegat, an event that has shattered their dreams and altered their destinies.
Finding themselves suddenly fugitives in Scandinavia they are forced to test their ambitions and courage in worlds beyond the fjords of Kattegat, which is depicted in the series as a port city in Norway.
In reality, Kattegat is an area of ocean located between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Locations Used for the Season 2 Filming
This new Vikings drama series was filmed in a variety of locations across Wicklow, using Ashford Studios as a base, while also creating exterior sets in some of Wicklow’s most beautiful natural locations.
They include the Luggala Estate, the former ancestral home of the Guinness dynasty, and Lough Tay (which becomes the harbor of the Kattegat settlement).
Lough Tay is often referred to as the “Guinness Lake” because its shape and white sand when viewed from afar look like a pint of the Black Stuff.
To make it as Viking-like as possible, the production team built jetties, defense towers, harbor side buildings and a protective palisade wall to create Kattegat Harbor, mooring up to 14 Viking ships, with hundreds of extras as mariners and townsfolk.
The nearby Roundwood Quarry doubles as Jomsburg, the semi-legendary Viking stronghold at the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, while the sand marsh townsland of Ballyhorsey Quarry doubles for ‘The Ice River.”
Farmland around Ashford in County Wicklow doubled as the Novgorod Republic.
The Novgorod Republic was a medieval state that existed from the 12th to the 15th centuries, stretching from the Gulf of Finland to the northern Ural Mountains and included the city of Novgorod, today a city in modern Russia.
Other County Wicklow locations used in the filming of the series include Childers Woods, which also featured in other well-known movies, including Excaliber made in 1981, as well as Nun's Beach at Maghermore, Bray Head, and the Black Castle ruin, located outside Wicklow town.
Filming Locations in Counties Meath and Kerry included the Slane Castle estate and the Boyne valley in County Meath, in addition to beautiful aerial shots of County Kerry, which are used to depict Viking landscapes.
All 8 episodes of Vikings: Valley are available on Netflix.
The History of the Vikings in Ireland
The Vikings first landed on the east coast of Ireland in 795 A.D. and were still in Ireland during the 11th century.
Most of their hit-and-run raids took place in and around Dublin, extending down the coast to Wexford.
In 1014, perhaps the most famous of Gaelic-Viking battles took place at Clontarf, Co. Dublin (now a coastal suburb north of Dublin).
The Irish army was led by Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, who fought against a Norse-Irish alliance and a Viking army from abroad.
Scholars estimate that between 7,000 and 10,000 men were killed in the bloody battle, including Boru, his sons, and most of the Viking leadership.
Since the Irish won the battle, it was considered an important event in history and seen as a milestone that freed the Irish from foreign domination, with Boru hailed as a national hero.
County Wicklow: A Popular Destination for Filmmakers and Tourists
County Wicklow, often referred to as “The Garden of Ireland,” is considered one of Ireland’s most picturesque destinations.
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In 2021, Disney’s “Enchanted” sequel was filmed in the town of Enniskerry.
The estate is in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, which includes a number of natural lakes, including Lough Tay, Lough Dan, and the Blessington Lakes.
Day Tours from Dublin to Wicklow
Most tour groups take visitors to the county’s most popular attractions.
Additional exploration of County Wicklow might also include attractions like the following:
Since the late 18th century, there has been a prison on the site that now houses the popular museum, Wicklow Gaol.
Known for its brutality and corruption, Wicklow Gaol housed prisoners from the 1798 Rebellion, the Great Famine, and those who were bound for the penal colonies in Australia.
While the prison was officially closed in 1900, it was re-opened for a while to hold men who fought in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
The last record of prisoners in the jail was in 1924.
The museum offers an immersive tour that transports tourists back in time and where they meet Mary Morris, the prison’s matron, and other actors dressed in period costumes.
Wicklow Gaol claims to be the most haunted building in Ireland and its paranormal tour is one of its most popular as a result.
It is among Ireland’s most popular dark tourism sites.
While this might be a minor attraction given the extent of its ruins, the location that Black Castle sits on is stunning and leads to one of the most beautiful walks on the County Wicklow coast.
Start at Black Castle and take the 2.6-mile trek to Wicklow Head Lighthouse. The trail is ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
Dogs are welcome and can be off a leash in some areas.
Black Castle has a checkered history, often changing hands and under considerable attack from Irish chieftains who wanted ownership of it given the castle's prime location on the coast.
Mount Usher Gardens
The first generation of Walpoles created Mount Usher Gardens in 1868.
Today it covers 22 acres and includes a combination of trees and shrubs, with additional inspirational floral planting schemes along each side of the nearby River Vartry.
No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll experience a variety of colors and textures from this beautiful space. A tree trail guide is available at the site.
The attraction also includes the Avoca Garden Café and courtyard shops.