Thursday 15 February 2024

Viking Britain set of 8 stamps - 20 February 2024

The second important set of stamps to be issued this year explores the history and impact of the Viking invasion of Britain and also marks 40 years since the Jorvik Centre opened in York.

As my co-blogger WhiteKnight has covered on his Commonwealth Stamps Opinion it appears that Royal Mail have overlooked the Anglo-Saxons, although they don't always issue series in any sort of order.

Be that as it may, this is a second successive set which is a credit to the designers, and a set which I might almost have for my collection!

Reason and Inspiration (by Royal Mail)

Between the 8th and 11th centuries, the Vikings – seaborne adventurers from Scandinavia – profoundly transformed Britain. They left a legacy that remains with us to this day.

The Vikings were seaborne adventurers of Scandinavian origin whose activities in the British Isles from the end of the 8th century onwards changed the languages, economy, society and political geography of these islands forever. Early raids targeted Christian monasteries and coastal communities but, by the mid-9th century, these incursions had evolved into large-scale invasions that tore up the traditional patchwork of small independent kingdoms. 

The waves of migration, settlement and conquest that followed transformed Britain; by the early 11th century, kings and earls of Danish and Norwegian heritage ruled the whole of England and large parts of Scotland, and dominated the Irish Sea. And while ultimately the sounding horns of the Viking Age fell silent, the echoes still remain.

The stamps

Viking Britain, set of 8 Great Britain stamps issued 20 February 2024, click for enlargment.

1st class - Iron, silver & copper sword, Temple, London; Olaf Guthfrithsson silver penny, minted in York

£1.00 - Silver penannular brooch, Penrith, Cumbria; Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland

£2.00 - Norse settlement remains, Jarlshof, Shetland; Antler comb and case, Coppergate, York

£2.20 - Guilded bronze brooch, Pitney, Somerset; Hogback gravestone, Govan Old, Glasgow

Technical details

The 50 x 30 mm stamps were designed Studio Up and printed by Cartor Security Printers in lithography, in sheets of 30 se-tenant pairs (not sure whether that is sheets of "30 se-tenant pairs" or "30, in se-tenant pairs".  Perforation is 14.  


Iron, silver and copper sword (1st class), Silver penny (1st class), Silver penannular brooch (£1) and Gilded bronze brooch (£2.20) © The Trustees of the British Museum;  Lindisfarne Priory(£1) © AJM681/Alamy Stock Photo, featured with kind permission of English Heritage; Norse settlement remains (£2) © Chris Griffiths/Getty Images; Antler comb and case (£2)  © York Archaeological Trust for Excavation and Research Limited; Hogback gravestone (£2.20) © Alan McAteer; featured with kind permission of Govan Old; 

Vintage paper texture © Javarman/Alamy Stock Photo; ‘Time of Viking Invasions’ map, from History of England by George Macaulay Trevelyan. Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd, London, 1926 © The Print Collector/Alamy Stock Photo;  Antique map of Shetland and Orkney Islands  © ilbusca/Getty Images. 

All © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2024

Products available

Set of 8 stamps, presentation pack, first day cover, stamp cards, medal cover (£20, limited to 5,000), framed set (£35).

Congratulations to Studio Up and the Royal Mail team for a great set.


  1. Two excellent sets of stamps from Royal Mail in a row with neither having those annoying "collectors items"

  2. Yes another really nice set. Again it could have been delivered with just one design per value, but overall pretty good. I wonder when the £1 and £2 values will get used though. A 20p value would be really useful ... (£2.20 for overseas postcards is 1st plus 2nd plus 20p).

    1. For surface postcards you don't need the 20p though.

    2. How long do surface postcards take though Ian?

    3. It's pot luck: often 'economy' or surface goes by air as there is space on the plane and no ships due to a destination.

    4. According to my Post Office guide, letters up to 100g sent by Royal Mail International Economy do cost £2 - but this service is only available outside Europe. So, to post a postcard or letter to Europe up to 100g will cost £2.20..

    5. I do occasionally send letters/postcards, and don't notice much of a delay. A while back, did a little surface mail / international economy experiment - Australia in 5 days! Well, that wasn't by sea!

      If you don't write "international economy" then they might try to return to sender saying insufficient postage!

  3. White Knight commenting - This is an excellent issue & will be a pleasure to add to my collection. Ideally I should like 4 or 6 stamps, and no more, in a set with a lower total face value. Perhaps one day good sense will return. It’s nice not to have all the extra items (which I’ve long given up collecting). I note on the RM site there are a number of previous ‘Collectors sheets’ and ‘Fan sheets’ etc still for sale a long time after issue, sometimes at reduced prices, & I hope this is a sign that the exorbitantly expensive, numerous extra items have lost their appeal to non-stamp collectors & it will cease to be worthwhile RM producing them. Time will tell. I look forward to an Anglo Saxon themed issue - there are so many wonderful items to portray - the Staffordshire hoard, early English churches, the Alfred Jewel, the Sutton Hoo burial, jewels & helmet, literature such as Beowulf, the first correspondence written in English and so on. Maybe next year.

    1. In fairness I do not think that they could have an 'Anglo-Saxon' issue. The other nations, such as Vikings, Britons Romans &c have ended but Anglo-Saxon is just an intellectual synonym for English: a nation which is fortunately still going. As for Beowulf, he was Swedish and is buried near Uppsala...The Viking issue is really about the Jorvik centre anniversary and it is nice to see the relics it contains on the stamps.

    2. The Anglo-Saxon period is now being referred to as the Early Medieaval rather than the Dark Ages. It spanned the period from the Romans to the Normans. I don't agree that 700 years of British history should be ignored. There should be something to cover this period, whatever it's called.

      Incidentally the Sutton Hoo helmet ,from AD 600, appeared in the 2003 British Museum issue, and was described then as Anglo-Saxon. I see from Wikipedia that the term Anglo-Saxon is not a modern/Victorian invention but first appeared in the 8th century to distinguish from the Germanic Saxons. I think there's argument enough.

    3. White Knight replying. I agree with Ian - 700 years of what was anything but a Dark Age must not be ignored in an ongoing philatelic history. The Anglo Saxons were the early English and their culture & civilisation - our culture & civilisation - should not be airbrushed from the story of these islands. Beowulf was a great early piece of English literature which is why it should be commemorated - more worthy than Peppa Pig I think.

  4. This does look like a nice issue... I can see myself buying all the values in this issue, some more than others...

  5. I agree - it's a decent looking set and I'll possibly go out and buy some to use for actual postage.

    I agree on the values as well. £1 and £2 are rather unlikely to be used postally unless you add a 20p. I could send a postcard to US chums as surface but as SE3Simon asked - is it worth saving 20p if it takes a month? I'd prefer to see 2 each of 2nd, 1st and £2.20 as a set. (Actually - I'd like the return of the E stamp and separate values - it seems counterintuitive that a 10g postcard to France is the same as a 98g letter to Australia.)

  6. I like the stamps and shall buy the £1 & £2. As I am terrible at Maths it is useful to me to have them for parcels, rather than messing about in the Post Office with Horizon labels. And they are handy for foreign postcards. A

  7. Having a useless £1 but not a basic Second class just strikes me as ridiculous, unless there's no pretence now that they're meant to be used for the payment of postage.

    1. I refer you to the Royal Mail statement that I published last spring

    2. Yes, but I'm not the least bit convinced by "to ensure variety" or to "provide the option for more flexible use of special stamps for parcels"

    3. If you use the "signed for" service then 2nd signed for (£2.25) = 1st + £1, so I use £1 stamps regularly

    4. There are always some convenient combinations which are of use, and if it were always to be the case that any increase in a particular NVI was followed through to its most obvious use cases, that would be find and dandy.

      For instance, in the example of £2.25, I would use three 2nd stamps; when next tariffs are uprated, whatever the increase in the price of a 2nd stamp, I would hope that the price of "2nd signed for" would increase by no more than three times that of the 2nd stamps. (I expect to be disappointed.)

    5. I take your point about the 3 x 2nd, but one of the problems with the new barcoded stamps is their sheer size. By the time you have a "signed for" label on a small envelope there is often not much space for stamps, so two is better rather than three. Also, I am awash with 1st class stamps after the swapouts!

  8. If Royal Mail were serious about "to ensure variety" and to "provide the option for more flexible use of special stamps for parcels" they would also issue 49p "Special stamps".
    £3.49 = £2 + £1 + 49p
    £5.49 = £2 + £2 + £1 + 49p
    £6.99 = £2 + £2 + 1st + 1st + 49p
    £7.99 = £2 + £2 + 1st + 1st + £1 + 49p
    But they're not so they won't.


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