> When researching the history of Dublin, I actually came across a
> reference to longphorts described as viking defended ship harbours.
The word seems to have become part of the "semi-English" vocabulary
of historians writing about the Viking period. I see that Ó Cróinín
(_Early Medieval Ireland_) entitles one of his subsections in the
chapter about the Viking age "The First 'Longphorts'". He begins
"The year AD 841 saw another new development: the establishment
of naval camps ('longphort') by the Vikings at Linn Duachill..."
This is clearly a reference to the Annals of Ulster for the year
841. Here are the original and the translation from CELT:
> Longport oc Linn Duachaill asar orta tuatha & cealla Tethbai.
> Longport oc Duiblinn as-rorta Laigin & Oi Neill etir tuatha
> & cealla co rice Sliabh Bledhma.
> There was a naval camp at Linn Duachaill from which the peoples
> and churches of Tethba were plundered. There was a naval camp
> at Duiblinn from which the Laigin and the Uí Néill were plundered,
> both states and churches, as far as Sliab Bladma.
Ó Cróinín follows the translation in calling this a "naval camp".
"Naval camp" may be defensible, but simple "encampment" would
serve just as well, or the later and more solid sense of "fortress,
stronghold. These are the meanings that OI literature actually
supports. Interestingly, the AU translator does in fact turn
"longphortu" (acc. pl.) into "stongholds" and "longphort" into
"camp" in an entry in AU dated twenty-five years later:
> Aedh m. Neill ro slat uile longportu Gall, .i. airir ind Fochla,
> eter Chenel n-Eugain & Dal n-Araide co tuc a cennlai & a n-eti
> & a crodha a l-longport er cath.
> Aed son of Niall plundered all the strongholds of the foreigners
> i.e. in the territory of the North, both in Cenél Eógain and Dál
> Araidi, and took away their heads, their flocks, and their herds
> from camp by battle (?).
This may seem like nit-picking, and probably it is, but I'm still
perplexed and a teeny bit suspicious that (a) "longphort" never
appears overtly associated with ships, moorage, harbours, etc.;
and (b) that it used frequently and widely to refer to inland
camps, fortresses, stronghold, mansions, etc. etc. Could the
"long" in "longphort" be a linguistic red herring?