This puzzle harkens back to late last year when I was building puzzles that were completely themed — although this one is only about 25% themed, including the four longest answers. I fired up my custom wordlist building software and got to work putting together a list of… well, do the puzzle and you can figure that part out yourself!
The subject of the puzzle is something I have been fascinated about ever since watching The Story of English in the mid 1980’s. More recently, we have been obsessing over the various TV shows that fictionalize the period of Viking exploration that began in the late 8th century and culminated in the Norman invasion in the 11th. It is amazing how much the effects of that period are still with us today, beyond just our language.
I knew from the beginning of its construction that this was not a puzzle destined for a publisher; to get the dense theme fill I had to make trade offs on fill quality that just wouldn’t pass muster with an editor. Making that decision early freed me up to have a lot more fun with the cluing, making this puzzle more “chatty” that my normal puzzles. I hope you enjoy it!