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The first period lasted from the beginning of the 8th century down to 954, the year of the death of Eric Bloodaxe of Norway. It is defined as a period of raids for bounty and slaves, raids which grew in number with the Vikings conquering of Northumbria, the Five Boroughs, and East Anglia.
The second period started after 954 and was characterized by the rise of powerful monarchies in Scandanavia, and by the introduction and spread of Christianity within them. Rather than independent raiders, the fleets were now led by kings (Sweyn Forkbeard and his son, Cnut-the-Great of Denmark).
Of note is the relative ease with which speakers of Old Norse and Old English were able to communicate with each other. The number of runic inscriptions that do exist in England, show that the Scandinavian portion of the population was not totally illiterate.