It was situated on the banks of the river Rhine near the modern city of Wijk bij Duurstede, on the remains of an ancient Roman fortress. In between 600 en 850 Dorestad was often the subject of war between Frisians and Franks. Dorestad was once the personal possession of Charlemagne.
Because of its success as a trading city, Dorestad drew the attention of Vikings, who frequently raided the city (834, 835, 844, 857 en 873). Historians think that approximately 7000 Vikings were involved in the first raid in 834.