871: The battle for Wessex, or how Alfred the Great came to the throne.

Since Ivarr the Boneless and his brothers landed in East Anglia in 865 the Anglo-saxon kingdoms of Britain knew no peace. By 875 only ten years later, East Anglia, Northumbria, Mercia and even Wessex all had new rulers. All but one of these kings had been set up at the instigation of the Danish invaders. The exception of course being Alfred the Great, one of the most famous kings in English history. Continue reading

How Ivarr made a saint of King Edmund the Martyr

A medieval illumination depicting the death of Edmund the Martyr by Ivarr's Great Heathen Army (Wikipedia)

After subduing York, and the failed attempt to take Nottingham from the Mercian King Burghred and his West Saxon brothers-in-law, the Danes turned their attention to East Anglia. The Danish army, headed by Ivarr the boneless and his brother Ubba … Continue reading

The second attack on York: The Northumbrians strike back

Medieval walls of York (c) A H Gray

Most people know that in the early medieval period the Vikings came and attacked the various kingdoms of England and that many of them even settled down here afterwards to farm. You may also have previously known that one of … Continue reading

The Holiday is over! Back to work!

My teeny tiny snow man

My teeny tiny snow man

Well I am back from my holiday and even though I had an amazing time travelling around the USA, I am glad to be home in my own house and my own bed. My friend and I spent New Years Eve in New York City, where it was a very toasty -3 degrees Celsius (27 degrees Fahrenheit) at midnight. Despite this bitter cold I managed to last until then to see the New Year in so that is something I can now tick off of my bucket list. Continue reading

How to fight in Anglo-saxon England

Viking shield wall (www.ydalir.co.uk)

Most of the Anglo-saxon battles took place on land and contrary to many Hollywood movies (which nonetheless can be very entertaining) they fought mostly on foot, not on horseback. Frankish texts are fairly unanimous on this point saying that horses were primarily the mode of transportation to and from the field of war. However there are engravings and other such pieces of art which do depict men on horseback charging with spears. This suggests that although rare it was not unheard of, especially in the later period. Continue reading