SITE WHERE ANGLO SAXON WARRIORS FACED THE VIKING-LED ALLIANCE WAS FOUND
Updated: May 7
A bloody Anglo Saxon conflict believed to have taken place in Liverpool which forged modern England is seen by historians as one of the most significant battles in British history.
The Battle of Brunanburh in 937AD saw King Aethelstan's English forces fight a Viking-led alliance in a brutal combat which saw six kings and seven earls killed.
At the time of the battle, Britain was a divided nation ruled by the Celts in the far north, the Earls of Northumberland (of Norse, viking decent) in the north of England and most of Ireland while the Anglo Saxons controlled central and southern England.
Brunanburh saw the Anglo Saxons go head to head with a joint army of Celts and Norse warriors. The site of the battle has been a mystery despite its historical significance, with archaeologists most recently claiming it took place near Liverpool.
The conflict mainly played out in shield-wall clashes where a long line of ironbound willow shields were carried by warriors also wielding swords, spears and axes, The Telegraph reports.
The attackers would throw spears and shoot arrows at the enemy's shield-wall hoping to break the defence before coming into close contact.
Shields clashed with shields and fighters hacked at each other in the brutal battle as they tried to open a gap in the first line of defence before ranks behind would fill in. If the shield-wall broke the savage fighting became even bloodier with warriors slain as they tried to flee.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a collection of annals in Old English, said of the battle: 'Never greater slaughter/Was there on this island, never as many/Folk felled before this/By the swords' edges.'
After researching medieval manuscripts, uncovering weapons and carrying out land surveys, experts believe the true battlefield was in Wirral. It has been rumoured to have taken place in County Durham, Yorkshire and Cheshire.
In 927, King Aethelstan invaded Northumbria, occupied York and expelled King of Ireland Anlaf Guthfrithson's kinsmen, the rulers of York and Dublin. Ten years later, in the summer of 937, Anlaf and Constantine launched their invasion with 'the biggest Viking fleet ever seen in British waters'.
At some point later in the year Aethelstan advanced out of Mercia and attacked the main allied army around Brunanburh. In a battle described as 'immense, lamentable and horrible', King Aethelstan defeated a Viking fleet led by the Anlaf and Constantine, the King of Alba. Anlaf escaped by sea and arrived back in Dublin the following spring.
Had King Athelstan - grandson of Alfred the Great - been defeated it would have been the end of Anglo-Saxon England.
But upon victory, Aethelstan prevented the dissolution of his kingdom in what historian Alfred Smyth described as 'the greatest single battle in Anglo-Saxon history before Hastings'.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described at the time how Athelstan's forces chased after the Scots and Vikings after they had been vanquished, and slaughtered them mercilessly.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
Newman, Jack. “Found - the forgotten battlefield that defined Britain was fought near modern-day Liverpool: Site where Anglo Saxon warriors took on Viking-led alliance at the Battle of Brunanburh is pinpointed by academics”. Daily Mail. London. 01 may 2021. 03 may 2021. <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9532515/How-Anglo-Saxon-warriors-took-Viking-led-enemy-alliance-Battle-Brunanburh.html>.
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