By Nick Arnold
Published Online (2008)
Introduction: Early in 878 an army of supporters of King Alfred of Wessex found themselves trapped in a fort by a Viking army. The siege that followed came at a time of desperate danger for Wessex. Another Viking army led by Guthrum had driven King Alfred and a few followers into hiding in the marshes of Somerset and it must have seemed that Alfred’s death and the conquest of the entire kingdom would follow. But instead of making an abject surrender, the defenders of the fort fell upon their foes and destroyed the Viking army. Although such a crucial battle should have been famous it has been overlooked, partly because it was overshadowed by Alfred’s victory over Guthrum a few months later and partly because the site of the battle itself became a scholarly battlefield fought over by the champions of rival locations. It is to be hoped that by proposing a new site that matches all the available evidence, the present paper will lead historians to a new appreciation of the importance of the battle of Cynuit.