Searching for Brunanburh: The Yorkshire Context of the ‘Great War’ of 937

Searching for Brunanburh: The Yorkshire Context of the ‘Great War’ of 937

By Michael Wood

Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol.85:1 (2013)

Map of Northern England under Æthelstan – Image: Ælfgar/Wikimedia Commons

Abstract: The site of the Battle of Brunanburh has long been controversial, but a consensus has grown over the last few years that it should be located in the Wirral. This article sets out to show that the events of the war of 937 must be understood in the context of Northumbrian history in the Viking age, and that the battle probably took place south of York in the main war zone of the second quarter of the tenth century. A new location is proposed near the River Went, whose name it is suggested is contained in an alternative Northumbrian name for the battle, Wendun.

Introduction: The Battle of Brunanburh, the defeat of a Scottish and Hiberno-Scandinavian invasion by the English in 937, ‘has a distinctive place in the events that made for the ultimate unity of England’ as Sir Frank Stenton put it. It is commemorated in numerous British and Irish sources, and after the Norman Conquest, the battle became the stuff of legend in chronicles, sagas, hagiography and folk tales. The location of Brunanburh, however, is still an unsolved mystery. For the last 300 years or more, antiquarians and historians have puzzled over the question. Over thirty sites have been suggested, but none has passed rigorous scrutiny, let alone gained general acceptance.

Click here to read the article from Taylor and Francis

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