Location of the Battle of Brunanburh is pinpointed

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A TV historian believes he may have discovered the real location of the Battle of Brunanburh on a humble lay-by off the A1.

The battle is long believed to have saved England from Viking invaders over 1,000 years ago.

It pitted a West Saxon army against a combined hoard of Vikings, Scots and Irish in 937, and was one of the most decisive events in British medieval history.

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A TV historian believes the epicentre of the Battle of Brunanburh was Robin's Hood Well (pictured) near the quaint village of Burghwallis, about seven miles north of Doncaster and has a population of just 300 people

A TV historian believes the epicentre of the Battle of Brunanburh was Robin’s Hood Well (pictured) near the quaint village of Burghwallis, about seven miles north of Doncaster and has a population of just 300 people

THE BATTLE OF BRUNANBURH

The Battle of Brunanburh, which pitted a West Saxon army against a combined hoard of Vikings, Scots and Irish in 937, was one of the most decisive events in British medieval history.

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, Britain was created for the first time and Athelstan became the de facto King of all Britain, the first in history.

Had King Athelstan – grandson of Alfred the Great – been defeated it would have been the end of Anglo-Saxon England.

But upon victory, Britain was created for the first time and Athelstan became the de facto King of all Britain, the first in history.

Despite the legendary battle’s significance, mystery has surrounded its true location for over 1,000 years, with more than 30 locations proposed across England.

A consensus emerged that the battle took place in Bromborough on the Wirral, Merseyside, but TV historian Professor Michael Wood is convinced it actually unfolded 100 miles away in South Yorkshire.

He believes the epicentre of the battle was Robin’s Hood Well near the quaint village of Burghwallis, about seven miles north of Doncaster and has a population of just 300 people.

The monument was originally on the route of the A1 but was moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s when the road was expanded into a dual carriageway.

Professor Wood, who has presented documentaries about early medieval British history for the BBC, said a battle site on the main route from York down into England’s Danish heartland in Mercia is a far more likely location for the battle.

He said: ‘The evidence clearly points to the Battle of Brunanburh taking place in the region south of York which was the centre of conflict between the Northumbrians and the West Saxon kings during the second quarter of the 10th century.’

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’. 

Professor Wood (pictured) has presented documentaries about early medieval British history for the BBC. The battle is long believed to have saved England from Viking invaders over 1,000 years ago

Professor Wood (pictured) has presented documentaries about early medieval British history for the BBC. The battle is long believed to have saved England from Viking invaders over 1,000 years ago

Professor Wood (pictured) has presented documentaries about early medieval British history for the BBC. The battle is long believed to have saved England from Viking invaders over 1,000 years ago

Professor Wood said a battle site on the main route from York down into England's Danish heartland in Mercia (pictured) is a far more likely location for the battle

Professor Wood said a battle site on the main route from York down into England's Danish heartland in Mercia (pictured) is a far more likely location for the battle

Professor Wood said a battle site on the main route from York down into England’s Danish heartland in Mercia (pictured) is a far more likely location for the battle

A consensus emerged that the battle took place in Bromborough on the Wirral, Merseyside, but TV historian Professor Michael Wood is convinced it actually unfolded 100 miles away in South Yorkshire

A consensus emerged that the battle took place in Bromborough on the Wirral, Merseyside, but TV historian Professor Michael Wood is convinced it actually unfolded 100 miles away in South Yorkshire

A consensus emerged that the battle took place in Bromborough on the Wirral, Merseyside, but TV historian Professor Michael Wood is convinced it actually unfolded 100 miles away in South Yorkshire

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.

The name Bromborough comes from an Old English place name Brunanburh or ‘Bruna’s fort’ which is the same as the battle.

But Prof Wood argues the case for Bromborough being the location of the battle ‘rests on the name alone’.

The monument was originally on the route of the A1 but was moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s when the road was expanded into a dual carriageway. The old Great North Road passes Robin Hood's Well in 1906

The monument was originally on the route of the A1 but was moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s when the road was expanded into a dual carriageway. The old Great North Road passes Robin Hood's Well in 1906

The monument was originally on the route of the A1 but was moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s when the road was expanded into a dual carriageway. The old Great North Road passes Robin Hood’s Well in 1906

A TV historian believes he may have discovered the real location of the Battle of Brunanburh on a humble lay-by off the A1 (pictured). He gives six main reasons as evidence

A TV historian believes he may have discovered the real location of the Battle of Brunanburh on a humble lay-by off the A1 (pictured). He gives six main reasons as evidence

A TV historian believes he may have discovered the real location of the Battle of Brunanburh on a humble lay-by off the A1 (pictured). He gives six main reasons as evidence

SIX REASONS THE BATTLE TOOK PLACE IN SOUTH YORKSHIRE

Most people believe the Battle of Brunanburh took place in Bromborough on the Wirral, Merseyside.

But TV historian Professor Michael Wood is convinced it actually unfolded 100 miles away in South Yorkshire,  near the quaint village of Burghwallis.

He gives six main reasons as evidence for the battle’s location in South Yorkshire: 

1 – He says a battle site on the main route from York down into England’s Danish heartland in Mercia is a far more likely location for the battle. 

The region south of York was the centre of conflict between the Northumbrians and the West Saxon kings during the second quarter of the 10th century. 

2 – The name Bromborough comes from an Old English place name Brunanburh or ‘Bruna’s fort’ which is the same as the battle.

But Professor Wood argues the case for Bromborough being the location of the battle ‘rests on the name alone’.

He says Bromborough is not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book and doesn’t appear until the 12th century.

3 – There are also doubts about whether Brunanburh should be spelt with a single or double ‘n’, as it was by several 10th and 11th century chroniclers.

Altering the spelling to a double ‘n’ and Brunnanburh changes the Old English meaning from ‘Bruna’s fort’ to ‘the fort at the spring’, which could refer to Robin Hood’s Well.

4 – Professor Wood highlights a poem in 1122 in which John of Worcester reported Anlaf’s fleet landed in the Humber, the opposite side of the country to the Wirral.

5 – And a lost 10th century poem quoted by William of Malmesbury says the Northumbrians submitted to the invaders at or near York, implying the invaders were in Yorkshire in the prelude to the battle.

6 – An early Northumbrian source, the Historia Regum, gives an alternative name for the battle site – Wendun.

Professor Wood said this could be interpreted as ‘the dun by the Went’ or ‘Went Hill’ in south Yorkshire, near to Robin Hood’s Well.

 

He says Bromborough is not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book and doesn’t appear until the 12th century.

There are also doubts about whether Brunanburh should be spelt with a single or double ‘n’, as it was by several 10th and 11th century chroniclers.

Altering the spelling to a double ‘n’ and Brunnanburh changes the Old English meaning from ‘Bruna’s fort’ to ‘the fort at the spring’, which could refer to Robin Hood’s Well.

Prof Wood highlights a poem in 1122 in which John of Worcester reported Anlaf’s fleet landed in the Humber, the opposite side of the country to the Wirral.

And a lost 10th century poem quoted by William of Malmesbury says the Northumbrians submitted to the invaders at or near York, implying the invaders were in Yorkshire in the prelude to the battle.

An early Northumbrian source, the Historia Regum, gives an alternative name for the battle site – Wendun.

The A1 passes Robin Hood's well in the 1950's.  Prof Wood argues the case for Bromborough being the location of the battle 'rests on the name alone'

The A1 passes Robin Hood's well in the 1950's.  Prof Wood argues the case for Bromborough being the location of the battle 'rests on the name alone'

The A1 passes Robin Hood’s well in the 1950’s.  Prof Wood argues the case for Bromborough being the location of the battle ‘rests on the name alone’

Prof Wood believes the epicentre of the battle was Robin's Hood Well about seven miles north of Doncaster (pictured). The original site is in yellow and today's site is pictured in green

Prof Wood believes the epicentre of the battle was Robin's Hood Well about seven miles north of Doncaster (pictured). The original site is in yellow and today's site is pictured in green

Prof Wood believes the epicentre of the battle was Robin’s Hood Well about seven miles north of Doncaster (pictured). The original site is in yellow and today’s site is pictured in green

The monument moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s. Altering the spelling to a double 'n' and Brunnanburh changes the Old English meaning from 'Bruna's fort' to 'the fort at the spring', which could refer to Robin Hood's Well

The monument moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s. Altering the spelling to a double 'n' and Brunnanburh changes the Old English meaning from 'Bruna's fort' to 'the fort at the spring', which could refer to Robin Hood's Well

The monument moved a few hundred yards south in the 1960s. Altering the spelling to a double ‘n’ and Brunnanburh changes the Old English meaning from ‘Bruna’s fort’ to ‘the fort at the spring’, which could refer to Robin Hood’s Well

Prof Wood said this could be interpreted as ‘the dun by the Went’ or ‘Went Hill’ in south Yorkshire, near to Robin Hood’s Well.

Prof Wood, 69, of north London, said: ‘This is one of the greatest events in early British history yet there has been a controversy for more than 300 years.

‘It is strange the site could be forgotten for an event which was so famous and recorded in so many sources.

‘Bromborough has become the consensus especially in the last 20 to 30 years but this is all because of a form of its name which appears to derive from ‘Bruna’s Fort’.

‘Yet Bromborough was not mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086 and there are no references to it until the 12th century.

‘There is no other evidence whatsoever to support Bromborough but plenty of evidence to suggest the battle was somewhere else.

Prof Wood highlights a poem in 1122 in which John of Worcester reported Anlaf's fleet landed in the Humber, the opposite side of the country to the Wirral. Pictured is Robin Hood's Well today

Prof Wood highlights a poem in 1122 in which John of Worcester reported Anlaf's fleet landed in the Humber, the opposite side of the country to the Wirral. Pictured is Robin Hood's Well today

Prof Wood highlights a poem in 1122 in which John of Worcester reported Anlaf’s fleet landed in the Humber, the opposite side of the country to the Wirral. Pictured is Robin Hood’s Well today

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. Pictured is the site in North Yorkshire

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. Pictured is the site in North Yorkshire

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. Pictured is the site in North Yorkshire

‘You have to leave no stone unturned and we have accepted the spelling of Brunanburh with a single ‘n’ but several 10th and 11th century chroniclers spelt it with a double ‘n’.

‘This completely alters its meaning from ‘Bruna’s Fort’ to ‘Fort of the Spring’.

‘The alternative name for the battle in the Historia Regum of Wendun could be interpreted as ‘the dun by the Went’ or ‘Went Hill’.

‘If you are travelling up the A1 into Yorkshire Went Hill is one of the biggest landmarks and a major escarpment.

‘An early 12th century chronicler said the invading fleet landed in the Humber and there is clear evidence the Northumbrians submitted to the invaders.

‘If the goal of the invaders was to re-establish their kingdom in York, what were they doing in the Wirral?

 

 





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