Where was the battle that saved England?

It's one of the biggest mysteries of British history. For centuries, historians have puzzled over the location of the battle of Brunanburh – the clash between a West Saxon army and its Viking-led enemies in AD 937 that helped secure the future of England. Now, having re-examined the sources, Michael Wood offers an intriguing new take

Inside the fort was a famous spring, St Helen’s Well, today Robin Hood’s Well. (© Bill Henderson)

This article was published in the October 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

By early August 937, the news must have made its way across the Irish Sea to the trading shore at Meols, where well-to-do Viking settlers of the Wirral bought their luxuries. It must also have reached the melting pot of Chester, where King Æthelstan’s port officials received Irish merchants and pilgrims. No matter how the West Saxons got wind of what was unfolding around 140 miles to the west, it surely made their blood run cold. For, gathering in the harbours and bays of eastern Ireland was the biggest Viking fleet ever seen in British waters. Its object was the invasion of England.

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