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Yorkshire- Home To Britain's Bloodiest Battle-Sites!


JohnEBoy
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Between all four Yorkshires of the compass point, we have the dubious honour of being home to some of the most bloody and horrific battles ever fought in Britain.

From the violence of the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans, through various medieval struggles such as the War of the Roses (1455-85), to the brutal English Civil War (1642-51), Yorkshire has seen them all, including -

Northallerton (1138)

Myton (1319)

Boroughbridge (1322)

Wakefield (1460)

Fulford Gate (1066)

But perhaps three rank amongst the most bloody and prolific of any ever fought in these isles;

Brunanburh (Sheffield, 937)- A colossal pitched battle fought near Sheffield between King Athelstan of Wessex/Mercia and another, huge army of Norse-Scots, who were eventually routed.

Stamford Bridge (York, 1066)- King Harold II Godwinson and heavily-armed thegns and housecarls surprised a MASSIVE but unsuspecting veteran army of Norsemen under their fearsome King, Harald Hardraada ('hard ruler'), and after a day of brutal attrition, the English had massacred the Vikings so much theat they limped home in only "24 out of 300" ships.

But the battle which has the ultimate title of 'bloodiest British battle' is;-

Towton (10m N.E of Leeds, 1461)- King Edward IV and his younger brother Richard (future Richard III) lead a MASSIVE Yorkist army of a reputed 25,000 men against c.30,000 Lancastrians. The order for 'no mercy' had been ordered on both sides- such was the bitter division during the 'War of the Roses'.

Fought in a biting snowstorm for 10 bloody hours, over 28,000 men were said to have been slaughtered, mutilated as they tried to surrender, or drowned in the flooding Beck.

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But perhaps three rank amongst the most bloody and prolific of any ever fought in these isles;

Brunanburh (Sheffield, 937)- A colossal pitched battle fought near Sheffield between King Athelstan of Wessex/Mercia and another, huge army of Norse-Scots, who were eventually routed.

Any clues as to where Brunanburh might have been anyone ?

Very interesting read, Thank you JohnEBoy.

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Any clues as to where Brunanburh might have been anyone ?

Very interesting read, Thank you JohnEBoy.

Graham Bell, author of "Yorkshire Battlefields", says it took place near to Catcliffe and Brinsworth. This is supported to some extent by Michael Wood, author of "In Search of the Dark Ages" who says it took place somewhere along the Don Valley. Coincidently the two names fit nicely, just a thought.

Brunanburh

Brinsworth

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Any clues as to where Brunanburh might have been anyone ?

Very interesting read, Thank you JohnEBoy.

Thanks Richard and Siren.

Michael Wood does indeed suggest Catcliffe (near Tinsley Forest) as the site, as does the military historian, A.H.Burne.

Wood says that south of the confluence between the rivers Don and Rother (the latter snakes around White Hill) there was a huge, strategic old Roman fort (one of many in this region during a “dark age Vietnam” as Wood says) on the top of White Hill near the old Roman road, called Brynesford in the DD Book of 1086.

In AS times it was called Brunesfort.

Egil Skallagrimsson (910-990), Icelandic warrior-poet who fought for Athelstan, in his saga he states that the English marched up a long slope and formed on the long ridge of the hill with a river (r.Rother?)to their right and a dense wood to their left (Tinsley forest?), with a fort (old Roman- Templeborough?) on top ('Weondun'[holy hill] as northerners later stated).

This fort was probably one of the old roman frontier forts along what was the southern edge of Northumbria. In front the land sloped away towards a distant town.

Could this ridge/battle-site have been Brinsworth (Rotherham)? 'worth' and 'burh' are OE so Brinsburh could be Brunan-burh.

The "Scots" (and Norse?) army are, according to local legend, said to have camped at Templeborough on the eve of this Aug/September battle.

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Graham Bell, author of "Yorkshire Battlefields", says it took place near to Catcliffe and Brinsworth. This is supported to some extent by Michael Wood, author of "In Search of the Dark Ages" who says it took place somewhere along the Don Valley. Coincidently the two names fit nicely, just a thought.

Brunanburh

Brinsworth

Could it have been a bit further north at Barnborough, between Barnsley and Rotherham / Doncaster. Out of Sheffield but still in South Yorkshire.

This would give an even better fit on the sound and structure of the names.

Brunanburh

Barnborough

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Could it have been a bit further north at Barnborough, between Barnsley and Rotherham / Doncaster. Out of Sheffield but still in South Yorkshire.

This would give an even better fit on the sound and structure of the names.

Brunanburh

Barnborough

Who knows, is Barnborough near to the A1 M1 routes that seems to be a factor in trying to locate the site.

Dennis

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Who knows, is Barnborough near to the A1 M1 routes that seems to be a factor in trying to locate the site.

Dennis

Barnborough is west of the A1 between Doncaster and Goldthorpe

<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&amp;source=s_q&amp;hl=en&amp;q=Barnburgh,+Doncaster,+United+Kingdom&amp;sll=53.800651,-4.064941&amp;sspn=18.356879,57.084961&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;cd=1&amp;geocode=FVG0MAMdVp3s_w&amp;split=0&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=Barnburgh,+Doncaster,+United+Kingdom&amp;t=h&amp;z=14&amp;ll=53.523537,-1.270442&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&amp;source=embed&amp;hl=en&amp;q=Barnburgh,+Doncaster,+United+Kingdom&amp;sll=53.800651,-4.064941&amp;sspn=18.356879,57.084961&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;cd=1&amp;geocode=FVG0MAMdVp3s_w&amp;split=0&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=Barnburgh,+Doncaster,+United+Kingdom&amp;t=h&amp;z=14&amp;ll=53.523537,-1.270442" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

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It all depends if the topography matches Skallagrimsson's description- the wood and river may still be evident, even if the hill has been levelled out?

Catcliffe certainly fits this according to place names.

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Well, proposed battlesites range from the compass points of Britain, as varied as Humberside and Axminster in Devon to Bromborough in Merseyside and Galloway in S.E. Scotland!

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Not one of the sites here I know, but I heard an interesting theory about the memorial stone on the village green at Dore. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains the earliest written record of Dore, recording that in 827 (probably actually 829) King Egbert of Wessex led his army to the village to receive the submission of King Eanred of Northumbria, thereby establishing his overlordship over the whole of Anglo-Saxon Britain: (courtesy of Wikipedia)

However, the theory says it's in the wrong place.

If you look at the map of South Yorkshire and the Peak District, there are several 'Bar Dykes'. In most cases these straddle an old Roman Road., and probably mark a post-Roman boundary. This would be a good way of doing this, as the old Roman routes continued to be used after the occupation and most movement around the country followed these roads.

There is a theory gaining ground that the Roman Road from Brough to Templeborough did not follow the route now known as Long Causey, but came over Wynyards Nick, passed Carl's Wark then over the moor before swinging along near the line of the old, but later, toll road from Fox House to Ringinglow. It then turned and crossed the Limb Brook (Limb = boundary), passed what's now Smeltings Farm, then ran parallel to Hangram Lane to cross the Porter at Brookhouse hill.

The theory says that Egbert's army would have been drawn up on the high ground of the ridge between Ringinglow Rd and the Limb Valley where the bole hill stands, overlooking and barring the road from Northumbria, and it was here that Egbert met and received the submission of King Eanred.

The place would have been called Dore at the time, because it was part of Dore Moor. (It continued to be called Dore certainly into Elizabethan times).

A nice theory, and whose to say it's right or wrong?

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Good post, there must have been many boundary changes over the last millenium? Certainly Roman Templeborough and the supposed site of Brunanburh are, if sources are to be believed, connected.

After the MASSIVE battle of Ellandun in 825, which saw Egbert of Wessex crush Mercian power, Beornwulf's power was seriously weakened, but he turned his attention to E.Anglia, where a revolt had arisen against fading Mercian rule there, under Athelstan 'half-king'. Appealing to him for aid, a West Saxon and E.Anglian army crushed Beornwulf's army, and he was slain.

During the vacuum left by the deaths of Beornwulf, another Mercian nobleman in his 40's called Wiglaf took charge in 829. In a pre-emptive strike, the all-powerful Ecgbert now invaded the crisis-hit Mercia, chasing out Wiglaf and driving any enemies aside. Ecgbert faced the Northumbrians in battle (led by Eanred, their king?), defeated them and accepted their submission at Dore.

According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded Northumbria and plundered it before Eanred submitted:

"When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute."

Roger of Wendover is known to have incorporated Northumbrian annals into his version; the Chronicle does not mention these events. However, the nature of Eanred's submission has been questioned- one historian has suggested that it is more likely that the meeting at Dore represented a mutual recognition of sovereignty?

Egbert then attacked the Welsh in 830, and his great grandson, Edward (the Elder) also received the submission of the Northumbrians, Scots and Cumbrians in 924 at Dore, whatever the nature of the meeting/submission was.

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