The Battle of Brananburgh

King Athelstan came to the throne in 924 and continuing the work of his father Edward the Elder (son of Alfred the Great), conquered the remaining Danish strongholds in England. He also successfully campaigned in Scotland and Wales and received the homage of the respective Kings.

In 937 amid growing resentment, Constantine III, King of the Scots formed an alliance with Welsh, Norse/Irish and Viking chieftains. The huge army mustered at an unknown location and marched into England with the intention of permanent conquest. The great Athelstan undeterred, gathered his army together and marched forward to send the invaders home.

The numbers engaged are uncertain but probably around 18,000 men were deployed on each side. For the period these numbers were immense and clearly demonstrate the maximum effort offered by both sides.

Little is known of the actual battle, apart from the fact the English army repelled repeated attacks by the allies and finally broke the enemy when Athelstan ordered a counter-attack at the critical moment. We are told by The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that the West Saxon launched mounted attacks against the fleeing enemy and inflicted heavy slaughter upon them. The Scots and Scandinavians fled in the direction of their ships on the Humber and the Norse/Irish headed for the north-west coast.

Casualty figures for the English are unknown but those of the invaders were immense, and are said to have included five kings, seven earls and Constantine's son.

This little known battle (probably because it was us being invaded by our Irish and Scottish friends), confirmed England's position as the dominant power within the British Isles and also ensured that the country would be ruled from the south.

You might be interested in...

ARTICLES