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The Battle of Assandún (18th Oct. 1016): A 997th Anniversary Special

St Botulf’s, Hadstock, near Ashdon, N.W. Essex, potentially the site of Cnut’s minster built on the site of the battle (Friends of Hadstock Church).

St Andrew’s church, Ashingdon, S.E. Essex (Martin Bates 2009)

with Dr Sam Newton

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 19th October 2013.

The Battle of Assandún was one of the great battles of English history. It was the bloody climax of over 20 years of Anglo-Danish warfare and the victory through which the Danish king Cnút finally defeated the line of Alfred and so conquered all of England. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Ms.E, 1016) put it,

. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Ms.E, 1016) put it

It was a heroic but disastrous defeat for the English, and arguably more historically significant than the Battle of Hastings, which took place almost exactly 50 years later on 14th October 1066. Yet Assandún is far less well-known than Hastings. Even the location of the battle is a matter of controversy – the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that it was in Essex, but was it Ashingdon (back cover) in the south-east or near Ashdon (front cover) in the north-west of the county?
We shall reconsider the background and particular drama of the year 1016 (the year of five battles) using the evidence of the near contemporary entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Old Norse skaldic poetry, as well as the question of the site of the battle in the Essex landscape.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day)
  10:00 Coffee on arrival  
  10:15 Denmark and England in the late 10th Century  
  11:15 Coffee  
  11:45 The Danish Conquest of England  
  12:45 Lunch break  
  14:00 1016: The Year of Five Battles  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 King Cnút the Great  
  16:20 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D. in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald (2003). He has lectured widely around the country as an independent scholar and has contributed to many radio and television programmes. He is also a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008).
Backhouse, J. (ed.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum 1984).
Campbell, J., The Anglo-Saxons (Phaidon 1982)
Cooper, J., The Battle of Maldon: Fiction and Fact (Hambledon 1993).
Garmonsway, G., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1953, 1975).
Hart, C., The Danelaw (Hambledon 1992), pp.533-551.
Howard, I., Swein Forkbeard's Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017 (Boydell & Brewer 2003)
Jones, G., A History of the Vikings (2nd ed., Oxford 1984).
Lawson, M. K., Cnut, The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century, The Medieval World Series (Longman 1994)
Magnusson, Magnus, The Vikings (rev.ed. Tempus 2000).
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson (eds), A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986, etc.).
Page, R.I., Chronicles of the Vikings: Records, Memorials and Myths (British Museum Press, 2000)
Rumble, A. (ed.), The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark and Norway, Studies in the Early History of Britain Series, 10-26 (Leicester 1994)
Stenton, F., Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1971)
Swanton, M. (ed.), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
Townend, M., English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse (English Place-Name Society, Nottingham 1998)
Turville-Petre, G., The Heroic Age of Scandinavia (London 1951, 1976)
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are 38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send payment to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

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