Whilst many of us will have heard of the Battle of Hastings, the battle of Brunanburh is a little less well know. Ranking in importance, it’s time to find out more. The location of this battle? Our very own Bebington!
The Battle of Brunanburh in 937AD during which Thelstan, King of England, and his brother Edmund defeated the united armies of Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin, Constantine II, King of Alba, and Owain ap Dyfnwal, King of the Cumbrians, is regarded as the location of the “Birth of England.” It was referred to as “the greatest single fight in Anglo-Saxon history before Hastings,” despite its current lack of widespread recognition.
Despite building strong defences the Celtic and Norse invaders were overrun. Some believe Brunanburh saw the first ever use of Cavalry by an English army. This use of horses gave the English a great advantage. A medieval poem describes the battle and medieval historians described the retreat allowing for historians to guess at it’s location.
Whilst the actual site of the battle is unknown it is generally agreed the most likely location was Brackenwood golf course with the retreat was described as leaving for Ireland through “Dingsmere”. Dingsmere could refer to the Viking “ding” meaning thing, pointing to Thingwall. Another thought is it mean “river/water” place pointing to Tranmere. It may have been a name given the marshes around Storeton at the time.
There are some Urban legends which have sprung up in local lore around the battle. An example being the local “Red Hill” road so named after the river of blood which flowed down the hill following the battle
Following the battle the borders of England, Wales and Scotland were drawn with little change to today’s. Two huge English counties were joined and the idea of Englishness was born.
So next time you are thinking of England’s green and pleasant lands remember that our very little corner of it was the cradle for it’s birth.
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