Æthelred the Unready – The Lost King

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Republication from Heritagedaily

Battle of Assandun, showing Edmund Ironside (left) and Cnut the Great. (Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS. 26, fol. 80v)


Æthelred II, also dubbed the Unready was King of Saxon England during 978–1013 and 1014–1016.

Under his father Kind Edgar, England had experienced a period of peace after the reconquest of the Danelaw in the mid-10th century. However, beginning in 980, small bands of Danish invaders carried out coastline raids testing defences across England that included Hampshire, Thanet, Cornwall, Dorset and Cheshire.

After several successful Danish raids such as the Battle of Maldon, where a sizable Danish fleet defeated Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex, Æthelred turned to paying tributes to hold off the invaders and keep the peace in his realm.



Ten Must See Iron Age Hill Forts In Britain

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Republication from heritagedaily


A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement

A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage.

The fortification usually follows the contours of a hill, consisting of one or more lines of earthworks, with stockades or defensive walls, and external ditches. Hill forts developed in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, roughly the start of the first millennium BC, and were in use by the ancient Britons until the Roman conquest. There are around 3,300 structures that can be classed as hillforts or similar “defended enclosures” within Britain, all worthy of considering. The following list represents ten of the most impressive examples.

1 : Maiden Castle, Dorset

Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern construction meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable, or it could derive from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a “great hill.”

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causeway enclosure and bank barrow. In about 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned. Maiden Castle itself was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 6.4 hectares (16 acres). Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 19 ha (47 acres), making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe


Image Credit : Google Earth



New research on Alfred the Great

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Republished from The Conversation


Aerial view of the Burghal Hidage site of Wallingford with the Thames in partial flood. Outline of the Saxon ramparts and ‘Alfredian’ streetplan is clear. Image courtesy of the Environmental Agency, Author provided

By Stuart Brookes

Senior Research Associate in Archaeology, UCL

The Last Kingdom – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second series. While most attention will continue to focus on the fictional hero Uhtred, his story is played out against a political background where the main protagonist is the brooding and bookish mastermind Alfred the Great, vividly portrayed in the series by David Dawson.


The Medieval Somme: forgotten battle that was the bloodiest fought on British soil

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[Note by P. Deligiannis:  I apologize for the somewhat “mass” republishing of articles but lately I somewhat neglected my blog. I’ll try  to make amends for it]


Republication from the Conversation

Richard Caton Woodville’s The Battle of Towton.

Professor of Medieval History, University of Exeter


A Battle of the Somme on British soil? It happened on Palm Sunday, 1461: a day of fierce fighting in the mud that felled a generation, leaving a longer litany of the dead than any other engagement in the islands’ history – reputed in some contemporary reports to be between 19,000 – the same number killed or missing in France on July 1 1916 – and a staggering 38,000.

The battle of Towton, fought near a tiny village standing on the old road between Leeds and York, on the brink of the North York Moors, is far less known than many other medieval clashes such as Hastings or Bosworth. Many will never have heard of it.



British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

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Republication from National Geographic News


By James Owen
for National Geographic News

Despite invasions by Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and others, the genetic makeup of today’s white Britons is much the same as it was 12,000 ago, a new book claims.

In The Tribes of Britain, archaeologist David Miles says around 80 percent of the genetic characteristics of most white Britons have been passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters.

Miles, research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford, England, says recent genetic and archaeological evidence puts a new perspective on the history of the British people.


Myths of British ancestry

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Republication from Prospect Journal

satellite(Image credit: Mapbox)


Everything you know about British and Irish ancestry is wrong. Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands

The fact that the British and the Irish both live on islands gives them a misleading sense of security about their unique historical identities. But do we really know who we are, where we come from and what defines the nature of our genetic and cultural heritage? Who are and were the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish and the English? And did the English really crush a glorious Celtic heritage? Everyone has heard of Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. And most of us are familiar with the idea that the English are descended from Anglo-Saxons, who invaded eastern England after the Romans left, while most of the people in the rest of the British Isles derive from indigenous Celtic ancestors with a sprinkling of Viking blood around the fringes.Yet there is no agreement among historians or archaeologists on the meaning of the words “Celtic” or “Anglo-Saxon.” What is more, new evidence from genetic analysis (see note below) indicates that the Anglo-Saxons and Celts, to the extent that they can be defined genetically, were both small immigrant minorities. Neither group had much more impact on the British Isles gene pool than the Vikings, the Normans or, indeed, immigrants of the past 50 years.The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of our ancestors came to this corner of Europe as hunter-gatherers, between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, after the melting of the ice caps but before the land broke away from the mainland and divided into islands. Our subsequent separation from Europe has preserved a genetic time capsule of southwestern Europe during the ice age, which we share most closely with the former ice-age refuge in the Basque country. The first settlers were unlikely to have spoken a Celtic language but possibly a tongue related to the unique Basque language.


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