Brunanburh links

Vikings

Viking raiders (from an illustration in a 12th century English manuscript)

A couple of links relating to the Battle of Brunanburh*

1. Ian McDougall’s 1995 article: ‘Discretion and deceit: a re-examination of a military stratagem in Egils saga’.
This discusses, among other things, the various theories surrounding the location of the battle. I picked it up via a post at Medievalists.net.

Update, 25 July 2013: Until recently, the full text of McDougall’s article was online at De Re Militari (The Society for Medieval Military History), but the DRM website is currently being re-vamped so the article is temporarily unavailable.

2. An audio file of the Old English ‘Brunanburh’ poem, recited by Professor Michael Drout. It can be heard at his website Anglo-Saxon Aloud (along with audio of numerous other OE poems).

——————-

*This famous battle was fought by Athelstan, king of the West Saxons, against a coalition of Vikings, Scots and Britons in 937. Its location is unknown. I used to think it was most likely fought at Bromborough in Cheshire, but now I’m inclined to look much further north.

36 comments on “Brunanburh links

  1. If you follow Medievalist.net on facebook you’ll get about a dozen free access articles per day….

    • Tim says:

      It’s a useful site for news etc but I only visit it weekly (to avoid information overload) and I don’t use Facebook at all (probably for the same reason).

  2. Mick says:

    Hi Tim,

    I’ve recently been scanning the pages of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, and the ‘plaines of othlyn’ reference to the possible Brunanburh battle site. I am aware that some scholars have drawn attention to the lower case ‘o’ and that othlyn might not be a true place name, but a combination of the OE preposition oð followed by a regional name (Lyme). This prompted me to see if I could find any place-names starting with lower case letters within the pages of the Annals. There were in fact quite a few – some of which are now obsolete, but I have made note of two in particular that begin with lower case letters. The first I came across was ‘oilfynn’ on page 233, this was followed by Oylfin (238), Oylfynn (254) and Olynfin (261) all these referring to present day Elphin (County Roscommon). Leinster is also mentioned as ‘leinster’ on page 44 and thereafter in upper case (although the spelling differs slightly throughout). Therefore I believe it is possible that the translation ‘othlynn’ refers to a proper place /region name somewhere in Britain.

    My next literary excursion was to the pages of ‘The Buik of the Cronicles of Scotland’ which was a metrical version of Hector Boece’ history translated into verse by William Stewart. I remembered some time ago whilst reading in Vol. 3 of a place referred to as ‘Otolyn’ (page 345) which the author identified as present day Fife. I decided it might be a good time to revisit all three volumes.

    In Vol. 1 page 350 the name appears as Otholyn, and then on page 352 as ‘Othlyn’ and ‘Otholyn’ (twice). Thereafter it is Otholyn (452) Otylyn (615) and Otholyn (624)

    The Annals of Clonmacnoise were translated by Conell Mageoghagan in 1628 and the William Stewart ‘Buik’ some 90 years earlier. The former was written in ‘Early Modern English whilst the latter in Old Scots? – both were difficult to understand. ( I found the LAEME/ LAOS site quite helpful here).

    With respect to the names mentioned in the ‘Buik’ there is no doubt that by ‘Othlyn’ the author is referring to the lands once inhabited by the Otadini / Otalini / Votadini which I believe to be present day South East Scotland, (some sources say maybe as far south as the Tees !) Is it possible that the ‘othlyn’ from both the ‘buik’ and the Annals is one and the same region?

    Mick

    • Tim says:

      Fascinating stuff, Mick. The equation Othlyn=Fife is one I’ve not encountered before. It looks to me like a 16th-century guess derived from a belief that Ptolemy placed the Otalini/Votadini in Fife rather than in Lothian. Also, I wonder if someone c.1500 was aware of AClon’s ‘plains of othlyn’ and tried to make a connection with Otalini. We’re on shaky ground with these late medieval chroniclers and early antiquarians because of their tendency to weave scraps of information into a plausible narrative. I think they liked being seen as custodians of special knowledge found in ‘lost’ ancient texts. So I’m a bit sceptical about lumping the two Othlyns together and seeing both as the same place. I do, however, think the idea is worth pursuing, just to see if a case can be made for it. Has nobody spotted a possible link before? If not (and I’d be surprised if they haven’t) then it’s a theory you can surely claim as your own.

  3. Mick says:

    Tim,

    On the broad assumption that both of the above region names are one and the same, I familiarized myself with some relevant aspects of the history of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Bernicia. This area would once have been the southern region of the Votadini (Otalini). With respect to the influence of the Scots in the region – Hector Boece (Historia) says “…Edward, the said king of the English, after the death of his father Alfred wished to make war on him [Constantine III], and demanded that he return to the English the regions of Northumberland, Cumbria and Westmoreland, which Giric had in the past, in troublesome times, forcefully taken into his own possession…”. Also, from the British Chronicles Volume 1 (David Hughes) “…Halfdan then installed Egbert II on the Bernician throne as a puppet-ruler but he was expelled in 878 by the Scots under Giric, who drove the Angles out of Lothian and Northern Bernicia..”. After the death of Egbert the dynasty of Northumbria ruled as earls under the Vikings of Deira followed by the Kings of England. When Sihtric died in 927 Athelstan took possession of Northumbria. The degree of progress made by the Scottish in expansion and consolidation of their Southern frontier within the periods outlined above is difficult to assess, but without doubt, after 927, the Scots influence in the region was waning and probably in retreat.

    Moving forward now to matters pertaining to Brunanburh. Walter Bower (Scotichronicon) says “…Anlaf and Guthfrith gathered together an extremely large army and invaded the southern regions of the English, laying waste all the land through which they passed until they reached the place called ‘Bronnyngfelde’. Could the ‘southern regions’ be a reference to the southern region of a territory the Scots regarded at this time as their own ie. Lothian ?

    I am now looking closely at the possibilities of a ‘near border’ conflict for the site of Brunanburh. Camden himself suggested Broomridge and Bishop Gibsons map suggests a North Northumbrian location also. It is early days yet, but a chance perusal of Brian Hope-Taylors book on Yeavering has provoked some interesting thoughts.

    If Symeon of Durhams ‘Weondune’ has a first element that contains an oblique case of *weoh (holy?) then the site of the heathen temple at Ad Gefrin (Yeavering) would have been a location that was well known to travelers passing through the area as would the spectacle of the massive earthworks surrounding the peaks of Yeavering Bell – the oppidum of the southern Votadini. There may also yet be a twist in the possible interpretation of Egils ‘ Vínheiðr’, the following is an extract from Terry Gunnell’ Hof, Halls Goðar and Dwarves: An examination of the Ritual Space in the Pagan Icelandic Hall :- “…It is generally accepted that the placename, both alone and in compounds like Hofstaðir (Hof place) and Hofvin (Hof field), must have cultic significance, and should thus be placed alongside other related placename elements like lundr (leah in OE) meaning grove; ve′ (OE weoh) meaning a shrine of some kind; horgr (OE heargh), meaning a shrine or altar and vangr and vin – often referring to sacred grounds.”

    And from Aeon journal :- The archaic Icelandic words vin and vangr are of interest here. Throughout the northern Scandinavian countries one finds these words employed both as prefixes and suffixes in names of sacred fields, farms, and sanctuaries. In Norse mythology, for example, we hear of Odin’s sacred vin; while the dwelling-place of the Norse goddesses was known as Vingolf.

    Maybe even a tentative explanation for the ASC ‘dingesmere’. Brian Hope-Taylor describes the area around Yeavering “.. Thus, unless it can be postulated that these rivers had at the relevant time a more vigorous, scouring flow, it would be difficult to maintain that the choice of either site was determined by the actual or potential value of the Glen and Till as waterways. Rather on the face of the matter, it is likely that the rivers influenced the choice negatively, in that; while they were unconfined and untended, large surrounding areas of low ground must have remained boggy and uninhabitable (perhaps even impassable). Marshy ground still exists here and there despite modern drainage around the North and East sides of the Yeavering whaleback…” Hope-Taylor also went on to describe the general conditions prevailing on the site as “.. The leading characteristic of Glendales climate at the present day is a very strong and persistant W to SW wind, often rising to 8 on the Beaufort scale and occasionally to 12. This is a local intensification of a regional characteristic, and appears to be due to a Venturi effect produced by the constriction of the valley west of Yeavering. The excavations produced evidence which suggests that there has been little change in the wind direction and force, in the last four thousand years..”

    Perhaps not the ‘Sea of Storms’ as some scholars have suggested, but maybe Stormy Marsh ?

    • Tim says:

      You’ve unearthed several interesting threads here, Mick. I’m still inclined towards a location for Brunanburh in the west, between Clyde and Mersey, with a current preference for the region between Solway and Ribble. But we certainly can’t rule out the eastern side and I do think a plausible case can be constructed for Lothian and adjacent areas.

      I’m not familiar with David Hughes’ British Chronicles but any definite statements about Giric tend to send shivers down my spine. Curiosity will no doubt make me look up this source.

      Regarding a heathen temple at Yeavering, I’d be surprised if any significant traces survived the 7th century Christianisation of Bernicia. However, I don’t have the Hope-Taylor excavation volume to hand so I could be wrong on this.

      Here’s a question: does a northeast location for the campaign of 937 fit the context implied in the Brunanburh poem? Personally, I believe a case for Bernicia can be constructed, even if I think it less likely than a western setting. A case for Lothian seems a more daunting prospect, but maybe not beyond the bounds of credibility. Fife looks a much longer shot, given its heartland status within the kingdom of Alba. However, if we put the OE poem on one side as a purely literary text (with little value to the historian) then the geography of the campaign opens up considerably.

      Keep on digging. I’d like to see what else you turn up on Othlynn. It’s a name that seems to be ignored too often.

      • Mat says:

        Greetings folks.
        Not sure if would interest any of you, but I am currently working on an edited version of my MA thesis which re-examines the claim of Burnley in Lancashire. It should be finished in the coming months.

  4. Jon says:

    Hi,

    I’m a fan of Broomridge as one of the likely contenders, primarily because I’m from the NE and love to walk around this area when I’m home. It ticks a few boxes to.
    Tactically it is sound as Doves Crag and Hunters Moor to the north presents a great defensive position that Olafs alliance could have used (There was local legend of defensive ramparts that were from a great battle in the area). The area immediately to the south of Hunters Moor (which is a hill) is known locally as Routhin Lynn. The hill to the south (arguably used by the English forces) is called White Hill (White as a place name in Welsh (British) is ‘Wen’ – ‘Wendon’, an amalgamation of terms not uncommon in the NE), and in the middle of all this is Broomridge Fort. (Which is actually one of a number of forts in the area). The Till lies a mile to the West. The whole site lies in the shadow of Yeavering Bell, and there is belief that at one stage the lowlands would have been covered with water, but this clearly pre-dates this episode as proven by the excavations at Milfield, not far away. The ground matches Egils Saga pretty well, if we can take that as a source.
    The one issue is why this location? I mentioned it is an excellent defensive location for Olaf, and it is just possible that his Army had splintered when heading south (Was Olafs objective York? – what was Constantine/other leaders promised?), quite possibly it was a two or three pronged operation (Olaf sails up the Humber to York? – Constantine marches overland?) that was repelled (Lothian was in England at this time – so far into England may have meant York?).
    As Olafs army withdrew and consolidated they looked for a good defensive position with clear lines of communication and possible reinforcement – which would explain Broomridge. (This area was later used for defence by James IV of Scotland before he was outflanked by the English and defeated at Branxton (Flodden) 4 miles away.)
    Dingesmere is lost on me, but Broomridge is only about 10 miles from the coast, which could be have achieved in around 4 hours of pursuit.
    I have put some pictures of the area on Flickr and on my website, which contains some of the sources.
    I enjoyed your posts – thanks.

    Jon

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for visiting, Jon. I didn’t know much about the Broomridge theory so it’s useful to see the details laid out in your summary above. I’ve tended to lean towards a northwestern location for Brunanburh but a site in the former kingdom of Bernicia sounds viable too. It wouldn’t, for instance, run up against the main problem I have with locations further south (such as Bromborough) which I’m increasingly seeing as unfeasible destinations for the forces of Alba and Strathclyde. Both northern armies could have easily marched to Broomridge from a traditional meeting-point further west, e.g. Caddonlee near Selkirk.

      I’ve added a link to your website. The collection of Brunanburh-related texts you’ve assembled there is a very good resource. I’ll drop by from time to time to see how the Location section is progressing – I hope you find something on Burnswark, which is a site that has been mentioned here at Senchus a few times. Kevin Halloran is the leading advocate of the Burnswark theory, via his two articles in Scottish Historical Review.

  5. Mick Deakin says:

    Hi Tim,

    I’ve been working on the possible etymology behind the placenames ‘Wenduine’ on the Flanders coast and ‘Waendune’ a large dune hill on the West Frisian island of Terschelling. These names bear a remarkable resemblance to Symeon of Durhams Wendune.
    I have noted that Old High German ‘Wajan’ (German Wehen) Old Low German ‘Waen’ are ‘Wind’ words in the context of wind blown. In respect of Waendune and Wenduine ( where the common link between them appears to be large sand dunes). I am mulling over the possibility that both names could mean wind-blown hill? Which is exactly how a sand dune is formed.
    For followers of the Bromborough location for the battle, may I draw their attention to the placename ‘Meols’ on the Wirral peninsular, and also across the Mersey at Formby, where there was once a Raven Meols. Both names having their root in ON melr – sandbank/sand dune.

    Before the Norse Irish occupation of the region back in the early 10thc, could the area have once been known as Wendune – so named because of the extensive dune systems? The original name being replaced over time by the ON equivalent melr (present day Meols).

    Regards,
    Mick

    • Tim says:

      Good stuff, Mick. Is there a way to find out the current thinking on the origins of the Flemish and Frisian place names? If Belgian and Dutch scholars see the meaning of both names as ‘wind-blown’, then I’d say you might be onto something here. Even without recourse to the Continent, it may be possible to ask an expert in Old English to advise on whether or not the Anglo-Saxons would be likely to devise a place-name with the meaning ‘wind-blown hill’ and, if so, whether or not this would be formed as Wendune.

      On the chronology, I suppose one option would be to see Wendune as a back-formation into Old English of a Norse melr- name rather than as an original OE name translated into Norse by Viking settlers.

      • Mick Deakin says:

        That is a good suggestion Tim.
        I have just contacted the Dept of History at Leiden University in Holland requesting their assistance with the etymology of Waendune and Wenduine.

        Will let you know how things progress.

        Regards,
        Mick

  6. Mick Deakin says:

    Tim,
    I must confess that I am also intrigued by the etymology, behind the name of the River Mersey. Eilert Ekwall can give no firm explanation for the origin of the name ‘Mersey’. It is after all relatively recent in terms of river names. Mersey supposedly means ‘boundary river’ (Mersc-Ea) yet esturine rivers of this size and importance usually have Celtic names/meanings that stretch back eons before the Saxon period.

    There are several references in the book ‘History of a Coastline’ (William Ashton) that suggest the Mersey may even have been an estuarine lake subjected to intermittent inundation by the Irish Sea and that sometime between the 5th and 12thc the mouth of the lake was breached and the Mersey became a true river estuary.

    The above book I have used is an early 20th c source, but if there is any strength at all in the hypothesis, then one wonders as to what the name of this huge lake may once have been ?
    There is an old route to the east of Formby that stretches south towards the mouth of the Mersey estuary. This route is presently called Deansgate Lane, but was also once called Danegate Lane, and also once known as ‘Dangus Lane’. The name ‘Dangus’ is sufficiently close phonetically to the Dinges of Dingesmere mentioned in the ASC poem of Brunanburh to warrant further investigation.

    Recently, I was toying around with the the ‘Plains of Othlynn’ reference to the battle and I have reason to believe that Old Irish for Estuarine Lake would read something like ‘gaoth-linn’ (probably pronouned gweelinn). Maybe there is something to look at here also, particularly given the events surrounding the translation of the AOC by Mcgeoghan.

    Regards,
    Mick

    • Tim says:

      The Mersey idea is worth investigating, Mick. I imagine the Bromborough supporters will be pleased if you turn up additional grist for their argument. I’ve always wondered why such a major river appears to have an English rather than a British name – perhaps this needs looking at again.

      The old book about the coastline is one I’ve not encountered before but it sounds intriguing so thanks for the ref.

      • Mick Deakin says:

        From Chapter 117 the coastline book Tim,

        “..The river Mersey, formed by the junction of the Goyt
        and Etherow above Stockport, drains with its tributaries
        an area of 1285 sq. miles.
        There is little room for doubt that in the time of the
        Roman occupation that part of Liverpool Bay inland of
        a line connecting Formby Point and Hilbre Island, at
        the entrance to the Dee, was dry, or marshy land, and,
        not improbably, inhabited. A point which is more open
        to question is as to whether any direct connection had
        at this time been formed between the sea and the
        extensive inland lake which, within the period of the
        Christian era, occupied the area of the broad upper end
        of the Mersey estuary between Garston, Runcorn, and
        Ellesmere port…”

        and also of great interest, from page 124,

        “..Mr. J. A. Picton, in a paper written in 1849, pointed
        out that the Romans had stations on the Dee at Chester,
        on the Ribble at Ribchester, and on the Lune at
        Lancaster, and that neither Antoninus nor Tacitus in
        their writings ever mention the Mersey. We are irresistibly driven to one of
        “two conclusions,” says Mr. Picton, “either that the
        ” Romans display in reference to the Mersey an apathy
        ” or ignorance which attaches to them in no other
        “instance, or that the estuary of the Mersey in its
        ” present form did not exist”.

        • Tim says:

          Strange to see Ashton quoting Picton’s remarks about the apparent absence of Roman activity on the lower Mersey. Picton can probably be excused his omission of the settlement at Wilderspool if it lay as yet undiscovered in the 1840s (it was certainly well-known by 1886, when Watkin mentioned it in his history of Cheshire) but Ashton writing in 1920 should have known about it (your comment suggests he didn’t).

          Let us know what else you turn up.

  7. mick Deakin says:

    J M Dodgson suggested that the Mersey may have once been known by the name of one of its tributary rivers the River Tame.
    It is unusual that the three tributary rivers of the Mersey, the Tame,Goyt and Etherow all appear to have pre-English names whilst the Mersey is English in origin.

    A thought occurred to me earlier Tim !

    If the Mersey was once known as the ‘Humber’ then perhaps John of Worcesters account of Anlaf arriving at the mouth of the Humber might not be as implausible as it seems.

    The Humber Brook in Hereford is a boundary stream, bordering the Romano British settlement at Backwardine. The Mersey was also such a boundary river dividing the Setanti and Coritani tribes.

    We may never know :)

    Regards,
    Mick

  8. mick Deakin says:

    That is of course – Blackwardine !

  9. Mick Deakin says:

    This looks like something we can get our teeth into Tim ;)

    The following is taken from ‘The Annals of Southport – A chronological history of North Meols from Alfred the Great to Edward VII’

    The area the author dicusses once bordered ‘Martinmere’ the largest inland body of water (over 3000 sq acres) in England before it was drained for agriculture in the 19thC. The waters of the mere drained into the River Douglas (Astland) – a tributary of the River Ribble.

    A translation from a 1529 deed written in Latin of the rights of Richard Aghton Esq :-

    KNOW all men present and to come that I, John Wodhall, General and special Commissary of Lord Arthur Plantagenet Viscount Lisley, Knight of the Order of the Garter, Lieutenant and Vice-Admiral of the most powerful Prince and Lord, Lord Henry Duke of Richmond andSomerset, and Earl of Nottingham, High Admiral of England, Wales, Ireland, Gascony, Normandy, and Aquitaine, have seen, inspected, and thoroughly read all and singular the privileges, concessions, and donations conceded to Richard Aghton, Esquire, and to his heirs for ever by the mostpowerful Prince William the Conqueror, then King of England, and also all the confirmations of all Kings from thetime of King William the Conqueror, together with the confirmation of the most illustrious and greatly to be dreaded Prince and Defender of the Faith, the last King Henry theEighth of that name, on account of which privileges thepowers possessions of lands and all and singular the harbours within the domain of the liberty of Richard Aghton Esquire aforesaid as well by land as by water and sea, namely from the Cross in the Hose in the Town of North Mylls as far as Snotterston, and so to a distance at sea as far as one can see towards the Humbar Barell in the County of Lancaster…

    Could this reference to a ‘Humbar’ have any connection to JoW account of Anlaf arriving at the mouth of the Humber ? The deed does say “.and singular the harbours within the domain..”
    I wonder if ‘Humbar’ was a lost name for one of the Havens/Harbours in the area of the Ribble.

    Regards,
    Mick

    Btw – I have posted this information on Michael Livingstons website – he maybe able to help out on this one also.

    • Tim says:

      You’ve turned up another intriguing one here, Mick. This obscure Lancashire ‘Humber’ does seem to offer a possible solution to the problem posed by the Worcester chronicle. If you can lay your hands on a comprehensive place-name dictionary it might be mentioned there. The only one I have is David Mills The Place Names of Lancashire which doesn’t contain many minor names and has no listing for Humbar/Humber.

      • Tim says:

        Mick Deakin emailed me to say he has solved the mystery of the term ‘Humber Barell’. According to Lex Mercatoria Rediviva, an 18th-century merchants’ directory, it was a type of wooden cask. Being able to see ‘as far as a Humber barrel’ was a measure of distance from the shore out to sea and was used to define the limit of salvage rights after a wreck, i.e. people could grab the wreckage for themselves, but only as far as a point where a floating barrel was still visible on the horizon.

  10. Mick Deakin says:

    Tim,

    Michael Livingston suggests “humber” relates to Latin “shadow” and thus means “dark river” – it is therefore worth noting that the River Douglas, once the major inflow/outflow of the lost ‘Martinmere’ probably has its origins in gaelic ‘Dubh Glais’ – Dark River.

    Mick

    • Tim says:

      As the Humber is a major estuary I’d expect it to have a name of Brittonic origin rather than a name related to Latin umbr-, ‘shadow…’. However, the earliest recorded forms are Anglo-Saxon and don’t at the moment offer an obvious Brittonic explanation.

      One possibility is that the Lancashire ‘Humbar’ is a late name inspired by the Yorkshire estuary. In the 1529 document it appears to have a maritime connection, which might mean that it was a name coined by seafarers familiar with Yorkshire coastal waters. It might be an interesting exercise to see if the approximate position of Humbar Barell can be fixed by matching the document to a modern map.

      The Lancashire river Douglas is certainly Celtic ‘black stream’, but the derivation is Brittonic *dubo-glassio (Modern Welsh du-glas) rather than the Gaelic equivalent. Dawlish in Devon has the same origin.

  11. Buannan says:

    The “Humber” having such a large estuary, and an especially sheltered one at that protected as it is from the northsea by a long extended sand spit making it a natural harbour/safe haven, is likely to be indo-european in origin as are most of the main east coast rivers.

    • Tim says:

      Agreed, although I prefer to narrow Indo-European down to one of the Insular languages – in this case Brittonic.

      • Tim says:

        …..and, taking Buannan’s point further, I wonder if a common Indo-European element -mbr- might have survived as an archaism in some early Brittonic dialects. A specialist in I-E could probably shed more light.

  12. Damo says:

    Hi Tim

    I think Ive just found Brunanburh

    This Viking coin was found at Curedale

    http://www.yorkcoins.com/h1411_%E2%80%93_viking_england,_danelaw,_%E2%80%9Corsnaforda%E2%80%9D_type,_imitating_alfred_the_grea.htm

    The moneyer is Bernvald, also called Burnvald on similar coins.

    Orsnaford is Heasanford in Burnley.

    The Anglo-Saxons changed Burn to it to Brun. Both languages remained in Burnley’s naming by the was – Brunlea & Burnlea

    Curedale turned up masses of coins minted in York, & Burnley lies slap bang on the Dublin-Ribble-Humber line, & also provides the missing link in a chain of forts between Manchester & Skipton

  13. Damo says:

    Hi Tim

    Ive just posted a blog which should seal Burnley

    http://blog.damowords.co.uk/

    The Vikings did indeed come in via the Humber. From there they took York then travelled across the Pennines to be near their supply route via the Ribble.

    • Tim says:

      Nice blogpost. It will be interesting to see what response it gets from other folk who have their own ideas about the battle. I’m still sitting on the fence as far as Brunanburh is concerned, but it’s always good to see the growing consensus around Bromborough being questioned. I fear the Wirral idea is on its way to becoming a ‘factoid’, when it’s still only one theory among several.

      • damo says:

        Ive found a couple more conncetions with the battle & Burnley

        Brunanburh is also named ‘Wendune’ by Symeon of Durham, the Wen- element remaining in the village of hWinwall, next to the battlefield (near Colne) & the name ‘Vinheath’ given by Egil’s Saga. Both ‘heath’ & ‘dune’ relate to the wide, raised land that the field lies on, as the word dun being, ‘consistenly used for a low hill with a fairly extensive summit which provided a sood settlement-site in open country (Margaret Gelling). One final named for the battle, on ‘The Plains of Othlynn (Annals of Clonmacnoise) connects to the Domesday Book’s Othlei, for Otley, whose lands stretched at least as far as Ilkley, a few short miles from the field.

        damo

  14. damo says:

    Hi Tim

    I’ve just posted a blog which deals with how the ‘Wirral Set’ reacted to my findings about Brunanburh – including the evidence which really should put the Bromborough theory to bed

    http://blog.damowords.co.uk/?p=1719

    • Tim says:

      Interesting to hear that the Brunanburh heritage trail is apparently up-and-running. I must go and see it for myself.

      I’m no expert on place-names but I don’t think the brun/bruna argument is fatal to your Burnley theory (any more than it is fatal to Burnswark). For me, the jury is still out on the question of where the battle was fought. The only certainty I can see at the moment is that the case for Bromborough leaves several important boxes unticked. For example, I have yet to see a plausible explanation of how the royal armies of Alba and Strathclyde got to the Wirral. This is not a problem for Burnswark, nor indeed for Burnley, but it remains a big problem for Bromborough.

  15. Mick says:

    The Podcast link to last years Brunanburh debate at Nottingham. Presentations given by Cavill,Wood and Woolf.

    http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/csva/events/norse-and-viking-seminar.aspx

    Regards,
    Mick

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for posting the link, Mick. Very useful to hear the contrasting theories of Cavill and Wood, together with Woolf’s more neutral stance (and his reminder that the debate needs to be kept open).

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