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 Who fought whom, where and when.

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ferval
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PostSubject: Who fought whom, where and when.   Sun 08 Jan 2012, 19:03

Playing about with this might while away a dull hour sometime. http://www.conflicthistory.com/
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Giraffe
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Sun 22 Jan 2012, 19:34

This looks utterly AMAZIN!!!
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 20:10

I had a look at what it had for the battle of Brunanburh 937AD. There were 3 sites, Bromborough on the Wirral which is now the most favoured site. However the other two were Axminster, which has been suggested but not really taken seriously as a site and one near Brighton which I have never come across as a suggested site. Other than a North West of England site such as Bromborough the other suggested sites are in Scotland or a North East England site near the Humber.

Tim
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Hereword Awake
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Sun 29 Jan 2012, 20:31

Or near Brinsworth in Rotherham, as M.Wood said at one time? But yes, the south of England is off the scale of logic.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Mon 30 Jan 2012, 15:00

Col A.H.Burne also favoured the Brinsworth site. Axminster is purely based on two West Saxon nobles who were killed in the battle being buried near there. Burnswork is the most commonly suggested Scottish site.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Mon 30 Jan 2012, 15:52

Hi Tim - I'm getting all nostalgic now. I remember many many moons ago myself and my then amour visited Axminster - she to visit the carpet showrooms (boring) and me to meet a member of the local heritage society who took me on a walking tour of the "supposed" Brunanburh site. The walk was immaterial (both of us knew we were probably just walking around a field of no historical merit whatsoever) but her rendition of the lead-up to the battle and how it went was expertly and interestingly delivered, It is forgotten, even by the Irish, that Amlaibh Mac Gofraid (Olav Guthfrithsson) was intent on expanding his Dublin kingdom to include and consolidate all Norse territories on both islands. He came a cropper at Brunanburh but very nearly got what he wanted later during Edmund's reign. Had he managed to achieve it against Aethelstan and hold it from that point the subsequent history of the two islands would have been very different indeed.

So much did we enjoy ourselves that I kept up a correspondence with her for many years and she even came to Dublin several times to visit me when I lived there (where I could return the compliment once and walk her round some deserted warehouses and junkie dens in the decidedly dodgy area of Ballybough - the presumed epicentre of the Battle of Clontarf, the point of the extinction of the Guthfrithsson family's ambition and power). She sadly died some years ago, but every time I hear reference to Axminster carpets I think of her.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Sun 19 Feb 2012, 10:52

Hi Marc

I am sorry that I have taken so long to reply, I am afraid that finishing my book on the history of the WW2 and post war pipeline and storage system before I completely retire is my priority at the moment.

I had not realised that anyone took the Axminster site that seriously. It is so clearly in the wrong part of the country. I presume that the exact location was on the basis of Egil's Saga. However, as I mentioned on the BBC site a paper set out that it was not uncommen for Icelandic sagas to include their main character in a known major battle.

As a matter of interest, is there anything resembling the name Brunanburh near Axminster?

I seem to remember that you are a bit younger than me and so the amour of yours must sadly have been relatively young when she died.

regards

Tim
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Sun 19 Feb 2012, 12:39

Hi Tim

If I remember correctly there was, at the time, a handful of local "amateur historians" in Axminster who were "carpeted out" when it came to local history and actively sought alternative themes to pursue. One of these was Brunanburh's possible connection to the Axe Valley which was essentially an ecclesiastic tradition originally that later became common folklore in the area. The ecclesiastic origin was namely that the Minster, founded in Aethelstan's time, and the various monastic settlements that sprang up in its vicinity, all maintained that the king had decreed the Danish noblemen who fell in the battle be buried in the Minster's grounds. Personally I am not aware of any placenames in the district which could conceivably be construed as forms of Brunanburh, and tend to side with those who place that district further north. The Annals of Clonmacnoise incidentally, which also refer to the battle, call it Othluinn. This is another "lost" location but its translation from Irish would appear to indicate an area near the Solway Firth, "luinn/lynn" indicating a torrent and "oth" indicating a plain in the area. The Solway Firth, and especially its tidal bore area, matches this loose description rather better than other candidates (even today fishing trawlers must be wary of this area where within a nine hour draw the sea level can rise or fall by as much as eight meters). This huge in and outrushing of estuary water is the original application too of the English word "torrent" and it would appear from the Annals that an Irish/Danish and Scottish alliance would not only choose this location to join up and launch an invasion but also use the torrent to speed the process.

Which is a long way from Axminster. But yet I would not eliminate Axminster completely from the picture either. It was reported by Malmesbury that for many succeeding generations this conflict between Aethelstan and the Great Alliance of enemies was referred to not as a battle but as "the great war", a term which would indicate a more protracted affair than the ASC intimates. Also, there had already been on two occasions . once in Alfred's time and again in Aethelstan's - an attempt by the Danes "locked" into the east and north-east to break out of these confines and launch a maritime excursion round the coast to Exmouth and thereby attack "England" from two flanks. This could well have been a tactic again employed during this "great war", and it is noticeable that the local tradition in Axminster mentions "Danish princes" only and not noblemen from any of the other elements in the alliance.

So, while Brunanburh might well have been in the Wirral, Cumbria or even Northumbria, and while it might well have been the final decisive encounter, it also could simply have been the last of a series of engagements some of which might even have been greater in terms of importance and casualties than the final one. Yet, like Waterloo or Aughrim in other conflicts, as the final battle in such a decisive war it grew to supersede the others as a reference to the whole episode. It could well be that everywhere which has a tradition associating itself with Brunanburh may indeed have more than a grain of truth in its claim and the key to identifying that truth is not a simplistic attempt to associate the battle's name etymologically to the district but to attempt to work out the likely course of a protracted war which, when one thinks about it, involved in terms of allegiance if not participation almost every bit of territory comprising now the country of England, much of southern Scotland and even eastern and northern Ireland.

You can probably imagine therefore why such postulating and supposition might present an infinitely more fascinating historical inquiry than that which carpets provide - hence my friend's enthusiasm and delight in pursuing it via an Irish angle as well. Not an amour of mine by the way (I was employing some nostalgic wishful thinking I confess) but definitely a kindred spirit and I do indeed miss her (she was older than me by some years, which probably helped keep things in the right perspective in that respect - thankfully, since we both derived so much enjoyment from our joint sleuthing at the time).

Hope the book is coming on well - I know from experience how such enterprises, from writing to publishing, can be 1% application and 99% total frustration in their execution.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 11:34

Hi Marc

Have been in Morocco, hence the delay in responding and also the book has not progressed that far. I am not sure as to whether it will ever be published but am writing it for my own interest. It is quite rare to have a topic of such historical importance as the pipeline and storage system that no one else has written a history about. I do have quite a few people reading it already as I put the chapters out. I am now up to about 1980 so getting reasonably near the end although I have yet to make up my mind how I will draw it to a close.

Paul Hill in his book on Athelstan states that the basis for Axminster as a possible site is that Camden says that there were tombs there of Saxon nobles killed at the battle, but 2 Saxon princes were also buried at Malmesbury after the battle. John Herman Merivale in his 19th C poem Devon’s Poly-Oblion identifies Axminster as the site. Also Athelstan had attacked the west Welsh earlier.

Agree that Viking fleets had appeared on the English south coast before. For example according to the ASC 838 ‘a great raiding ship-army came to Cornwall’ but not I believe Norse-Irish with an army of Scots and Strathclyde Britons in tow. Not quite as important as either Brunanburh or Clontarf but I like to point out what I belive is the site of Aethelwulf’s, Athelstan’s grandfather, greatest victory over the Vikings at Aclea in 851 ‘the greatest slaughter of a heathen raiding-army that we have heard tell of up to the present day’. It is an equally uninspiring site close to the large former GLC Merstham estate and where the M15 and m23 meet. But is also on the Harrow prehistoric trackway (better known now as the Pilgrims’ Way) and there is an Oakley wood and also an Oakley house there (Aclea becomes Oakley in modern English not Ockley near Dorking which tends to be the favoured site). There is also a Battlebridge lane near by, a very unusual street name, and a local tradition of a victory over the Vikings.

‘The Battle of Brunanburh – A casebook’ published in 2011 dates the Annals of Clonmacnoise’ to quite late; it is No 52 of 53 listed sources for the battle in chronological order dating it to 1627 when the lost Irish Gaelic manuscript was translated into English. In the notes on the source the suggestion by Nicholas Higham is that the meaning of othlyn is not clear as the Irish Gaelic original form may have been corrupted. However, they suggest the plains of Lyne or Lyme which would fit in well with the Bromborough site. Bromborough is the only place in either England or Scotland that can definitely be derived from Brunanburh. The Wirral Peninsula was also an area with a large Norse population and likely to support the Anlaf Guthfrithson. It is also suggested that ‘Dingemere’ by Cavill, Harding and Jesch in ‘Revisiting Dingesmere’ that it refers to the wetland at Heswell on the Wirral.

I can see no suggestion in any of the accounts of Athelstan invading ‘Scotland’ in 937 as he did in 934. Simeon of Durham states that Athelstan invaded Scotland in 934 but does not do so in 937 when he says that Athelstan put to flight King Olaf. William of Malmesbury’s account clearly implies an invasion of Athelstan’s territory ‘now the fierce savagery of the north encroaches on our land’. In the poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it says ‘they defend, land, treasure and homes’. In a Royal grant to Worcester Athelstan refers to ‘Anlaf (Olaf) who tried to deprive me of both life and realm’. One Welsh poet, Armes Pryn, writes joyfully of the English being driven back into the sea.

Paul Cavill in ‘The Place-Names Debate’ forming a chapter in the Bunanburh book claims that Bromborogh ‘fits the philogical, topographical, and sociological descriptors given in the names; and fits these descriptors in a way that none of the other proposed sites do.’ Michael Livingston, in his introduction to the 2011 book, declares that ‘the case for Bromborough is currently so firm that many scholars are engaged not with the question of whether Brunanburh occurred on the Wirral, but where on the peninsula it took place.’

Bromborough also gets a mention in my book as there were pipeline import and storage facilities there as there were on the other side of the Mersey at Dingle.

‘Anoche mate a un hombre en Brunanburh’
From the poem Brunanburh 937AD by Jorge Luis Borges.

Regards

Tim
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 13:10

I did not mean to infer that the Irish/Scots attacked the south coast. If I recall, the implication I remember reading was that the Danegeld Vikings might well have attacked Exmouth while the Irish & Co attacked simultaneously up north - and again the Wirral is a natural choice in that scenario too, it being "do-able" as a target both by naval contingents from over the Irish Sea and land contingents streaming down from Strathclyde.

Dating the Irish annals is tortuously difficult to do with any exactitude because of the way they were compiled, with bits being added in different locations at different times and being only set together and redacted as a unit late in the process, so late that it is conceivable some of those doing the compiling were learning Irish as a second or third language, being of Norman import or extraction. Interpreting some entries can also be sometimes just as difficult for the same reason as many of them actually went through three different languages (four if you count the odd Greek entry) before being accessible to English investigation. Some words defy translation altogether these days therefore as one cannot with any certainty say that they were originally Irish, Latin or Norman French to begin with. However Irish was by far the most common language used and a lot of the ambiguities can be ironed out through contextual comparison, so they're still remarkably legible for all that.

I still like the idea of Brunanburh being partly a euphemism for a broader conflict over a longer time. However, you're right. Even if that is the case then there still is, or was, a Brunanburh some place - and it would be lovely to know just where!
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Who fought whom, where and when.   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 19:05

Hi Marc

I doubt if the site will ever be agreed. At one time a Scottish site was favoured. Someone appeared on the BBC site who had written a paper claiming to have identified the meaning of the Wendun reference. When Burne wrote 'More Battlefields of England' he dismissed Bromborough in 1 line. Wood and Hill favoured a Humber site too but Bromborough now seems to be the preferred site. I think the chances of archaeology ever confirming it are remote.

Given that following the death of Athelstan, the frontiers of the West Saxon kingdom were dramatically if temporarily rolled back, I would agree that Brunanburh must be seen in the context of a wider conflict.

regards

Tim


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