The Battle of Stamford Bridge (25th Sept. 1066)

The Battle of Stamford Bridge (25th Sept. 1066)
with Dr Sam Newton (Independent Scholar)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 24th September 2016.

Stamford Bridge

A 950th anniversary reappraisal of one of the greatest victories over an invading army in British history.

On Monday, 25th September, 1066,  at Stamford Bridge near York, King Harold Godwinsson of England defeated and killed the Norse king Harald Sigurdsson, popularly known as Harald Hardrada, and utterly routed his army.  This was the second of three great battles in the autumn of that year, but it has been overshadowed by Harold’s own defeat near Hastings only 19 days later.

We shall begin with a look the background of the battle from both sides.  The near contemporary entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provide a wealth of information about Harold Godwinsson.  Of tragic significance are the events of 1065, when the men of Yorkshire rose successfully against Harold Godwinsson’s brother, Earl Tostig, and invaded the south, which led to the bitter rift between the two brothers, which is why they were fighting on opposite sides at Stamford Bridge.

Many stories about the Norse king can be derived from King Harald’s Saga, which is contained in Snorri Sturluson’s magnificent history of the Norse kings, Heimskringla.  Although Snorri wrote the prose text of this saga over 150 years after the battle, it is based on near contemporary verse, which he quotes throughout.

Using primarily these sources, and looking at the landscape of Stamford Bridge, we shall chart what we can of the build-up, the battle, and its aftermath.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:          Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:          The Rise of Harold Godwinsson

11.15 – 11.40:          Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:          The Saga of Harald Sigurdsson

12.40 – 14.00:          Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:          The Battle at the Bridge

14.50 – 15.10:          Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:          Aftermath

c.16.00:                   Thanks and 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 and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team.  He is a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

  • Barlow, F., Edward the Confessor (London 1970; Yale 1997).
  • Barlow, F., The Godwins (Pearson Longman 2002).
  • Brink, S. & Price, N. (eds), The Viking World  (Routledge 2008).
  • O’Donoghue, H., From Asgard to Valhalla (I.B.Tauris 2007).
  • Gordon, E.V., An Introduction to Old Norse, rev.A.R.Taylor (Oxford 1957, 1981).
  • Hall, R.A., Exploring the World of the Vikings (Thames and Hudson 2007).
  • Heywood, J., The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings (Penguin 1995).
  • Jones, G., A History of the Vikings (2nd Edition, Oxford 1984).
  • Magnusson, Magnus, & Hermann Pálsson, King Harald’s Saga (Penguin Classics 1966).
  • Page, R.I.,  Chronicles of the Vikings: Records, Memorials and Myths (British Museum Press, 2000).
  • Sawyer, P.H. (ed.),  The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings (Oxford University Press 1997).
  • Swanton, M.(ed. & tr.), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
  • DeVries, K., The Norwegian Invasion of England in 1066 (Woodbridge 1999).
  • Williams, G., The Viking Ship (British Museum Press 2014).
  • Williams, G., Pentz, P., & Wemhoff, M. (eds), Vikings: Life and Legend  (British Museum Press 2014).