The Battle of Assandún (18th October 1016)
A 999th Anniversary Special
with Dr Sam Newton (Independent Scholar)
at Sutton Hoo on  Saturday, 17th October, 2015

Bartlow Mound

The Battle of Assandún was one of the great battles of English history. It was the bloody climax of over 20 years of Anglo-Danish warfare and the victory through which the Danish king Cnút finally defeated the line of Alfred and so conquered all of England. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Ms.E, 1016) put it,
It was a heroic but disastrous defeat for the English, and arguably more historically significant than the Battle of Hastings, which took place almost exactly 50 years later on 14th October 1066. Yet Assandún is far less well-known than Hastings. Even the location of the battle is a matter of controversy – the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that it was in Essex, but was it Ashingdon in the south-east or near Ashdon in the north-west of the county?

We shall reconsider the background and particular drama of the year 1016 (the year of five battles) using the evidence of the near contemporary entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Old Norse skaldic poetry, as well as the question of the site of the battle in the Essex landscape.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                Denmark and England in the late 10th Century

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                The Danish Conquest of England

12.40 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:                 1016: The Year of Five Battles

14.50 – 15.10:               Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:                The Battle of Assandún

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 as an independent scholar 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

  • Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008).
  • Ashdown, M., English and Norse Documents Relating to the Reign of Ethelred the Unready (Cambridge 1972)
  • Backhouse, J. (ed.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum 1984).
  • Campbell, J., The Anglo-Saxons (Phaidon 1982)
  • Cooper, J., The Battle of Maldon: Fiction and Fact (Hambledon 1993).
  • Garmonsway, G., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1953, 1975).
  • Hart, C., The Danelaw (Hambledon 1992), pp.533-551.
  • Howard, I., Swein Forkbeard’s Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017 (Boydell & Brewer 2003)
  • Jones, G., A History of the Vikings (2nd ed., Oxford 1984).
  • Lawson, M. K., Cnut: The Danes in England in the Early Eleventh Century, The Medieval World Series (Longman 1994)
  • Lawson. M.K., Cnut: England’s Viking King (Tempus 2004)
  • Magnusson, Magnus, The Vikings (rev.ed. Tempus 2000).
  • Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson (eds), A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986, etc.).
  • Page, R.I., Chronicles of the Vikings: Records, Memorials and Myths (British Museum Press, 2000)
  • Rumble, A. (ed.), The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark and Norway, Studies in the Early History of Britain Series, 10-26 (Leicester 1994)
  • Stenton, F., Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1971)
  • Swanton, M. (ed.), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
  • Townend, M., English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse (English Place-Name Society, Nottingham 1998)
  • Turville-Petre, G., The Heroic Age of Scandinavia (London 1951, 1976)
  • Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)