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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:17 pm 
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The Preston Guardian

Saturday 5 July 1856

Where Was The Battle of Brunanburh Fought?
To The Editor of the Preston Chronicle.

Sir,-Before Mr. Hardwick prints his conclusion concerning the probable site of the battle of Brunanburh - a conclusion which, it may be inferred from his remarks at the symposium of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire last week, will differ greatly from the received opinion of the "whereabouts" of this famous fight, -it is hoped, as well for his own reputation as an antiquary as for the value of the archaeological portion of his forthcoming work, that he has duly weighed, or will do so, all that has been written on the subject by authors of proved accuracy and great acuteness. Archaeology in one respect resembles genealogy. "Grant but one link in the chain," and any two families may have mutual cousinship - so concede what may seem a trifling point in an antiquarian investigation, and the subsequent induction will lead smoothly to a conclusion which, though not less fallacious than that of Scott's antiquary, will appear equally unanswerable. In a work so important as Mr. Hardwick's is likely to be, it is of the utmost consequence that nothing should be advanced merely for the sake of novelty.
Mr. Hardwick seems to think that the site of the battle may be found near this town, and Mr. Addison is of opinion that the discovery of the Cuerdale treasure renders this hypothesis highly probable. The names of both these gentlemen carry with them great weight; but there are also heavy objections to this supposition - historical and numismatical, and Mr. Hardwick will have to "measure blades" with champions on both fields. Historians have placed the site of the battle, not on the western, but on the eastern side of the island; not more southward than the Humber, but with greater show of authority in the northern part of Northumberland, near the confluence of the rivers Beaumont and Till (or Bramish). Hume calls the place where the battle was fought Brunsburg, in Northumberland; Camden, Brumford, near Brumridge, in the same county; Florence, of Worcester (quoted by camden), who, like all other historians, except Ingulphus, calls the place Brunanburgh, implies that it was nearer the Humber. In the Annals of England, lately published by Parker, Aulaf and Constantine are said to have landed at the mouth of the Humber and to have been defeated at Brunanburgh, "probably near Ford, in Northumberland." This Ford is within not many miles of the place pointed out above, near the confluence of the two rivers.
Thus, historically, a strong probability is shown that the battle was not fought near the western coast of the island.
The year of the battle was 937.
Numismatically, the objection is founded on this date compared with the probable time of the secretion of the coin and treasure at Cuerdale, which Mr. Hawkins and others, in the Numismatic Chronicle for 1842-3, vol. 5, contend (without contradiction) could not have taken place later than 910. Consequently, if this reasoning be sound, no connection can be traced between it and the battle of Brunanburgh, which Mr. Addison seems to think there was. Nous verrons.
Fully acknowledging the value of Mr. Hardwick's contributions to Archaeology, and in the hope that these lines may in some degree tend to advance the same "painful science," -I am, sir, your obedient servant,
A Subscriber to the Forthcoming History of Preston.
June 30th, 1856.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:19 pm 
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Preston Guardian

Saturday July 12 1856

Where Was The Battle Of Brunanburh Fought?
To The Editor of the Preston Chronicle.

Sir, -I was somewhat surprised to perceive in your last paper a letter signed by "A Subscriber to the forthcoming History of Preston," in which the writer takes exception to my announcement at the dinner of the Historic Society, that I had concluded, after much investigation, that the battle of Brunanburh might have been fought in this neighbourhood. As I consider a newspaper scarcely the proper medium for the discussion of such a question, I should have declined replying to your correspondent, and left my evidences, when published in their properr place, to exert what influence they might upon public opinion, but that an erroneous impression as to my motive might have resulted from such a course.
I conceive it would be logically sufficient for me to request that my position may be judged upon after I have published my reasons. I will, however, believing your correspondent's advice to be both courteous and sincere, for his satisfaction, inform him that I am perfectly aware of the difficulties he mentions, and likewise of the descrepancies to which he alludes. He is wrong, however, in supposing that the site is at all positively determined upon by any authority. The most probable hypothesis, at present, rests upon the merest conjecture. I am not the first, either, who has put forth the claims of the west coast against those of the east for the distinction. He is wrong, too, about the date of the deposit of the Cuerdale hoard, Mr. Hawkin's first conjecture having latterly been disputed by a much higher authority. All the proposed sites are, as yet but probabilities, and I do not intend to claim for mine any more than probability, although I conceive it to be much stronger than any previously advanced.
Nevertheless, I cordially thank your correspondent for his judicious and well meant counsel, and shall not fail to give it my best attention. -Your, most respectfully,
Charles Hardwick
Preston, July 7th, 1856.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:01 pm 
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Preston Guardian

Saturday July 12 1856

Where Was The Battle Of Brunanburh Fought?
To The Editor of the Preston Chronicle.

Sir, -Notwithstanding what has been advanced by "A Subscriber to the forthcoming History of Preston," I am inclined to think that there are historical, or at all events poetical, reasons why this noted battle may have been fought on the west coast of England. By referring to the transactions of the region of Athelstan we find that in spite of all his exertions for attaining the absolute authority in England, "Wales retained its original independence; and in the north there was the kingdom of Northumbria which had not yet yielded to the power of the Kings of Wessex." Sigtric was at this time King of this powerful northern state, and after some defeats he appears to have made peace with Athelstan and married one of his sisters. When Sigtric died, Athelstan seized upon Northumbria and compelled Anlaff, the grandson and successor of Sigtric, to abandon the country. The Northumbirans were not satisfied with their new master, and Anlaff took advantage of this discontent to enter into a league with the Welsh, the Socts, and the Irish, for the purpose of regaining his dominions. Athelstan, however, was prepared, and marching against the confederated chiefs he gave them battle and totally defeated them near Brunanburh. Where this place stood is now a matter of dispute, but its importance, and, perhaps, a clue to its identification, may be gathered from the following extract respecting the battle from the Saxon Chronicle:-
"A.D.937.
Here Athelstan King;
Of earls, the Lord;
Of heroes, the bracelet-giver.
And his brother eke,
Edmund Atheling
Life-long glory
In battle won,
With edges of swords,
Near Brunanburh.
The board-walls they clove.
They hewed the war-lindens,
Hamora lafan.
Offspring of Edward.
Such was their noble nature
From their ancestors,
That they in battle oft,
Against every foe,
The land defended;
Hoards and homes.
The foe they crushed;-
The Scottish people,
And the shipmen,
Fated fell.
The field they dyed
With warriors' blood,
Since the sun up,
At morning tide,
Mighty planet,
Glided o'er grounds;
God's candle bright,
The eternal Lord's;
Till the noble creature,
Sank to her settle.
There lay many a warrior,
By javelins strewed;-
Northern man
Over shield shot;
So the Scots eke,
Weary war-sad.
West Saxons onwards
Throughout the day,
In numerous bands
Parsued the footsteps
Of the loathed nations.
they hewed the fugitives,
Behind amain,
With swords mill-sharp.
Mercians refused not
The hard-hand play
To any heroes
Who with Anlaff,
Over the ocean
In the ship's bosom
This land sought -
Fated to the fight.
Five kings lay
On the battle-stead.
Youthful kings
By swords in slumber laid.
So seven eke
Of Anlaff's earls.
Of the army countless:-
Shipmen and Scots.
There was made flee
The North-men's chieftain.
By need constrained,
To the ship's prow
With a little band.
The bark drove afloat-
The king departed-
On the fallow flood
His life he preserved.
So there eke the sage,
Came by flight,
To his country, north,
Constantine - hoary warrior.
He had no cause to exult
In the communion of swords.
Here was his kindred band
Of friends o'erthrown-
On the folk-stead
In battle slain.
And his son he left
On the slaughter-place,
Mangled with wounds.
Young in the fight
He had no cause to boast.
Hero grizzly-haired,
Of the bill-clashing:-
The old deceiver.
Nor Anlaff, the moor, [armies;
With the remnant of their
They had no cause to laugh,
That they in war's works
We better men were,
In the battle-stead.
At the conflict of banners-
Meeting of spears-
Concourse of men-
Traffic of weapons-
That they on the slaughter-field
With Edward's offspring played.
The Northern departed
In their nailed barks.
Bloody relic of darts.
On roaring ocean.
O'er the deep water

DUBLIN to seek:-
Again
IRELAND,
Shamed in mind.
So too the brothers,
Both together;-
King and Atheling;-
Their country sought-
West Saxon's land,
In the war exulting.
They left behind them
The corse to devour;
The sallowy kite-
And the swarthy raven
With horned nob-
And the dusky pada,
Erne white-tailed,
The corse to enjoy.
The greedy war-hawk-
And the grey beast
Wolf of the wood.
Carnage greater has not been
In this island, ever yet,
Of people slain before this,
By edge of sword;
As books us say and old writers,
Since from the east hither
Angles and Saxons
Came to land, and,
O'er the broad seas
Britain sought
Mighty war-smiths
The Welsh o'ercame-
Earls most bold
This land obtained."
I think a perusal of the preceding will satisfy any one that the battle was both bloody and decisive; but it may be urged that no locality is fixed upon by the poet in his description of the conflict. It would, however, be as easy for the Scots under Constantine to reach the vicinity of Preston by way of Carlisle as it would be for them to join Anlaff in the present county of Northumberland; but when we find the vanquished forces taking to their ships and making for Dublin and Ireland-"o'er the deep water"-I consider we become entitled to ask whether it would not be more natural for them to seek the shores of the sister island by crossing the Irish Sea rather than by sailing round the northern coasts of Scotland? And also, whether this conjecture is not more in accordance with the whole of the extract than the supposition that the battle took place at the "confluence of the rivers Beaumont and Till?" the Welsh and Irish would much more easily join their forces to the discontented Northumbrians near to the west coast than the east, and hence I flatter myself that Mr. Hardwick will have a balance of probabilities in his favour, should he decide upon fixing the battle-field of Brunanburh somewhere near the west coast of the country.
I remain, Sir, yours respectfully.
F.R.A.S.
Burnley, July 7th, 1856.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:55 am 
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Preston Guardian

Saturday August 2 1856

Correspondence

Where Was The Battle Of Brunanburh Fought?
To The Editor of the Preston Chronicle.

Sir, - In my former communication on this subject I adduced authorities which rendered it probable that this celebrated engagement took place somewhere near the west coast of England, and my present object is to suggest a locality which has hitherto escaped our antiquaries.
Bromborough, in Cheshire; Bamborough, in Northumberland; Banbury, in Oxfordshire; and Bourne, in Lincolnshire, have, among others, been suggested as probable sites; but little has been adduced by the authors of these conjectures which will enable us to say that any one has more claims to our belief than the others I now propose to substitute Burnley, in Lancashire, in place of all or any of the previously mentioned places, and for the following reasons:-
1. The expedition was fitted out and planned in Dublin; it was commanded by the Danish chief of that colony, and the remains of the defeated army sought refuge there after the battle. It is therefore probable that a portion, if not the whole, of the fleet sailed up the mouth of the Ribble, since the Roman stations at Walton (Coccium), and the Portus, would no coubt be well known to those hardy navigators.
2. The invading armies would mostly keep to the tracks of the then existing Roman roads, and since these diverged in various ways to Ribchester (Rigodunum), to Colne (Colunio), to Ilkley (Alicana), to Slack (Camelodunum), &c., it is not unlikely that these would form their lines of march from the coast.
3. A complete line of Roman and other forts extends from Colunio to along the ridge of hills dividing Lancashire from Yorkshire, as far as Camelodunum; all of which may be found laid down on the Ordnance maps; and since the Saxon forces under Athelstan would necessarily occupy these lines of defence, it becomes very probable that a severe struggle would take place somewhere on the western slope of the hills of their possession.
4. A tradition exists in the neighbourhood that suc a struggle did take place during the Heptarchy between the Saxons and some invading armies, as is mentioned by Dr. whitaker in his History of Whalley, and the place of the conflict is still known as Saxifield, or Saxonfield, about two miles from Burnley. Human and other bones are constantly being turned up all along this slope, and in digging the foundations for Lower Saxifield House, they were met with in large quantities. Funeral urns, of coarse pottery, containing calcined human and other bones, ivory bodkins, &c., are also found all along the line of forts, of which a more particular account, illustrated by specimens, will probably be furnished to the next session of the Historic Society.
5. The Saxon Chronicle says that the battle was fought "nearBrunanburh;" and Brunley, or Burnley, as it is now written, is distinctly visible from the field. It has been a Roman station on the vicinal way between Colunio, Rigodunum, and Coccium, and is also within two miles of Saxifield.
6. The river Brun traverses the locality and has borne this name from a very remote period. It gives its name to the town of Burnley, and Brunanburh, Brunanley, Brunley, or Burnley, are synonyms, which carry probability almost up to certainty in favour of this locality.
I intend to enforce these views more fully at a future period, when I have completed a careful personal survey of the whole district. The results will probably be laid before the Council of Historic Society; but in the meantime it may not be improper for the Historian of Preston to be put in possession of my views on the subject, inasmuch as he appears to be engaged in discussing the question of the locality.
I remain, Sir, yours respectfully,
F.R.A.S.
Burnley, July 28th, 1856.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:37 pm 
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We had a young chap called Mathew Wall giving us a talk on the battle of Brunanburh at tonights Society meeting.
He has certainly done his homework and made a really interesting argument for the location being in Burnley.

Thanks Matt, a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting evening.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:08 pm 
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I was sorry to have missed that one - it sounded interesting. Long way to swim tho. :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:28 pm 
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It was. Nice to have a guest speaker for a change too

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