Battles involving England - Scandinavian invasions

The Romans ruled Britain from 43 AD until about 410 AD. The Roman legions were withdrawn to protect Rome itself, and no Roman help was given to British people defending themselves against invaders. This period of British history later gave rise to the story of Arthur. Perhaps there was a Romano-British leader who temporarily held back the invaders, but Arthur himself is, alas, just a legend.

The first invaders are generally called the Saxons. Strictly speaking, the Saxons came from Saxony, on the borders of germany and Denmark, but there were different groups, from different parts of Europe, settling in different parts of England. Our language, our counties and much of our culture is based on these groups.

Later invaders were Vikings and Danes. They came Scandanavia, from Norway, Swden and Denmark. Some attacked settlements on the coast, and immediately returned home. Others came to settle, and they, too, are part of modern England (and the rest of Britain as well).

Vikings attack Lindisfarne in 793 (location)

Lindisfarne is a small island off the north-east coast of England. A monastery was founded there around 635. At some point in the early 700s, the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels (see right) was made probably at Lindisfarne. In 793, the Vikings destroyed the monastery, and this was one of the first Viking raids in Britain.

Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great (849-899) became king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex (south England) in 871. At this time, the Danes, who had landed on the east coast, were gradually spreading over England. At the start of Alfred's reign, he lost fighting against the Danes, but eventually he defeated them in 878 at the Battle of Ethandun, probably near Edington in Wiltshire (location). The Danes stayed in England, but were kept in their own Danelaw, in East Anglia.

Illuminated initial from Lindisfarne gospel, late 7th century or early 8th century
Illuminated initial from Lindisfarne gospel, late 7th century or early 8th century

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