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BATTLE OF BRUNANBURH
Source: A Perambulation of the Wirral Hundred
First Edition, October 1909
Second Impression, October 1909
Third Impression, November 1909
The scholarly Gibson, editor of the Saxon Chronicle, mentions Brunburh in Cheshire as one of the places where the celebrated battle of Brunanburh may have been fought, and where Athelstan Alfred's golden-haired grandson, upon whom the King had girded as a child a sword, set in a golden scabbard overthrew, and in a great decisive battle, in which it is computed there were 100,000 combatants, destroyed the forces
of Anlaf and Constantine in the year 937, achieving his victory over the allied Danes, Irish, Scots, and Welsh.
Inserted in the Saxon Chronicle is a long and splendid war-song commemorating the event. It says :
" Five Kings lay
On that battle field :
In bloom of youth
Pierced through with swords :
So also seven
Of Anlafs Earls."
Gibson states" that in Cheshire there is a place called Brunburh, and certainly old maps of Cheshire spell Bromborough Brunburh," and there is no other place whose name and situation more closely correspond to the name and description in the Saxon Chronicle. However, Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Hardwick, and some other weighty writers believe, and give some good reasons for believing, that the battle was fought in the country lying between the Ribble and the Mersey. Yet, again, it is argued that the Saxon Chronicle distinctly says :
They won a lasting glory,
With the edges of their swords
By slaughter in battle,
and that there was but one Brunanburh at the time the battle was fought, just as there is only one Bromborough to-day ; that when the Danish King Anlaf set sail from Dublin with his allies, the King of the Scots and the Welsh Chiefs, what could be more natural than that they should make for the Mersey, which, like the Dee, was a well-known and favourite place for embarking for Ireland, and where there was already in Wirral a Norse population on whom they might rely for friendly support. But wherever the Battle of Brunanburh l was fought, tradition alleges that a great battle was fought on the fields named the Wargraves, and many Wirral men look over the fields towards the Mersey in the evenings, and in their mind's
1 Skene, in his "
Celtic Scotland," says :
" The site of the great
battle is one of the problems in English history which has not yet
been solved," but he favours the neighbourhood of Aldborough in
eye behold the Danes making their last stand on the Wargraves, and see the Saxons in stern array fiercely pressing their enemies on either hand the Danish rearguard holding a strong position, whilst the remnant of an army escaped on board their ships lying in Bromborough Pool.