DAS Chronicle

The DAS Chronicle is our history-within-history, recording the actions and intrigues of our members within the historical setting of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

The last digit of the current year provides the year we’re following in the 870s from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, so the story of 2016 will be set within the events of 876 (which actually spans 875 to 876 A.D.)

Note that the 21st century location of a DAS event doesn’t have to match the geographical setting of the 9th century story. Organisers are free to set their event anywhere that makes sense for the plot.

Historical Background

The Vikings raided the English kingdoms throughout the 9th century, but these were small raids and the Vikings always returned home over winter. Things changed in 866, the year when Aethelred became king of Wessex and the Great Heathen Army, led by the sons of the semi-legendary Ragnar Lodbrok (Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan, and Ubbe), attacked Britain and didn’t leave, overwintering here. They descended like locusts, stripping an area bare and then moving on.

In 867 the Great Army went to Northumbria, which was ravaged by civil war between the king Osbriht and the usurper Aelle. The Northumbrians united against the Vikings, but both ‘kings’ were killed in battle at York, and the Vikings make Ecgberht the new king of Northumbria. In 868 the Great Army moved on to Nottingham in Mercia, and King Burhred of Mercia got aid from his brothers-in-law Aethelred and Alfred of Wessex to support him in besieging the town- but the siege was a stalemate, and eventually peace was made. In 869 the Vikings again took Northumbria, then in 870 they came down through Mercia to take East Anglia. In East Anglia they killed King Edmund in battle at Thetford, ravaged the land, and sacked the abbey at Medhamsted (Peterborough) “burning and breaking, and slaying abbot and monks, and all that they there found”.

In 871 the Great Army moved into Wessex for the first time. They initially took Reading, but then King Aethelred of Wessex and his brother Alfred arrived and a bloody series of nine battles erupted. King Bagsecg was slain at the Battle of Ashdown, King Aethelred passed way of natural causes, Alfred become the new King of Wessex, the Great Army was reinforced by the Great Summer Host led by Guthrum, and finally the two sides made peace…

The DAS Chronicle

In 872 the Vikings fell on London, and forced the Mercians to make peace. Read about our Sack of London event here.

In 873 the Vikings went north against the Northumbrians again, and overwintered at Torksey in Lindsey, again with the Mercians making peace.

In 874 the Vikings fell on Mercia. King Burhred was exiled, and Thegn Ceolwulf took his place. Read an overview of our year (and what history says happened) here.
Our first event of 874/2014 was The Kingslayer, at which a small group of Vikings raided a monastery on the edge of Wessex, and stole the Kingslayer (the sword that killed the Viking King Bagsecg in one of the few battles where Englisc beat the Vikings), to weaken Mercian resolve and enable a prophecy. You can read about it here.
Our second event of 874/2014 was To Curse a King, at which the Vikings used the magic of the Kingslayer to erect a potent nithing-pole inside Burhred’s favourite hunting ground, giving him another blow to his morale and unleashing powerful spirits against him. You can read about it here.
Our third event of 874/2014 was Before the Battle, at which the Vikings and Englisc both prepared for the battle to seal the fate of Mercia, and an introspective Viking leader, Ivar the Boneless, asked the assembled forces exactly what they wanted. You can read about it here.
Our fourth event of 874/2014 was The Doom of Burhred, at which the Vikings and Englisc fought a terrible battle, King Burhred of Mercia fled, the Vikings declared Ceolwulf King of Mercia, and the Heathen Host fractured as King Ivar died and they were torn apart by arguments.
Our final event was set shortly after, as the world was still reeling from the death of Ivar and flight of Burhred. Our warbands turned against each other, in a vicious skirmish through the woods of Mercia.

In 875 the Viking forces split, with Halfdan marching north to fight the local Englisc, Picts, and even invaders from Norway; whilst Guthrum marched to East Anglia to subdue the Englisc there. Read about our initial plans for the year and what history says happened here.
Our first event of 875/2015 was The Hunt For Ivar’s Treasure, at which the leaderless Vikings attempted to recover gold that Ivar hid after looting Medhampstead Abbey 5 years ago (and the Englisc tried to stop them!) At the banquet, the Vikings received news from their (possible) kings, and faced some tough choices…
Our second fighting event of 875/2015 was Shipwrecked! To quote the A-S Chronicle: “This summer King Alfred went out to sea with an armed fleet, and fought with seven ship-rovers, one of whom he took, and dispersed the others.”
Our final event of 876/2016 was Looting the Looters, where the Englisc ambushed the shipwrecked Vikings as they attempted to get back to East Anglia, and much treasure changed hands.

In 876 the Vikings remained separated, with Halfdan putting down the troubles in Northumbria whilst Guthrum led a daring attack deep into the heart of Wessex. Read our plans for the year here.

Latest Chapter

  • Captives and feuds (Earleywood 2017)

    An Englisc viewpoint

    At Wareham peace was sworn by solemn oaths from the Danes upon their holy ring, and hostages were given to Alfred the king: but the heathen proved forsworn, and fled towards Exeter. So Alfred sent for the hostages to be brought to him for hanging – for what other use is there for a hostage if oaths are not kept?

    It fell to the Cilternsaete to escort two captives to the king – a man called Thorhelm and a woman called Fritha. We were also joined by Eadwulf, a Northumbrian who, like us, had come south to seek safety.

    It was not long into the journey that we saw that there were small groups of Vikings abroad, seeking to free the hostages. The man Thorhelm used his weasel tongue to befriend young Wulfgar, and promised him great reward for his freedom – a gold arm-ring. So the boy, unwise, let him free, and he fled.

    The Danes sought to waylay us, but as they had split into small bands could not stand before us, and we forced a passage along the road. There were several such skirmishes, and although Fritha was lost – freed or slain, I cannot say – we gained other captives, who would decorate a gallows just as well.

    Later, we pursued the Viking stragglers as they headed to Exeter, harrying them, but unable to prevent them form seizing the burh.

    That evening, a truce was called and Thorhelm offered his ransom to Wulfgar – an arm-ring indeed, bit of brass, not gold. Yet further proof that the heathen cannot be trusted.

    This Thorhelm also showed that whilst he might fool a young boy, his tongue could get him into trouble, and not out of it. Drunk, no doubt, he called Guthwald thegn a lowly peasant – which brought the promise of a blood-feud with the Cilternsaete. Thorhelm wriggled and writhed, but was caught like an eel in a fish-trap. At length, realising his folly, and helped by those of greater wisdom, he agreed to buy himself free of the feud by serving as a mercenary (but without pay) for the Cilterseate on two future campaigns, when called upon by Guthwald to do so.

    Later, a man entered the hall, wet and unkempt from the sea. He gave his name as Herjolf, Halfdan’s man, and brought news that the Danish fleet had been wrecked. Surely, this was the wrath of God upon the heathen for breaking their oaths.

    – Herewulf Thegn

    A Dane’s viewpoint

    The Englisc were much impressed with Thorhelm’s generosity to their man Wulfgar and during the banquet gave him a large, ornate yet strangely ugly dish made of silver that is spoken of as one of their most sacred treasures, the very Chalice of St Botolph. Unfortunately, greed overcame some of our folk and the dish was first stolen, then broken into parts and some of them hidden. Grimkell of the Westmen agreed that the dish should be brought together again but had great difficulty finding where he had hidden one of the pieces of silver in his drunken state. He claimed somebody else must have moved it .

    Later in the evening, Halfdan’s man Herjolf arrived unexpectedly, worn from hard travel and bearing news that the fleet at Swanwich was wrecked. Bosi, Hersir of the Holmbyggjar, welcomed Herjolf and thanked him for bringing his news with all possible speed, dire though that news was. Bosi gave Herjolf drink and bade him rest at the back of the hall.

    There was much debate about the meaning of these tidings, and it was felt that Njord must have turned his face against the warriors of the sea-steed. Some spoke of making a sacrifice to Njord to regain his favour, others of sacrificing to a more powerful god such as the Allfather or Thor, to overcome Njord and bring us better fortune. It was suggested that the large silver chalice would make an excellent sacrifice. The wise man Styrkar asked that bones be cast to test the truth of Herjolf’s tidings. Ingibjorg supplied knuckle bones and Fritha and Styrkar read their meaning, concluding that only half the fleet had been lost. This led to much debate as to whether Herjolf was mistaken or whether he had deliberately tried to cause panic. Indeed when we learned that he had disappeared from his resting place, it was felt he might have been a naughty god in disguise, seeking to cause mischief.

    Somehow the Chalice ended up back with the Englisc, who clearly repented of their generosity, being mean-spirited people who do not understand true gift-giving. They refused to return it and took great offence at some trivial remark of Thorhelm’s, threatening him with death and blood-feud, and only relenting when under great duress he agreed to fight for them for two campaigns. Still, the Ostvikingae are known to be mercenaries, so perhaps their leader, my father’s son Hauk, will be able to turn this twist of fate to his advantage.

    – Ingibjorg Ragnarsdottir

DAS Chronicle Archive

You can read all entries in the DAS version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the archive: DAS Chronicle.