Wessex Strikes Back! 878 A.D. (Flaunden, October 2018)

Following his escape from Chippenham when the Danes struck in midwinter, King Alfred and his most faithful followers fled to seek refuge in the Somerset fens on the isle of Athelney- an area well-known to Alfred as a hunting preserve.
The Englisc folk fortified the isle at Easter, and ventured out at times to harry the heathen. Alfred took council with his witan. Good news was that Ubba, raiding Devon with 23 ships, was brought to battle by the Defnascir fyrd led by Ealdorman Odda and defeated, losing his life, and his raven banner.

Word was sent out, carried by trusted messengers, for the fyrd to gather seven weeks after Easter. The Danes round about guessed something was going on, but not what or where. The messengers had to evade them and bring news to those loyal to Alfred – the muster-place was to be Ecgbert’s Stone! The Vikings did not manage to prevent the muster from occurring, and those scouts who saw the fyrd fled back to report.

Alfred led his fyrd to Ethandun, where they met with the Viking army and put it to flight – for they had much to avenge. The survivors of the heathen host fled to their fort: a band of Englisc sought to block their way, but were defeated and they gained the safety of the fort. Alfred laid siege – and, as at Exeter, and Nottingham before that, there was stalemate – the Englisc could not get in without great loss, but the Danes could not get out. As food ran low, peace was made, and oaths and hostages were given – and, wondrous miracle! Guthrum agreed that he would be baptised and become a Christian!

There was doubt about this, as the heathen had proved false to their oaths before – but three weeks later, Guthrum came to Alfred at Wedmore and was baptised as Aethelstan. That night, Englisc and Danes feasted alongside one another.

So – now it seems that all three sons of Ragnar Lothbrok are dead, and Guthrum has become the Christian Aethelstan. Now, perhaps, there will be peace in these lands….

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