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 875/2015 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.

876 was a year of consolidation and establishment of power blocs – you can read our initial plans here. King Harald Finehair of Norway sought to gain control of the Isles and Northumbria – but was driven out of Northumbria at least by Vikings united under Halfdan Ragnarsson, with the Westmen seizing the Raven Banner of Finehair’s forces. Halfdan said the Vikings should secure the north before pushing to take Wessex; but Guthrum said they should take Wessex whilst they had momentum. The Oestvikinga and Holmbyggjar followed Guthrum to war, whilst the Westmen followed Halfdan north – where they got caught up in some very complex politics and all sorts of treacheries between Britons, Scots, and Picts. Meanwhile, the Cilternsaete fled Ceolwulf’s Mercia and took refuge in Wessex, where they aided Anir Thane’s Sumorsaete in defending Alfred’s borders. Guthrum’s forces took Wareham but were trapped there – and the Saxons took Vikings as hostages in exchange for peace.

877 was a year of broken oaths and broken forces, you can read our initial plans here. It began as the hostages broke free, and fled with the rest of Guthrum’s forces across Wessex, seeking to join up with a naval force sent to Exeter… But the naval force was destroyed, and the Englisc scattered the fractured Vikings.

In 878 news came of the deaths of the last two Ragnarssons, Ubbe and Halfdan. Guthrum unified the Viking forces, proudly bearing at least one Raven Banner, and pressed Wessex hard. But the Englisc managed to get word from Alfred, who was sheltering in a swamp, and rose up in great fury. Guthrum was defeated, forced to be baptised and become Athelstan. The whole of what is today England was divided into Danelaw and Wessex.

And so, in 879, a great peace fell upon the land. There were occasional border disputes, and trouble makers sometimes sought to re-ignite old wars (although Hauk of the Oestvikingae’s attempt to steal a Saxon Thegn’s helmet to stir up trouble came to naught), but the two forces had time to rebuild and settle.

But no peace lasts forever, and we’re now entering the 880s. Of course, the pandemic has slightly disrupted our plans! But luckily 880 and 881 are both fairly quiet, in England at least: A.D. 880. This year went the army from Cirencester into East-Anglia, where they settled, and divided the land. The same year went the army over sea, that before sat at Fulham, to Ghent in Frankland, and sat there a year. A.D. 881. This year went the army higher up into Frankland, and the Franks fought with them; and there was the army horsed after the battle.

As we haven’t had any fighting events for a while, and it might be a while before we get any, it is worth thinking what your character is up to in this time!

Vikings, are you settling and dividing the land of East Anglia (this is probably the time that the Holmbyggjar get settled into Osea Island)? Or are you heading up to Northumbria or the Isles, and looking after lands there (off to Canna, or Mann)? Or are you off pillaging France?

For the Saxons, this is probably the time that Alfred really builds up the network of fortified burhs to defend his borders, the Burghal Hidage. They were possibly started in the late 870s, but this was a chance to turn them into permanent and significant fortifications. It was also quite possibly a time he built up his own fleet of ships – 882 features a Wessex naval victory against the Vikings. How might your characters fit into this time of preparation, what are they doing to help Alfred?

One big storyline that we’re keen to play through once we’re all back together is the fate of Mercia. It is in the late 870s or early 880s that Viking-appeasing King Ceolwulf of Mercia is replaced by Æthelred of Mercia – although Wessex always regards Æthelred as an ealdorman under Alfred, not a king in his own right (and Æthelred only holds West Mercia, as the Vikings keep control of the East). One of Æthelred’s first actions (possibly once he is in charge, or possibly under Ceolwulf) is an invasion of Wales, but he is roundly beaten at the Battle of Conwy in 881. Hauk and Herewulf both have plans for events that could be themed around this storyline and the shifting sands in Mercia, which they’d hoped to run this year but look forward to running when we can.

Looking further forward, the 880s are also characterised by Alfred going on the attack: fighting in London, Rochester, Stourmouth… Plus treachery from the Vikings in East Anglia, and no doubt plenty of border skirmishes! But there are fewer large sweeping changes in political leaders, so it should be a good time to focus more on our personal stories and rivalries and less on “wait, who is king now?”

Latest Chapter

  • DAS Chronicles – Into The 880s!

    Since 2014, DAS has been following the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the 870s, year-by-year, trying to see how our units would have fitted in to the wars and treacheries of that time. It’s been lots of fun, and we’d like to continue it into the 880s…

    But first, a reminder of what’s already happened, as the 870s saw sweeping changes across Britain, with the Vikings and Saxons both suffering terrible losses and celebrating great victories.
    In 872 London was sacked by the Vikings, and the Viking units of DAS fell upon the refugees being escorted to safety by the Saxon units.
    In 874, a series of events finally saw King Burhred of Mercia driven from his lands, with King Ceolwulf taking his place and inviting Vikings to settle there – an expensively bought peace! However, Ivar Ragnarsson of the Vikings died in the battle winning the peace, leaving the Vikings without a clear leader…
    In 875 the Vikings quarrelled over who should rule them. Meanwhile, King Alfred of Wessex stepped up to claim he was the natural leader of all free Englisc, harrying the sea-raiders and looting the looters.
    In 876, King Harald Finehair of Norway sought to gain control of the Isles and Northumbria – but was driven out of Northumbria at least by Vikings united under Halfdan Ragnarsson, with the Westmen seizing the Raven Banner of Finehair’s forces. Halfdan said the Vikings should secure the north before pushing to take Wessex; but Guthrum said they should take Wessex whilst they had momentum. The Oestvikinga and Holmbyggjar followed Guthrum to war, whilst the Westmen followed Halfdan north – where they got caught up in some very complex politics and all sorts of treacheries between Britons, Scots, and Picts. Meanwhile, the Cilternsaete fled Ceolwulf’s Mercia and took refuge in Wessex, where they aided Anir Thane’s Sumorsaete in defending Alfred’s borders. Guthrum’s forces took Wareham but were trapped there – and the Saxons took Vikings as hostages in exchange for peace.
    In 877 the hostages broke free, and fled with the rest of Guthrum’s forces across Wessex, seeking to join up with a naval force sent to Exeter… But the naval force was destroyed, and the Englisc scattered the fractured Vikings.
    In 878 news came of the deaths of the last two Ragnarssons, Ubbe and Halfdan. Guthrum unified the Viking forces, proudly bearing at least one Raven Banner, and pressed Wessex hard. But the Englisc managed to get word from Alfred, who was sheltering in a swamp, and rose up in great fury. Guthrum was defeated, forced to be baptised and become Athelstan. The whole of what is today England was divided into Danelaw and Wessex.
    And so, in 879, a great peace fell upon the land. There were occasional border disputes, and trouble makers sometimes sought to re-ignite old wars (although Hauk of the Oestvikingae’s attempt to steal a Saxon Thegn’s helmet to stir up trouble came to naught), but the two forces had time to rebuild and settle.

    But no peace lasts forever, and we’re now entering the 880s. Of course, the pandemic has slightly disrupted our plans! But luckily 880 and 881 are both fairly quiet, in England at least:
    A.D. 880. This year went the army from Cirencester into East-Anglia, where they settled, and divided the land. The same year went the army over sea, that before sat at Fulham, to Ghent in Frankland, and sat there a year.
    A.D. 881. This year went the army higher up into Frankland, and the Franks fought with them; and there was the army horsed after the battle.

    As we haven’t had any fighting events for a while, and it might be a while before we get any, it is worth thinking what your character is up to in this time!

    Vikings, are you settling and dividing the land of East Anglia (this is probably the time that the Holmbyggjar get settled into Osea Island)? Or are you heading up to Northumbria or the Isles, and looking after lands there (off to Canna, or Mann)? Or are you off pillaging France?

    For the Saxons, this is probably the time that Alfred really builds up the network of fortified burhs to defend his borders, the Burghal Hidage. They were possibly started in the late 870s, but this was a chance to turn them into permanent and significant fortifications. It was also quite possibly a time he built up his own fleet of ships – 882 features a Wessex naval victory against the Vikings. How might your characters fit into this time of preparation, what are they doing to help Alfred?

    One big storyline that we’re keen to play through once we’re all back together is the fate of Mercia. It is in the late 870s or early 880s that Viking-appeasing King Ceolwulf of Mercia is replaced by Æthelred of Mercia – although Wessex always regards Æthelred as an ealdorman under Alfred, not a king in his own right (and Æthelred only holds West Mercia, as the Vikings keep control of the East). One of Æthelred’s first actions (possibly once he is in charge, or possibly under Ceolwulf) is an invasion of Wales, but he is roundly beaten at the Battle of Conwy in 881. Hauk and Herewulf both have plans for events that could be themed around this storyline and the shifting sands in Mercia, which they’d hoped to run this year but look forward to running when we can.

    Looking further forward, the 880s are also characterised by Alfred going on the attack: fighting in London, Rochester, Stourmouth… Plus treachery from the Vikings in East Anglia, and no doubt plenty of border skirmishes! But there are fewer large sweeping changes in political leaders, so it should be a good time to focus more on our personal stories and rivalries and less on “wait, who is king now?”

    Continue reading →

DAS Chronicle Archive

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