Anglo-Saxons and Vikings 878–86


Map Code: Ax02363

By 878, the Viking invaders of Britain were suffering mission fatigue. The original Great Heathen Army had split, with a contingent under Halfdan raiding north as far as Scotland. With Northumbria at their mercy, many settled and began to farm the conquered land. The remaining forces under Guthrun harried Wessex by both land and sea, forcing King Alfred to take refuge in the Somerset marshes. After repeatedly buying off the invaders, Alfred finally mustered an army able to confront the Danes in battle at Edington, near Chippenham, winning a decisive victory (878). The subsequent treaty of Wedmore, between Alfred and Guthrun, would define – albeit precariously – the territorial status quo for a generation, foreshadowing the establishment of Danelaw with boundaries agreed, terms of trade, and penalties for infractions (weregild). While Alfred consolidated in his kingdom as the nucleus of a future united England, Guthrun spent his remaining decade as a peaceful Christian ruler in East Anglia.

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