Posted by: vikingsinspace | March 2, 2010

I.4.01.1.11. Visit the site of the Battle of Maldon

Date Accomplished:  February, 2005

An 18th/19th century statue of Earl Byrhtnoth at All Saints Church in Maldon

There is a great Anglo-Saxon poem relating a battle that took place near Maldon in the year 991 AD, where Earl Byrhtnoth and his men fought and dies against a superior number of Danish/Viking invaders.  After the death of Byrhtnoth, his men continue to fight on, vowing to follow their lord in death rather than retreat.  Not only is it a great story on its own, but it also contains enough descriptions of the landscape which have enabled historians to identify the area where the battle took place. 

In 2005, I took a trip out to Norwich to see some friends of mine, and went on a day trip to Maldon to see the site.  unfortunately, I was very ill for most of the trip, so I don’t have very fond memories of it, other than this trip to Maldon and another trip to Battle (which I’ll cover in another post).  A friend and I made our way out to Maldon via train and bus, then had to walk a mile or so from the town to get to the site (not fun to do when recovering from a cold…).  We eventually arrived, and it was fun to see a few of the features described in the poem.  The most notable feature is the causeway that connects Northey Island (where the Vikings were) and the shore line.  I was lucky to have shown up at a time when the tide was out so that I could see it, and from how muddy the surrounding land was, I imagine the tide had recently receded. 

The Site of the Battle of Maldon, with Northey Island in the background, connected to the mainland by a causeway

My friend and I didn’t stay too long since it was cold and I was sick, but we were there long enough for me to take a couple of photos and to do some quick sketches in my travel notebook.  The Battle of Maldon didn’t mean much in terms of history, but the poem that came from it provides an excellent insight into the Anglo-Saxon mindset of loyalty and conduct in war.  There’s a great website (here) that provides a translation of the poem and other information about it.

 

My Travel Journal for Maldon

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