Vikings attack Wareham!

041 Pre Battle 4

I got home yesterday after spending a week down in Somerset – not an area I know at all, having previously only driven through it on our way to Devon or Cornwall. We did visit sites in Somerset during the week but over the last weekend of our stay we drove 60 miles into Dorset to visit Corfe Castle.

Corfe Castle, Dorset, UK.

We’ve been to this castle before, but on this occasion we were there to watch a re-enactment of one of King Alfred’s battles against the Viking Danes staged in the castle grounds.

The castle is a National Trust property and the car park and ticket office are on the opposite side of the road (A351). It holds a striking position high on  a hill, as can be seen in these two photos. The first was taken through the windscreen of our car as we approached on the A351 and the second from Corfe Castle village at the opposite side 0f the hill.

We arrived at 10.30 am to find that both Saxon and Viking groups were  already delighting crowds by demonstrating a variety of battle skills. Then we spent some time looking around the Saxon camp and the remains of Corfe castle. We have Oliver Cromwell to thank for the destruction (or slighting as it is properly called) of yet another magnificent castle. I intend to do a post about Corfe Castle, so I’ll say no more about that here. Here are a few photos of the many tents of the Saxon camp. Some show crafts and skills of the period.

The break for lunch was interesting, to say the least, as many of the re-enactment groups headed down into the village along with the crowds of spectators. Needless to say, most of the cafes were full, and we had to queue to get served in the one we opted for. But what the heck . . . it was all good fun and everyone was in festive mood.

106 Camp 12

The main battle was staged in the afternoon and was based on many such battles between Alfred and the Danes during his reign as King of Wessex. This one – in 893 – was late in Alfred’s reign, as he died in 899 at the age of 50. His eldest daughter, the fiery Aethelflaed, who became known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’ also features in the battle.

On this occasion, Alfred and his army held the castle and the Danes were attacking. Here are some of the photos of the event, although it’s impossible to differentiate between the opposing sides. There were several groups fighting with Alfred’s Saxons, including the Welsh and Cornish and different groups from the kingdom of Mercia. All had united against the common enemy, the Danes. In addition, Saxon and Viking battle gear was pretty similar (and Vikings most definitely did not wear horned helmets!). All had round shields and wore helmets, usually with nose guards. Many wore body armour of chain mail.

To his credit,  Alfred’s army won the day!

All-in-all, it was a great day out and I can’t praise the re-enactment groups enough. They did a wonderful job of recreating not only the battle, but the whole feel of events at the time. The battle was not without its humour and the costumes were excellent. Bring on the next one!

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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28 Responses to Vikings attack Wareham!

  1. leggypeggy says:

    What a fun experience. Love the pics.

  2. Frances 🌺 says:

    Super post Millie!

  3. Good old Alfred!
    The local boy done good in the end!!

  4. draliman says:

    That looks like fun! I’d like to see one of these re-enactments one day.

    • milliethom says:

      I think you’d really enjoy events like these, Ali. There are always lots going on in different parts of the country over the summer, especially over Bank Holidays and such like. I imagine there will be some at National Trust (and English Heritage) venues in Cornwall, so you need to check your handbook. This year is ‘The Year of the Norman’ (950 years since Hastings) so there are several Norman events going on. All good stuff! 🙂

  5. I’m sure it was a great day, and even the weather was perfect! 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      It was a lovely, sunny day and wonderful for this event. The re-enactment groups taking part were very good and really enjoyed themselves, too. 🙂

  6. anroworld says:

    Great captures, Millie! I love English history and always fascinated to know more! It’s great! Thank you for sharing with us! Have a lovely day! Hope weather is good?

  7. Antonia says:

    I love all of your photos Millie. It looks like quite a production with the Saxon camp and the battle reenactment. I bet the battle was interesting to watch. I love that you captured some of the players during their lunch break…just awesome 😉 You visit the coolest places and I am so glad to tag along!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ann. We were told that this event is staged every year and is always very popular. The weather was fine and sunny, which always helps. I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂

  8. Wonderful.
    Visual history.
    What an amazing place to visit.

    • milliethom says:

      It was a lovely day out and all the children present loved it. They were given little lessons on battle skills during the lunch break – which was really funny to watch.

  9. Susan Langer says:

    Looked like you had a wonderful day. Great pictures. 🙂

  10. irinadim says:

    I’m so glad to be back to read your fascinating posts, Millie. You’ve taken great photos which illustrate well the men who fought those terrible battles described in your novels. And to my surprise I read that Alfred’s daughter took part in the battle.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you Irina. Yes, Aethelflaed was quite a warrior. She was married to someone from Mercia (I won’t say who because her story comes into my Book 3) and between them they took care of Mercia while Alfred dealt with Wessex. Anyway, that’s how she became known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’.

  11. inesephoto says:

    What a great event for photography! Thank you for sharing the bits of history!

  12. DG MARYOGA says:

    I was away from WP for a long time but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten my favourite blogging friends,dear Millie.I have left you a comment under “the stately and colossal standing stones”,another one in your About page,and on Twitter.Have a nice day dear friend * ~

    • milliethom says:

      Hello Doda. I knew you hadn’t been posting for a while, but I’ve also had several weeks when I haven’t posted either. It’s lovely to talk to you again. Sometimes, life and other pursuits just don’t allow time for blogging. I’ll certainly pop over and have a look at your blog in the next few days. I’ll also take a look at your comment on my About page. And thank you so much for following me on Twitter! I’m quite new to that, too. 🙂

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        I know,so many other things in our life and so many commitments that we put blogging on the back burner.Actually,we did some travelling in Europe and we had long Easter holidays which kept me away from WP.Twitter is not bad,I find it quick and practical even when we are on hols.Thank you my friend for everything.Have a wonderful and peaceful Thursday evening 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        You, too. We’r off to Cornwall in the morning for a week there. I’ll be taking my laptop, though. I don’t go anywhere without one nowadays – as well as a tablet and Kindle. How sad is that! 🙂

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        Me too,I usually take my tab and a smaller laptop with me.Indeed,it’s sad,one can never relax with all those gadgets around.Have a wonderful week in the beautiful Cornwall 🙂

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