HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Battle Of Ashingdon

Hob Uid: 419102
Location :
Essex
Rochford
Ashingdon
Grid Ref : TQ8659093590
Summary : Possible site of the Battle of Ashingdon which is thought to have been located in one of a few areas. One of these is in Ashingdon, Rochford in Essex. The battle was fought in 1016 as a result of Danish invasion of England. The Battle of Ashingdon is also known as the Battle of Assundun, the Battle of Assingdon, the Battle of Assandun and the Battle of Assendun. The 990s had seen many raids by the Danish on England and in 1016 they were led by Cnut (Canute). They sailed with a fleet of 160 ships and besieged London twice and raided across the country. The Vikings were forced out of London by King Edmund 'Ironside', the English King and went up the River Orwell and into Mercia. King Edmund, along with Earl Eadric, overtook Cnut at Ashingdon Hill in Essex; the location of the battlefield is disputed. Not much is known about the events of the battle itself but it is thought that Edmund was fighting on top of a hill with Cnut below him. Edmund seems to have been betrayed by Eadric who fled from the battlefield taking his men with him. Cnut became the victor of the battle and killed many English earls and Edmund escaped to Deerhurst in Gloucestershire. He was followed by Cnut and was allowed to retain Wessex due to a treaty that was drawn up. Cnut became king over the remainder. Edmund's death in November of the same year meant that Cnut became the king of the whole country.Parts of a spear, shield and penny of Canute have been found in a nearby churchyard.
More information : TQ 86599359. St. Andrew's Church: possible site of the
battle of Assandune in 1016 between Canute and Edmund
Ironside. Canute erected a minster on the site but there
is no evidence of Saxon work in the present church (1),
only some Roman bricks in the walls. (2) A silver penny
of Canute was found in the churchyard in 1928. (See also
TL 54 SE 3 the other reputed site of the battle.) (1-3)

Controversy has surrounded the location of the site of
the Battle of Assandun since well back into the 16th
Century, and was re-opened in 1925 by M Christy, who
proposed the site of Ashdon (near Hadstock - see TL 54
SE 3). A critical factor in the discussion is the
interpretation of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle account of
the battle in 1016:
"When the King [Edmund] learnt that the army had gone
inland, for the fifth time he collected all the English
nation; and pursued them and overtook them in Essex at
the hill which is called Ashingdon, and then stoutly
joined battle there. " (see Authority 3)

The name of the battle is given variously as Assingdon
in Essex, Assendun (William of Malmesbury), Assendune
(Roger of Hovedon) and Assandun (Florence of Worcester)
(4). The earliest writer to assert definitely that the
battle was fought at Ashingdon seems to have been Camden
in 1586. He produces no evidence whatever to support his
assertion. Similarly, Stow's assertion that the battle
was fought at `Assenden in Essex, neere to Rochford' was
quickly contested and many later writers rejected it
altogether, placing "Assandun" at Ashdon. Christy adds a
footnote that Bishop Gibson appears to be among these,
for he assigns the battle to "Ashdown". The context shows, nevertheless, that the place he really had in mind was
Ashingdon. Here, Christy inadvertantly points out problems
of interpretation of place name evidence, which for his
own case he asserts so definitely.(5)
The solution to the problem appears to be found more on
topographical evidence. The natural conditions that existed
at the Ashdon site before the 11th Century are attested by
a series of dykes that do not continue onto the clay in the Ashdown/Hadstock area, perhaps indicating that whenever
they were built, a forest existed and was sufficiently
impenetrable to make any other defence unnnecessary. Even
today it would be difficult to draw up a line of battle say
5000-10000 men on the high ground between Ashdon and Hadstock.
The Danes well understood the essential value of the close
proximity of the sea and the safe refuge afforded by the
fleet, and Canute's tactics are very plainly shown by the
manoeuvres that ended in the battle of Otford. It is therefore
in the highest degree unlikely that Canute would have placed
himself fifty hazardous miles from the sea at the end of
1016 since he had already been forced to rely on the aid of
his fleet to extricate himself from disaster on two occasions
that year.(6)
The final piece of evidence is the presence of battle
relics. There have been found in the churchyard at Ashingdon
parts of a shield, a spear, and also a silver penny of Canute.
There are no battlefield relics at Ashdon. Christy's argument
(taken up also in RCHM Essex 1) that St. Botolph's Church
at Hadstock (TL 54 SE 3) is the `mynster' erected by Canute
to commemorate his victory poses difficulties. The minster
was at Assingdon, but Hadstock is not Assingdopn nor even
Ashdon. If, as Christy asserts, Canute had his camp on top
of the hill at Ashdon, he would have strong reason for
building the minster here than in preference to anywhere
else. (4) (4-6)

Smurthwaite sites the battle somewhere between Ashingdon
hill and Canewdon, supposed site of Canute's Camp (see TQ
89 SE 2). (7)

The site of the Battle of Ashingdon is thought to have been located in one of a few possible areas. One of these is in Ashingdon, Rochford in Essex. The battle was fought in 1016 as a result of Danish invasion of England. The Battle of Ashingdon is also known as the Battle of Assundun, the Battle of Assingdon, the Battle of Assandun and the Battle of Assendun. The 990s had seen many raids by the Danish on England and in 1016 they were led by Cnut (Canute). They sailed with a fleet of 160 ships and besieged London twice and raided across the country. The Vikings were forced out of London by King Edmund ‘Ironside’, the English King and went up the River Orwell and into Mercia. King Edmund, along with Earl Eadric, overtook Cnut at Ashingdon Hill in Essex; the location of the battlefield is disputed.
Not much is known about the events of the battle itself but it is thought that Edmund was fighting on top of a hill with Cnut below him. Edmund seems to have been betrayed by Eadric who fled from the battlefield taking his men with him. Cnut became the victor of the battle and killed many English earls and Edmund escaped to Deerhurst in Gloucestershire. He was followed by Cnut and was allowed to retain Wessex due to a treaty that was drawn up. Cnut became king over the remainder. Edmund’s death in November of the same year meant that Cnut became the king of the whole country. (8)

The National Grid Reference for the proposed site of the battlefield is: TQ86599359 (9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : T Southend AS 2 1930-4 197-205 (J W Burrows)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : VCH Essex 3 1963 45
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : A/S Chronicle 1961 96
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Burne A H (1952) More Battlefields of England. 76,78,79.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Christy M (1925) in BAA Journal Vol XXXI 178.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Brocklebank C G,Corr. in BAA Journal Vol XXXII (1926) 123-124
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Smurthwaite D (1984) The O S Complete Guide to the Battlefields of England. 46-48, figs,plates.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : English Battlefields: 500 Battlefields that Shaped English History
Source details :
Page(s) : 35-37
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:1250, 2008
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Battle fought 1016
Monument End Date : 1016
Monument Start Date : 1016
Monument Type : Battlefield
Evidence :

Components and Objects:
Period : Early Medieval
Component Monument Type : Battlefield
Object Type : COIN, SPEAR, SHIELD
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 89 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 419103
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 374146
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 925633
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1553373
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1553379
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, NHPP BATTLEFIELDS PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31