Tuesday 25 October 2022

Battle of Hingston Down 838 AD


The Battle of Ellendun marked the decline of Mercian hegemony over Wessex and taking advantage of the opportunity, King Egbert sought to expand his lands. In the decade following, Wessex borders moved closer to East Anglia and northward, resuming its conflict with Mercia.

In the southwest however, Egbert encountered a setback against Danish raiders at Carhampton in 836. Recovering later, Egbert would defeat the Vikings and their “West Welsh” allies, a term used to describe the British peoples of Cornwall, at Hingston Down.


The location of the battlefield remains unknown; however, Viking longships could easily find shelter along the river Tamar, in close proximity to the downs near Hingston. The area is also described as wooded and the rounded grass-covered hills offering hilly terrain known as downs. For game purposes, exchange the difficult hills required for gentle ones (maximum 3) and add two woods. A figure outlined in chalk, such as a long-legged horse or Hercules with a big stick, would add ambience to the board.


Wessex, use army list III/24b.

West Welsh, 1 x general (Sp), 7 x warriors (Sp), 1 x skirmishers (Ps) +

Viking allies, 1 x huscarls, 1 x raiders (3Bd) 1 x archers (Ps).  

Re-fighting the battle.

Both sides battle lines were evenly matched, yet Wessex, advancing forward, were inconvenienced by woods on the right, formed two columns. The Cornish troops encountered no such obstacle as they advanced cautiously forward creating a gap with their Viking allies.

The battle developed quickly on both flanks with the Vikings earning their pay, making quick work of the Saxons to their front. The Cornish left was less fortunate, as Saxons drove a deep wedge in their line. Shortly after, the centre of both armies made contact.

The Vikings having accomplished their task and remained at their position to see the Cornish army flee the field. A glorious Saxon victory (4 – 2) over the West Welsh and their Viking allies.


Battle ofHingston Down, Wiki

Wales andthe Britons, 350 – 1064, T.M. Charles-Edwards (online)

Tuesday 18 October 2022

The Battle of Ellendun 825 AD


During the early 9th century, Mercia still held a hegemony over several realms in southern England. Beornwulf deposed Ceolwulf I in 823 seizing control of Mercia and began strengthen control over the southern lands. Marshalling an army, he marched first against the West Saxons eventually meeting them at Ellendun, near present day Swindon. The battle that ensued ended in disaster for Beornwulf, the consequence of which saw a number of kingdoms switching their allegiance to the West Saxons.  


Both armies use the III/24 list with a minor difference. Mercia invades Wessex forcing Ecgberht to cut short his campaign in Dumnonia. To meet the Mercian army. Eadberht calls to arms the greater fyrd (use at least 1 x 7Hd).

Wessex forces carry green banners, Mercia blue. The banners denote the hird (4Bd) with the largest signifying the general's element.


The location of the battlefield remains contested, some sources placing it near Swindon, others, close to Wilton or Wroughton. Swindon began as a Roman settlement near the junction of two Roman roads. From the early 5th to the 8th century, this area has seen a number of battles leading one to believe this a disputed area between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex. 

For game purposes, the board would have the following terrain pieces; a filed, a gentle hill, a wood and scrub. No road.

Re-fighting the battle

An early autumn morning, both armies formed their battle lines to near identical length, behind the Wessex line, the greater fyrd could be seen positioned on a hill behind their right flank. The battle began slowly as both sides moved cautiously forward; the steady advance broken only with Wessex skirmishers moving further ahead to threaten the Mercian right.

Battle lines swayed to and fro with neither side gaining an advantage. This continued for three-quarters of an hour (3 turns). Advancing too far forward, Mercian hird were cut down by superior numbers exposing a gap in their line.

The gap, further widen separating the Mercian left flank from the centre spreading alarm among their ranks. Sensing a disaster, Beornwulf called for a general retreat. The chronicles would record this victory (4 - 0) as a turning point for Wessex.

Second battle

A 4-0 result is unusual for two identically formed armies. This called for a re-match with sides deploying over terrain moved a quarter turn.

The battle turns quickly in favour for Wessex, driving the Mercian right back to hopefully create a breach of their line.

A breach did develop, but not where Wessex expected. Mercia capitalised on their good fortune, but at some cost. A Mercian victory 4+hd - 2.

Friday 14 October 2022

Battle of Hereford 760 AD


During his early reign, King Offa of Mercia, was beset by constant incursions by a number of Welsh kingdoms, Brycheiniog, Gwent and Powys being the most aggressive. The Battle of Hereford, fought in 760, is noted briefly in the Annales Cambriae (Annals of Wales) as a major engagement involving all three kingdoms against the Mercians led by King Offa. Later sources describe the Welsh victory significant, as it “freed themselves from the influence of the Anglo-Saxons”. 


From the map coordinates given for the battle, Hereford is in close proximity to a ford over the river Wye. The settlement, suggested by one source, would become fortified as a result of the battle, therefore the hamlet of Hereford should be open. Terrain pieces to be placed, the River Wye, BUA (hamlet), difficult hill and wood. 


Welsh: III/19a are invading.  

Middle Anglo-Saxon III/24b 


Battle of Hereford


List of Anglo-Welsh Wars


History of Wales (Battles and other significant events in Post Roman Wales)


Castles Forts Battles


Re fighting the battle

Both battle-lines formed three groups, for the Welsh, Gwent and Powys formed on the flanks of main force from Brycheiniog and similarly, the core of the Mercian army led by King Offa were supported by the powerful lords within the realm.

As the armies advanced, the Welsh proceeded to overwhelm the Saxons on the left causing a near collapse of that wing. To their surprise, the attack on the Saxon centre was repelled.

Despite the chaos on their right, the Saxon centre recovered and were able to maul the Welsh to their front to reach a narrow victory, 3 – 3g

Second battle

Details of the actual battle, such as size and deployment are sketchy, a second battle was played and reversed the deployment areas for each army, leaving Hereford in possession of the Welsh. The Saxon approach to Hereford was not well timed as gaps appeared as they approached the Welsh position.

The Saxon centre, led by Offa, struck the Welsh centre sending their king back. Unfortunately, the Saxon support elements were less successful leaving an exposed Offa to be quickly surrounded.

King Offa survived the assault as Saxon reserves quickly moved to aid their king, leaving Offa to renew his fury against the Welsh king. This continued for a time, sending the Welsh king recoiling, while laughing and yelling “Fool, look behind you”. Cautiously turning to look behind, Offa saw the Saxon centre gone. A Welsh victory, 4 – 0.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Battle of Rhuddlan 797 AD

The battle

In 797 AD, King Coenwulf of Mercia seeks to re-assert his domination of Gwynedd. In his defense, King Caradog gathers his Welsh forces which include those of Powys and Dyfed. The battle proves to be indecisive as both forces meet again the following year in Snowdonia.


The Ordnance Survey map of 1871 sites the battle in a field to the North West of Rhuddlan. This location is described as marshland bordering the river Clwyd to the east and by steep hills to the west. Our battlefield will have two difficult hills on one side and two boggy grounds placed facing each deployment area.


Welsh: III/19a, an option, represent Powys and Dyfed as allies of two elements each.

Middle Anglo-Saxon: III/24b.


From EBKHistorical Chronology of the Early British Kingdoms.

The re-fight

Due to the limited amount of open ground, King Coenwulf reinforced his flanks with extra troops; these would fend off Welsh flanking attempts as he pushed his line forward. The Welsh line was noticeably broken by the boggy ground offering an opportunity for the Mercians to destroy one flank.

Both armies marched cautiously forward and sensing some confusion on the Mercian side, King Caradog quickened the pace of his left.

As the main battle lines clashed, King Caradog deployed Welsh skirmishers to harass the Mercian right while wheeling his own bodyguard to turn the Mercian line.

The battle quickly cascaded into a slaughter as King Coenwulf fell as did other thegns of Mercia sending a tremor of despair among their ranks. Further losses incurred by Mercia forced them to flee the field. Welsh losses were insignificant (3g-1). 



Each subsequent test, the Welsh proved tenacious winning the majority of their battles with the Mercian commander thrice succumbing to a Welsh axe. Other Dark Age battles will follow.