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Fortifications in Wessex C.800-1016: Defense of Alfred the Great

Overview

The defence of the 9th-century kingdom of Wessex under King Alfred against the 'Great Viking Army' is one of the major military achievements of Early Medieval history. While the guerrilla warfare in the Somerset marshes and the battle of Edington are characteristic of Alfred's military abilities, his definitive physical achievement was a series of some 30 well-structured fortifications (known as burhs) across the kingdom. Many of these fortifications survive to this day and some were even reinforced to stand up ...

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Fortifications in Wessex c. 800-1066

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Overview

The defence of the 9th-century kingdom of Wessex under King Alfred against the 'Great Viking Army' is one of the major military achievements of Early Medieval history. While the guerrilla warfare in the Somerset marshes and the battle of Edington are characteristic of Alfred's military abilities, his definitive physical achievement was a series of some 30 well-structured fortifications (known as burhs) across the kingdom. Many of these fortifications survive to this day and some were even reinforced to stand up to German tanks in the expected invasion of 1940. This title describes their beginnings in the turbulent early years of Alfred’s reign as well as their subsequent development and use.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781841766393
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/1/2003
  • Series: Fortress Series
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 815,682
  • Product dimensions: 7.25 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Ryan Lavelle has written on numerous aspects of Anglo-Saxon life and politics, including a study of the reign of Aethelred II 'the Unready'. He holds a PhD from the University of Southampton and currently lectures at King Alfred's College, Winchester.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 4
Chronology 7
Design and development 8
The early fortifications of Anglo-Saxon England
Early fortifications: Mercia
Early West Saxon defences
Alfred the Great
'Private' fortifications: Anglo-Saxon castles?
Fortifications in the landscape 26
The principles of defence
The sites 33
Town and garrison life 39
Religious life
Warrior elites: the housecarls
The king and the towns
Campaigns in Wessex and fortifications 47
Sieges in Early Medieval Wessex
Defending the walls
Aftermath 56
Visiting Alfred's Wessex 58
Further reading 62
Glossary 63
Index 64
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