Frithswith and Wigstan with their pigs.
Frithswith and her son Wigstan are out feeding the pigs but something seems to have disturbed them. An almighty roar fills the air and then the unmistakable chink of mail armour, clattering swords and axes as the ground thunders with the rush of boots on earth...
Inga stands frozen. Hild the sow seems less perturbed.
A large, drunk and unruly band of Viking raiders charge down the two trails leading into the village from the east. Inga is momentarily frozen and clutches baby Aebbe with fear as the warriors charge past her and her huge sow 'Hild'.
Ealdorman Aescwulf, standing next to Brother Thomas and 'Gwen'.
Alerted to the possible attack, Brother Thomas had jumped upon his donkey 'Gwen' to the nearby burh at Arlesford to warn the local Ealdorman Aescwulf of the impending danger. Aescwulf gathers as many men as he can muster in a short space of time. His eight loyal Huscarl bodyguard are joined by another eight warriors and these men split into two groups.
Levy and Warriors join their Lord and his Huscarl.
The Warbands form!
Aescwulf sees his opposite number across the creek. It is none other than the fearsome Viking Warlord Jarl Ragnar, recently arrived in Essex from his homeland at Ulvik. There is a moments pause as both sets of warriors rattle their weapons and jeer insults at one another. With a rousing cry of "blóð ok mjöðr!" Ragnar raises his sword to the air and swipes it forwards.
Bondi and the Beserkers make for the wooden bridge.
The invaders seem more interested in what is ahead of them and ignore the terrified village folk and the plunder within the buildings. The warband looks to be formed of Ragnar's personal hirdmen, a band of tough and grizzled looking bondi and a rabble of bowmen. A fearsome looking group of four beserkers led by Rurik the Restless are not far behind. Both groups make for the two crossings of Alresford Creek!
The second group of raiders charge past Frithswith's abode.
Aescwulf orders a unit of Huscarl and warriors towards the ford. The levy from Wifahoe lines up at the river bank, drawing their bows. Siward begins to dig fresh graves for the invaders corpses. He pauses a moment as he spots the legendary Jarl Ragnar in the distance. "Perhaps one of these graves will be the next home for that heathen" he thinks...
Siward's view from Saint Cedds graveyard.
At the wooden bridge further along the creek to the north, a small band of warriors quickly rush to protect the way across. Though the defenders here are few, the Viking bondi seem impressed at this show of bravery and hold back for a moment as the clearly drunken beserkers work themselves up behind them.
The Viking bondi pause...
The remaining levy from Alresford form a line along the bank and notch up their arrows. The four warriors slowly make their way across the bridge, hurling abuse at the invaders all the way. Back at the ford the Huscarl make good progress with the band of warriors near behind. Wading through the shallow waters they are half way across when they are stunned to seen Jarl Ragnar charging directly at them!
Jarl Ragnar falls!
In his enthusiasm, Ragnar has left his hirdmen too far behind. As he plunges into combat with Aescwulf's Huscarl he is alone. The first combat is brief but bloody. By the end of it there are three Huscarl corpses floating down the creek. To his suprise, one last Huscarl, Dunstan, remains and watches as the Great Ragnar drops unconscious from his wounds!
Tired and bloodied, the brave Huscarl Dunstan faces the shocked bodyguard of Ragnar.
A mob of Viking bowmen trade arrows with the levy on the other side of the creek. A storm of Viking arrows carry across and two of the Wifahoe men lay dead. Inevitably the wounded Dunstan is soon forced back by the enraged Viking bodyguard, though it is clear they are visibly shaken.
Hirdmen Eyjolf, Otrygg, Hrafnvartr and Unnulf force the defenders back.
Despite his valiant efforts, Dunstan is forced back to the west side of the creek. Four of the ceorl attempt to assist him but the Vikings are too strong. Bowmen on both sides continue to put withering fire into each other midsts.
Dunstan and the warriors behind him cannot hold the angry Vikings!
Spotting the danger, Aescwulf calls on his Huscarl and turns towards the battle at the ford. Shouting their war-cries his bodyguard hoist their double handed axes and begin to charge toward the desperate fight...
Ealdorman Aescwulf and his bodyguard.
Meanwhile, further along at the bridge crossing, the face off between the two sets of warriors continues.
An overview of the battle.
The Viking bondi are held back on the southern edge of the bridge. A combination of intimidation and incessant arrow fire raining down on them causes the attack to falter for a moment. Two of the bondi slip away from the fight, whether this is through fear or drunkeness is not clear to this day.
A frustrated Rurik belows his dissatisfaction at the bondi blocking his way!
Rurik the Restless, the beserker leader, begins to scream at the slow moving bondi who are now effectively blocking the way onto the bridge, blocking the way to blood, glory and dead Angles!
The Alresford levy shake in fear as Rurik's angry shouts are heard across the creek.
Finally the bondi, urged on by Rurik, unaware their Jarl has fallen and fearful of his wrath, charge across the bridge, clattering sword and axe onto the hapless Anglo-Danish warriors.
The bondi charge the Anglo-Danish warriors defending the bridge.
Within moments the course of the battle has changed. Taken by suprise, one of the Anglo-Dane men lets his guard down for a second and is soon sent to the next life by a Viking sword!
Will the Anglo-Danish defenders hold back the raiders?
To be continued...