Brother Thomas stands with 'Gwen' outside the front of Saint Cedds. He calls across to Brunhild to flee with her boy Aldin and the dogs.
Brother Thomas watches from Saint Cedds.
Ealdorman Aescwulf charges across the field to support his men at the ford. The sudden rush of the angry hirdmen of Jarl Ragnar has caught them unprepared and they are in danger of being forced back.
Dunstan and the supporting Ceorl retreat from the ford.
The force of the Viking charge is too much - Dunstan screams at the men behind him to retreat and allow Aescwulf to step forward with his huscarls. The Viking hirdmen pause a moment at the edge of the ford. They realise that the Anglo-Dane leader is fast approaching them with his bodyguard in tow and do not want to be surrounded if they step from the riverbank.
Ealdorman Aescwulf leads the fightback at the ford.
As the hirdmen decide to stand fast and await the inevitable clash with Aescwulf, the levy on both sides continue to rain arrows down upon each other. Two more of the Viking thrall fall to the ground. Ealdorman Aescwulf charges into the awaiting hirdmen and an epic battle ensues ending with hirdman Eyjolf going to meet his comrades in the 'corpse-hall' and two of Aescwulf's men slaughtered. The Vikings hold firm and the Ealdorman disengages to prevent more bloodshed.
Has the battle reached a turning point?
Things are also looking bleak for the Angles on the north bridge - despite a courageous fight the Anglo-Danes cannot hold the might of the attacking Norsemen and are forced to retreat to the western edge of the bridge.
Anglo-Dane warriors put up a good fight but are forced off the bridge.
The Viking bondi are now fired up! Encouraged by the yelling of Rurik the Restless not far behind them, the Viking warriors make a second charge into the battered ceorls and the bridge soon runs red with the blood of Angles.
Fatigue takes its toll...
The battle weary men on both sides begin to feel the effect of the drawn out combat over the crossings - two more of the brave defenders are put to Viking sword and axe.
...and the bridge cannot be held!
The lone ceorl is desperate to stand his ground but cannot hold it alone. There is little the Alresford levy can do as they watch the Viking raiders make their way to the western bank of the river.
Ealdorman Aescwulf challenges the Viking hirdmen.
Back at the ford to the south another titanic struggle is about to unfurl. Aescwulf jumps back into battle with his Danish axe wielding bodyguard and tries to alter the course of the battle back in his favour.
A last desperate fight!
An Anglo-Danish Ealdorman challenging the three hirdmen to combat is more than the Vikings can resist - axes are raised on both sides and battle ensues! It is swift and bloody, no quarter is given by either side. Aescwulf proves his prowess in battle and Otrygg and Unnulf are soon making their way to Valhalla. The lone, battered Hrafnvartr is forced to concede ground and carefully backs off, wading through the shallow waters of the ford.
The last hirdman, Hrafnvartr, is forced back across the ford.
The desperate fighting has begun to weigh heavily all across the battlefield. Ealdorman Aescwulf wants to move on after the raiders but his men are weary. At the bridge crossing, two more of the bondi fall by the wayside, exhausted from their last exertions. The last three shattered bondi cross the threshold of the bridge onto the western side of the river. Even so, the last remaining ceorl is in no fit state to face them and oncoming beserkers - now apoplectic as their weapons are yet to taste blood!
The Vikings finally break through the spirited Anglo-Danish defence at the bridge.
The will to keep fighting begins to wane on both sides. Though the handful of bondi have made it across the bridge and are followed up by Rurik and his men, they soon realise the battle is approaching a stalemate - Ealdorman Aescwulf has repelled the attack across the ford further downstream. Hrafnvartr is in no condition to face a warlord and two Dane-axe hefting huscarl. The thrall bowmen on the east side of the ford are looking likely to retreat themselves if he does. The Viking raiders have come close to winning the day but it is not to be...
************************************As dusk begins to fall across the bloodstained battlefield and the river clogged with corpses of the slain, Rurik orders for the unconcious Jarl Ragnar to be gathered up and returned to his longship on the River Colne. There will be no feasting tonight.
Ealdorman Aescwulf asks Brother Thomas to lead the surviving Angles in a prayer for the fallen. The Vikings had come close to over-running the small village and they had plenty to be thankful for despite the losses.