I'm a big fan of the Last Kingdom book series by Bernard Cornwell, and now that I'm watching the series on Netflix I feel another trip needs to be planned. The series is set in the 9th century when England is still a series of separate Kingdoms being fought over by the Danes and Saxons. What cities, sites, museums, etc. can everyone suggest to put on a list for possible visits that focus on this period? York is the first that comes to mind, but off the top of my head, most english history sites seem to begin with the year 1066.
Winchester has lot of 9th century history. Remember King Alfred and his round table? And who can forget King Egbert? Nice small museum located not far from the Cathedral.
Malmesbury, reputed burial site of Athelstan, first king of all England is definitely worth a visit.
You could also research actual locations by either reading Michael Wood’s book ‘In Search of the Dark Ages’ or if watching DVDs is more your thing, trying to get a copy of the BBC series of the same name - it’s quite old now (the blond, handsome Wood, in tight jeans and flying jacket leaping from a helicopter and holding forth in Anglo Saxon put quite a strain on my marriage back in the day!) so you might also find the episodes on You Tube.
I think it's Arthur who is more famous for his "round table". Alfred was first king of the Anglo-Saxons and you can visit his birthplace in Wantage. Athelstan was the first true king of England, but he was 10th century, not 9th. There are lots of Anglo-Saxon sights:
10th century counts as well since the Saxons and Danes were still going at it.
Visit Bewcastle Cross – it’s stood in the same site for 1300 years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bewcastle_Cross You’ll be the only person there.
St Peter’s Church at Monkwearmouth dates from the 7th Century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Peter%27s_Church,_Monkwearmouth
Read up about the Venerable Bede https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bede and St Cuthbert https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuthbert.
The north east is the place to be. Even the accent has echoes of the Danes.
Nick, I am covered in shame! Of course, It was King Arthur. Sorry, OP.
Hi from Wisconsin,
Last week I bumped into this map, The Great Heathen Army Map. Just Google that and it might lead you to some interesting locations.
(the blond, handsome Wood, in tight jeans and flying jacket leaping
from a helicopter and holding forth in Anglo Saxon put quite a strain
on my marriage back in the day!)
I had to laugh. We're off to Scotland this summer so my wife can stalk, I mean search for Jamie Fraser of Outlander Fame. Who knows, maybe I'll be travelling home alone...
Finally a shout out for Aethelflaed daughter of Alfred, a women not be
So there are two of us who have heard of her! I saw a plaque about her in Warwick while visiting and I tried to tell everyone about it. Got a lot of blank stares.
@ emma, but those Viking "Northmen" spoke French, and that makes all the difference. Its not what you say, but how you say it.
Three, four if you count my wife who has loaned me her book on Aethelflaed to read!
If you’re up north near Durham, stop by Escomb Church, which dates back to around 675. It reuses stone from nearby Binchester Roman Fort (one stone in the interior wall cites a Roman legion). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escomb_Church
There are statues of Aethelflaed in many Midlands towns and cities from the rather small dainty one at the Leicester Guildhall to the large and fierce new one in Tamworth.
Louth (Lincolnshire) is a bit out of the way, and I don't know if the actual artefact is on display yet (it is supposed to be ...), but a few years ago I had the privilege of seeing this 10th-century Anglo-Saxon cross when the verger took me into the vestry and pulled out the fragments of the cross (hidden in a closet) to show me. He was so proud of his discovery!
This is the earliest Christian artefact yet found in Louth and it provides a tangible link between the present medieval church and documentary references to an eighth and ninth century Anglo-Saxon monastery, and a tenth century shrine of St. Herefrith in the town. The Louth monastery was important enough for one of its abbots, Æthelheard, to be made the Archbishop of Canterbury by Offa, the King of Mercia in 792. St. Herefrith was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Lindsey who died a martyr’s death when the monastery was attacked and destroyed by the Viking raiders. .... By the time of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest the Louth cross had probably already been standing for over 100 years.
Just an aside: The church (St James's) in Louth is also proud of its connection to Captain John Smith (not 10th century, I know!). On one of my visits to the church, I was surprised to see a map of the eastern USA on display, tracing Captain Smith's journey to the New World (he attended church at St James's as a boy). I'm embarrassed to say I had never wondered about his "back story".
Another here who knows who Aethelflaed is.
In some books, an extra "a" is added, and she is called "Aethelflaeda".
Since you say you are a fan of the Last Kingdom book series, there are a couple of books you may be interested in reading.
"Anglo-Saxon England", by Frank Stenton (Published by Oxford University Press).
It is a pretty thorough history.
Another excellent read is
"A World Lit Only By Fire", by the great author William Manchester.
This book covers the leaving of the Romans out of Britain, all the way to the end of the Medieval Period, to the beginning of the Renaissance. A very thorough history, including the Viking and Anglo-Saxon periods.
Sam but the Northmen/Norsemen didnt speak French, French is a modern language from Paris. Normandy didnt become part of France till 1205, their Norman patois is still spoken and is similar to our patois Guernesais.
St. Lawrence Church, Bradford on Avon (very close to Bath). Built in the 8th century with some alterations in late 10th/early 11th century.
Is Sutton-Hoo something you're looking for? https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo It is an 8th century royal Anglo-Saxon ship burial site. The site is near Ipswich.
Thanks 2002leonard, I've never heard of Sutton-Hoo. Lots of interesting replies to my post. Thanks to all for giving me a starting point.
We loved our visit to Sutton Hoo. We spent more fan half a day there. Really well done.
Oh my, I love the Sutton Hoo Hoard artifacts that are on display at the British Museum. So interesting!
Be sure to watch an English TV show called the "Detectorists" Treasure hunters in rural England. It was an award winner comedy: They always seem to just miss that Viking Ship burial, and they are always competing with other searchers. You do have to get permission to "hunt"; especially on private holdings. We watched a DVD we got from the library.