The Burgal Hidage is a collection of a number of medieval texts that describe the location of defensive forts
around the state of Wessex during the time of Alfred the Great. The document was named the Burghal Hidage by
F. W. Maitland in 1897 after a great deal of research into the subject.
The documents list the forts anti clockwise around Wessex
starting at the unproven location of Eorpeburnan on the Kent,Sussex or Surrey borders ending at Southwark on the Thames .
The Anglo Saxon word Burgh or more correctly Burh describes a defensive position or fort usually on a hill with a
defensive ditch and bank topped with wooden walls and an internal regular layout to help the defenders.
These Burhs were mostly built during the reign of Alfred the Great to defend Wessex against the Viking invaders.
Each Burh has a number of hides associated with it, which describes the size of the Burh
and its defensive population.
Each hide of land supplied 1 defender to the fort and 4 defenders were needed to
defend 1 pole (1 pole is 16.5ft) of wall. Therefore each hide will provide protection
for approx 4 ft of wall.
For the maintenance and defence of an acre's area of wall 16 hides are required. If every hide is
represented by 1 man, then every pole of wall can be manned by 4 men. Then for the maintenance of 20 poles
of wall 80 hides are required, therefore an approximate size of the fort can be estimated. From the data
below the Hastings Burh of 500 hides would have a wall of 125 poles so about 2000 ft of wall enclosing a 500ft
square of land which would have been defended by 500 men.
At this moment in time the Burh of Eorpburnan(the fort on the brown stream) has not been found, but due to
the Forts along the Sussex Coast and the location of the forest of Andredsweald it would seem likely that
this fort was located to the north of the Forest, possibly near to current day Orpington where we have plotted
this on the map above.
This assumption is based on the County Boundaries of Kent(an independent state)
at the time, the Forest of Andredsweald together with the other Hideage Fort positions.
|The Burhs listed in the Burghal Hidage were as follows|
|Twynam (now called Christchurch, Dorset)||470 hides|