Outline of Wessex based on the Burghal Hideage 914AD

Anglo Saxon
History
Map Position

This map shows the position of locations showing 'Saxon named locations ' containing 'hides' centered on Salisbury in .

Map Logic

This map shows the position of the Forts of the Burghal Hideage which was written in 914AD.

The black lines show known Roman Roads, the Red ones ancient trackways(Ivan D Margary), with the purple ones showing implied Roman roads provided by place names.

The green outline shows the boundaries of Andredsweald as derived from the Open Domesday Book data.

The purple shaded area shows a theoretical boundary of Wessex based on the extent of the Hideage Forts.


 
Icon Key:
Saxon Fort
 

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
 
Eorpeburnan324 hides
Hastings500 hides
Lewes1300 hides
Burpham720 hides
Chichester1500 hides
Portchester500 hides
Southampton150 hides
Winchester2400 hides
Wilton1400 hides
Chisbury700 hides
Shaftesbury700 hides
Twynam (now called Christchurch, Dorset)470 hides
Wareham1600 hides
Bridport760 hides
Exeter734 hides
Halwell300 hides
Lydford140 hides
Pilton360 hides
Watchet513 hides
Axbridge400 hides
Lyng100 hides
Langport600 hides
Bath1000 hides
Malmesbury1200 hides
Cricklade1500 hides
Oxford1400 hides
Wallingford2400 hides
Buckingham1600 hides
Sashes1000 hides
Eashing600 hides
Southwark1800 hides
Worcester1200 hides
Warwick2400 hides



External References in no particular order :-
Original Manuscripts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Roman Britain.org
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)

 

Copyright saxonhistory.co.uk 2013 - 2017
Contact me
Author: Simon M       Document Created: 2017-03-31
Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps