This map shows the Roman roads across the country, that King Harold's Coastal warning system may have taken
to warn the Saxons of the landing of Duke William in Sussex 1066AD. It also shows the routes that the Fyrd would have
taken to meet up with Harold on the way to the Battle of Hastings.
The width of the black lines on the map imply the width of the Roman roads, not all data is available but it is a good indicator
of possible routes Harold may have taken to return from Stamford Bridge to Sussex.
Looking at the old Roman roads, to go from London to Stamford Bridge would entail Harold taking his housecarls from London
to Braughing on 'Ermine Street'(M2a) then from Braughing to Chesterton(near Peterborough M2b). Then skirting the Wash(which would have
extended to near Peterborough) then through Stamford, Grantham and Ancaster to Lincoln still on Ermine Street(M2c). Here he would have to come off Ermine
Street and had to march to Doncaster on the road skirting the Humber Estuary(M28a)
After Doncaster he would have followed the 'Roman Ridge' from Doncaster to Tadcaster (M28b)
and then to York still avoiding the
Humber Estuary on the (M28c). Finally he would need to go towards Heslington and finally to Stamford Bridge to fight the Battle.
Because of the location of the 'Battle of Stamford Bridge' the most logical explanation for the position of the
Viking fleet would have been at Driffield which would have been part of the Humber Estuary at the time, then they
could march down the old Roman Road from Driffield to Stamford Bridge and hence on to York. As Harold caught them near
Stamford Bridge, it would seem likely that they were camped between their fleet and York.
The return journey would have most likely taken the reverse route as other Roman roads would have not been as quick, this
journey is about 209 miles from London to Stamford Bridge and would take about 7 days if they could averaging 30 miles a day on
This would have been fine for the housecarls who were horse mounted, but none of the Fyrð would have been able to keep
up this pace, so Harold must have sent word ahead to get the Fyrð to join him near London. The Fyrð may have been able
to march 14 miles in a day but those from York would have taken too long to get to London so the southern Fyrð would have
been different troops.
|Maximum travelling speed in Saxon times using Roman Roads|
|Type||Distance per day(miles)|| York to London(days)|
|Messengers||50 miles||4 days|
|Housecarls||30 miles||7 days|
|Fyrð||14 miles||15 days|
|Baggage Train||9 miles||23 days|
So we can now see that the Fyrð had to be predominantly local troops from Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Essex.
Master Wace writes of the English Troops
'Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of Herfort, and of Essesse ; those of Suree and Sussesse, of
St. Edmund and Sufoc; of Norwis and Norfoc ; of Cantorbierre and Stanfort; Bedefort and Hundetone. The men of
Northanton also came ; and those of Eurowic and Bokinkeham, of Bed and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There
came also from the west all who heard the summons ; and very many were to be seen coming from Salebiere and Dorset,
from Bat and from Sumerset. Many came too from about Glocestre, and many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre,
Hontesire, and Brichesire ; and many more from other counties that we have not named, and cannot indeed recount.'
Battle of Stamford Bridge 25th Sept 1066
William is offshore 27th(2 days)
William lands 28th(3 days)
Messenger to Harold(5 days) 28th Sept -> 2nd October
Back to London(5 days) 3rd Oct -> 7th October
wait 1 day 8th October
To Battle (5 days) 13th October
Battle of Hastings 14th October 1066
5 days Hastings to York messenger
7 days Housecarls to London
2 days wait for Fyrd
5 days London to Hastings
19 days - about right
Because of the above argument it would seem likely that Harold would have come down the London to Lewes road, cut through the forest
of Andredsweald via the old ridgeway track from Crowborough to Netherfield, which would have made it more difficult for William to
track his progress.