The warning to Harold and his return to London in 1066AD

Anglo Saxon History

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Map Position

This map shows the position of locations containing 'anderida, battleAD1066, norman landing AD1066cooden, vikingAD1066' centered on Rugby in .

Map Logic

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 could have taken to meet up with Harold on the way to the Battle of Hastings.
The thickness of the road implies the width of the Roman metalled surface.


 
Icon Key:
Norman Ships
 

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 London.

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 somewhere between their fleet and York.

If we now look at the maximum speeds that troops on foot and horseback can travel, we can work out the timetable of events after the 'Battle of Stamford Bridge'. The following chart shows the most likely maximum distances various troops can travel in one day.

Maximum travelling speed in Saxon times using Roman Roads
TypeDistance per day(miles) York to London(days)
Messengers50 miles4 days
Housecarls30 miles7 days
Fyrð14 miles15 days
Baggage Train9 miles23 days

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 average 30 miles a day on horseback each with two horses. 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 the north would have taken too long to get to London so the southern Fyrð who would battle at 'Hastings' would have been different troops.

This then produces the following timeline between the Battles if we assume Harold was still in York until the warning reached him.

Minimum Event Timeline between Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings
EventDateDaysElapsed
Battle of Stamford Bridge  25th September 106600
William anchored offshore  27th September 106602
William lands 28th September 106603
Messenger to Harold 28th September -> 2nd October58
Housecarls back to London  3rd October -> 9th October715
London to Battle 10th October -> 14th October 1066519
Battle of Hastings 14th October 1066520

From the above timeline it is most likely that Harold was already on the way back to London when he met the messenger because the above timeline shows the Fyrð only just arriving at 'Hastings' on the 14th October, but we know that there was a Saxon party before the battle, and that defences had been built. So a modified timeline shown below is more likely. We also know that he had to wait in London for some of the Fyrð to join him.

Timeline between Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings
EventDateDaysElapsed
Battle of Stamford Bridge  25th September 106600
William anchored offshore  27th September 106602
William lands 28th September 106603
Harold starts return to London  30th September04
Messenger to Harold 28th September -> 1st October46
This would mean that Harold met the messenger near Lincoln
Housecarls back to London  30th September -> 6th October711
wait in London for Fyrð 7th October 1066 -> 8th October113
To Battle 9th October -> 13th October 1066519
Battle of Hastings 14th October 1066520



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)

 

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Author: Simon M       Document Created: 2017-03-30
Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps