Battle of Assandune

It was St Luke’s day 1016. In a quiet, picturesque area stretching from Ashingdon hill across the valley to Canewdon hill, it was to become the site of the bloodiest battle in the history of our country. Edmund Ironside (son of Ethelred the unready) was on Ashingdon Hill with his army, Canute; King of Denmark was on Canewdon Hill with his. As the sun began to rise both armies were in full view of each other across the valley. The English army was split into two sections, the first was led by Ironside himself, the other section was led by Ederic the traitor. At 9am Ironside, full of confidence after his many victories against Canute, gave the order to attack. Ironside dashed down Ashingdon hill at the ahead of his division believing Ederic to be following closely, but Ederic was lagging behind, the closer to the enemy they got the greater the distance became between the two divisions. By the time Ironside reached Hyde Wood Ederic was almost a thousand yards behind, still on Ashingdon hill. Without waiting for Ederic and the other division to catch up. Ironside engaged the enemy full on. Ederic, instead of speeding up and joining the battle halted his men and stood and watched as the Danes were slaughtering the single division of the English army. Ederic took his division and circled the battlefield to join the Danes in finishing off what remained of the English. The battle was horrific; Ironside and the remains of his army fought until sunset and then under the cover of darkness limped back up Ashingdon hill and on to the West Country to round up more men. The Danes were to exhausted to chase after them. The next day Canute and his army followed Ironside to Olney near Tewkesbury where he met with Ironside and they agreed to divide the country between them. At least the English still ruled half the country, but not for long. On the 30th November 1016 Edmund Ironside, diseased and exhausted died in Oxford, Canute, king of the Denmark and Norway, was then acknowledged King of England, wholly and completely. As tribute to those who lost their lives during the great battle of Assandune, Canute built the church on Ashingdon Hill.

Another Account

Edmund Ironside d. 1016, king of the English (1016), son of Æthelred the Unready. Contrary to the wishes of his father, he married (1015) the widow of Siferth, a Danish thane, and was accepted as ruler of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw. When Canute invaded England in 1015, Edmund led the fighting against him. However, the people apparently felt that he was a rebel against his father, for he found it hard to gain a following without his father’s aid. At Æthelred’s death (Apr., 1016) Edmund was proclaimed king in London, but most of the nobles gave their support to Canute. Edmund continued the struggle with great courage (which earned him the appellation Ironside) and considerable success until he was defeated in the disastrous battle of Assandun (Oct. 18, 1016). He and Canute agreed to partition the country, but Edmund died the following month.