"Never greater slaughter" - the battle of Brunanburh and the birth of England
Late in AD 937, four armies met in a place called Brunanburh. On one side stood the shield-wall of the expanding kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. On the other side stood a remarkable alliance of rival kings - at least two from across the sea - who'd come together to destroy them once and for all. The stakes were no less than the survival of the dream that would become England. The armies were massive. The violence, when it began, was enough to shock a violent age. Brunanburh may not today have the fame of Hastings, Crécy or Agincourt, but those later battles, were fought for an England that would not exist were it not for the blood spilled this day. Generations later it was still called, quite simply, the ‘great battle'. But for centuries, its location has been lost.
In his book, Never Greater Slaughter: Brunanburh and the Birth of England (Osprey, 2021) Dr. Michael Livingston, tells the story of the battle and of an extraordinary effort, uniting enthusiasts, historians, archaeologists, linguists, and other researchers – amateurs and professionals, experienced and inexperienced alike – which may well have found the site of the long-lost battle of Brunanburh, over a thousand years after its bloodied fields witnessed history
Michael Livingston holds degrees in History, Medieval Studies, and English, and teaches the military and cultural history of the Middle Ages at The Citadel.