The agreeable thing about blogging is that one can carry out one’s little researches, write an article – and see it published minutes later. And (theoretically) published to the world, not just to the readers of an obscure learned journal. The downside of this is that the internet is swarming with such amateur efforts: not so much not ‘peer-reviewed’ (who are our peers?) as not scrutinised by experts before publication and therefore to be regarded with plenty of scepticism. How much does no more than justify wishful thinking?
As I was about to finish on this topic last night – in despair at seeing the possible alternatives multiplying alarmingly – I had further thoughts, so will pause here to recap:
No one knows – and not many find it interesting – where this so-called ‘Egbert’s Stone’ was situated. Asser and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mention it as the place where King Alfred in 878 rallied the disparate parts of his army, the people of Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire, before defeating the Viking leader Guthrum at Ethandune. Scholarly opinion has favoured Penselwood as the location, the village that stands at the tripoint where Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset meet.
As Alfred started out from Athelney, I was arguing a slightly more northern route which, to my surprise, turned out to have supporting evidence that I had not expected: the final leg corresponds to the Harrow Way, an ancient trackway; there is an apparent Saxon connection in the name ‘Kingsettle’; and it explains something I had not understood in an earlier blog: the location of Alfred’s Tower in a place which ‘tradition’ said was on Alfred’s route. But tradition seemed to be the only evidence.
Now, there are three further facts which expand my theory so, instead of stopping here, I shall press on into the foreign parts that are Wiltshire.
[To be continued]