Danish raids (3) – arx Cynuit

For the sake of completeness, I include the arx Cynuit event here, chronologically, though I’ve already said quite a lot about it. So I shall say little here other than to recap: it happened in 878, the Danes were said on that occasion to have sailed from Dyfed in west Wales and to have landed in Devon. They were led by an unnamed brother of Ivar  and Halfdan (perhaps Ubba or Hubba), and surrounded a company of ministri regis,  besieging them in the unidentified stronghold of arx Cynuit (plausibly located at Countisbury Hill, near Lynton).

A Viking longship: judging by the number said to have been slaughtered, the 23 ships would have had a crew of perhaps 15 or 16 oarsmen per side

A Viking longship: judging by the number said to have been slaughtered, the 23 ships would have had a crew of perhaps 15 or 16 oarsmen per side

The Saxons realising they would not be able hold out for long without provisions, burst out suddenly and attacked their besiegers, slaughtering, it was said, 800 of them (1,200 by some accounts), including their leader.

One version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says the Saxons also captured the raven standard of the Danes, of whom few escaped.

Apart from that version, the Chronicle underplays the importance of the event, which took place earlier in the same year as King Alfred set out from Athelney to inflict a decisive defeat on Guthrum at Edington. And now I shall move on to later invasions.

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