‘The heathens now for the first time remained over winter in the Isle of Thanet. The same year came three hundred and fifty shits into the mouth of the Thames; the crew of which went upon land, and stormed Canterbury and London; putting to flight Bertulf, King of the Mercians, with his army; and then marched southwards over the Thames into Surrey’*
-This was the year 851 AD-
Although the events of 851 are overshadowed in popular culture by the infamous raid on Lindisfarne (793 AD), the wintering of the heathen army on the Isle of Thanet as well as the subsequent military forays are arguable of a far greater importance. This signified the beginning of a period which would change the political, social and military shape of these lands forever, ultimately leading to the creation of what we now know as England. Thus began the phase of Viking settlement in Britain.
In my next few posts I shall attempt to investigate the profound effect that these events had on the shaping of England as a nation, the changes to the Anglo-Saxon military system they caused, and the social changes these new conquerors heralded.
*The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 851 AD