Search Begins for Battlefield Lost for Centuries

Battle of Brunanburh helped define English, Scottish identities
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2014 5:40 AM CST
Search Begins for Battlefield Lost for Centuries
Historians don't know where a defining British battle actually occurred.   (Shutterstock)

Scotland is poised to vote on independence this year—and before it does, researchers are hoping they'll be able to track down the site of a battle at the root of the English-Scottish divide. There are more than 40 sites across Britain where experts have suggested the vicious Battle of Brunanburh may have occurred in 937 AD. Medievalist Dr. Matthew Bennett will lead an investigation ahead of a symposium at the Tower of London later this year, the Telegraph reports.

The Battle of Brunanburh saw the leading Saxon tribes unite for the first time, helping define Englishness against invading Scots and their Norwegian Viking allies. The Scots lost the battle but were able to ensure independence for their land, then known as Alba. The victors, meanwhile, were led by King Athelstan, later considered the first king of England. "This is the battle which shaped the UK," says the chair of Britain's Battlefields Trust. "We realize how difficult to pinpoint it is, but by evaluating all the possible claims, I think we can reach some sort of understanding." (Athelstan happens to be the grandson of Alfred the Great, who himself made news this week.)

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