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Asser of Saint David’s Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.

 
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Asser of Saint David’s
Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.
page 7

 In the year of our Lord's incarnation 875, which was the 27th of king Alfred, the above-named army, leaving Repton, divided into two bodies, one of which went with Halfdene into Northumbria, and having wintered there near the Tyne, reduced all Northumberland to subjection; they also ravaged the Picts and the Strath - Clydensians.(*) The other division, with Gothrun, Oskytel, and Anwiund, three kings of the pagans, went to a place called Grantabridge(**), and there wintered.
In the same year, king Alfred fought a battle by sea against six ships of the pagans, and took one of them; the rest escaped by flight. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 876, being the twenty - eighth year of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army of the pagans, leaving Grantabridge by night, entered a castle called Wareham, where there is a monasterium of holy virgins between the two rivers Fraum(***) and Trent, in the district which is called in British "Durnguers", but in Saxon "Thornsaeta", placed in a most secure situation, except that it was exposed to danger on the western side from the nature of the ground.
With this army Alfred made a solemn treaty, to the effect that they should depart out of the kingdom, and for this they made no hesitation to give as many hostages as he named; also they swore an oath over the Christian relics(****), which with king Alfred were next in veneration after the Deity himself, that they would depart speedily from the kingdom.
But they again practised their usual treachery, and caring nothing for the hostages or their oaths, they broke the treaty, and sallying forth by night, slew all the horsemen that the king had round him, and turning off into Devon, to another place called in Saxon "Exauceaster",(******) but in British "Cair-wise", which means in Latin, the city of the Ex, situated on the eastern bank of the river Wise, they directed their course suddenly towards the south sea, which divides Britain and Gaul, and there passed the winter.
In the same year, Halfdene, king of those parts, divided out the whole country of Northumberland between himself and his men, and settled there with his army. In the same year, Rollo with his followers penetrated into Normandy. This same Rollo, duke of the Normans, whilst wintering in Old Britain, or England, at the head of his troops, enjoyed one night a vision revealing to him the future. See more of this Rollo(******) in the Annals.

(*)Stratclyde Britons.
(**)Cambridge.
(***)The Frome.
(****)They swore oaths to Alfred on the holy ring, says the Saxon Chronicle, p. 355. The most solemn manner of swearing among the Danee and other northern nations was by their arms. Olaus Magnus, lib. viii. c. 2.
(*****)Exeter
(******)It is necessary to inform the reader that many passages of this work are modern interpolations, made in the old MS. by a later hand. The "Annals" referred to in the text are supposed not to be a genuine work of Asser.


In the year 877, the pagans, on the approach of autumn, partly settled in Exeter, and partly marched for plunder into Mercia. The number of that disorderly crew increased every day, so that, if thirty thousand of them were slain in one battle, others took their places to double the number. Then King Alfred commanded boats and galleys, i.e. long ships, to be built throughout the Kingdom, in order to offer battle by sea to the enemy as they were coming. On board of these he placed seamen, and appointed them to watch the seas. Meanwhile he went himself to Exeter, where the pagans were, wintering, and having shut them up within the walls, laid siege to the town. He also gave orders to his sailors to prevent them from obtaining any supplies by sea; and his sailors were encountered by a fleet of a hundred and twenty ships full of armed soldiers, who were come to help their countrymen. As soon as the king's men knew that they were fitted with pagan soldiers, they leaped to their arms, and bravely attacked those barbaric tribes: but the pagans, who had now for almost a month been tossed and almost wrecked among the waves of the sea, fought vainly against them; their bands were discomfited in a moment, and all were sunk and drowned in the sea, at a place called Suanewic.(*******)
In the same year the army of pagans, leaving Wareham, partly on horseback and partly by water, arrived at Suanewic, where one hundred and twenty of their ships were lost;(********) and king Alfred pursued their land-army as far as Exeter; there he made a covenant with them, and took hostages that they would depart.

(*******)Swanwich, in Dorsetshire.
(********)This clause is a mere repetition of the preceding. See a former note in this page



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