Christians, before they began to suffer from want, inspired by Heaven, judging it much better to gain victory or death, attacked the pagans suddenly in the morning, and from the first cut them down in great numbers, slaying also their king, so that few escaped to their ships; and there they gained a very large booty, and amongst other things the standard called Raven; for they say that the three sisters of Hingwar and Hubba, daughters of Lodobroch, wove that flag and got it ready in one day. They say, moreover, that in every battle, wherever that flag went before them, if they were to gain the victory a live crow would appear flying on the middle of the flag; but if they were doom to be defeated it would hang down motionless, and this was often proved to be so. The same year, after Easter, king Alfred, with a few followers, made for himself a stronghold in a place called Athelney, and from thence sallied with his vassals and the nobles of Somersetshire, to make frequent assaults upon the pagans. Also, in the seventh week after Easter, he rode to the stone of Egbert(*), which is in the eastern part of the wood which is called Selwood(**), which means in Latin Silva Magna, the Great Wood, but in British Coit-mawr.
Here he was met by all the neighbouring folk of Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, and Hampshire, who had not, for fear of the pagans, fled beyond the sea; and when they saw the king alive after such great tribulation, they received him, as he deserved, with joy and acclamations, and encamped there for one night. When the following day dawned, the king struck his camp, and went to Okely(***), where he encamped for one night.
(*)Now called Brixton Deverill, in Wilts.
(**)Selwood Forest extended from Frome to Burham, and was probab1y much larger at one time.
(***)Or Iglea. Supposed to be Leigh, now Westbury, Wilts
The next morning he removed to Edington, and there fought bravely and perseveringly against all the army of the pagans, whom, with the divine help, he defeated with great slaughter, and pursued them flying to their fortification. Immediately he slew all the men, and carried off all the booty that he could find without the fortress, which he immediately laid siege to with all his army; and when he had been there fourteen days, the pagans, driven by famine, cold, fear, and last of all by despair, asked for peace, on the condition that they should give the king as many hostages as he pleased, but should receive none of him in return, in which form they had never before made a treaty with any one. The king, hearing that, took pity upon them, and received such hostages as he chose; after which the pagans swore, moreover, that they would immediately leave the kingdom; and their king, Gothrun, promised to embrace Christianity, and receive baptism at king Alfred's hands. All of which articles he and his men fulfilled as they had promised. For after seven weeks Gothrun, king of the pagans, with thirty men chosen from the army, came to Alfred at a place called Aller, near Athelney, and there King Alfred, receiving him as his son by adoption, raised him up from the holy laver of baptism on the eighth day, at a royal villa named Wedmore(****), where were the holy chrism was poured upon him(*****).
After his baptism he remained twelve nights with the king, who, with all his nobles, gave him many fine houses. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 879, which was the thirty first of king Alfred, the aforesaid army of pagans leaving Chippenham, as they had promised, went to Cirencester, which is called in British "Cair Cori", and is situate in the southern part of the Wiccii(******), and there they remained one year.
(****)Wedmore is four miles and three quarters from Axbridge, in Somersetshire.
(*****)In the Saxon Chronicle (A..D. 878) it is said, that Gothrun was baptized at Aller, and his chrism-loosing was at Wedmore. The chrismal was
a white linen cloth put on the head at the administration of baptism, which was taken off at the expiration of eight days.
(******)Inhabitants of Gloucester, Worcester, and part of Warwickshire.
In the same year, a large army of pagans sailed from foreign parts into the river Thames, and joined the army which was already in the country. They wintered at Fulham near the river Thames. In the same year an eclipse of the sun took place, between three o'clock and the evening, but nearer to three o'clock. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 880, which was the thirty- second of king Alfred, the above named army of pagans left Cirencester, and went among the East Angles, where they divided out the country and began to settle. The same year the army of pagans, which had wintered at Fulham, left the island of Britain, and sailed over the sea to the eastern part of France, where they remained a year at a place called Ghent. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 881, which was the thirty- third of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went higher up into France; and the French fought against them; and after the battle the pagans obtained horses and became an army of cavalry.