The crows fed well at Assandun.
Ripped flesh from bones. Eyes from sockets.
Tricked by Eadric, Edmund's men fell
and Eadnoth's hand and head were lost.
His precious ring costing him dear.
Four battles Ironside had won
before the turning of the tide.
At Assandun the Danish force
tore through the Saxon battle lines.
At Assandun the land was lost.
Cnut, shield warrior and King,
weilder of Danish sword and spear.
Blood wader and slaughter bringer.
Assandun no more, now Danes' Wood
will bear the name of this stained land.
Only time will cleanse their dark blood.
The Battle of Assandun was fought between
Danish and English armies on the 18th October 1016.
It ended in victory for the Danes, led by Cnut, who
triumphed over the English army led by King Edmund
Ironside. The battle was the conclusion to the Danish
conquest of England.
During the battle, Eadric Streona, the ealdorman of
Mercia, left the battle allowing the Scandinavians
to break through the English lines and win a decisive
victory. Eadric Streona had previously defected to
Cnut when he landed in England but after Cnut's defeat
at the Battle of Otford he came back to the English,
but this was a trick as he would betray them at Assandun.
During the course of the battle, Eadnoth the Younger,
Bishop of Dorchester, was killed by Cnut's men whilst
in the act of saying mass on behalf of Edmund Ironside's
men. According to Liber Eliensis, Eadnoth's hand was
first cut off for a ring, and then his body cut to pieces.
The battle is mentioned briefly in Knytlinga Saga which
quotes a verse of skaldic poetry by Ottarr Svarti, one
of Cnut's court poets:
At Assandun, you worked well
in the shield-war, warrior-king;
brown was the flesh of bodies
served to the blood-bird:
in the slaughter, you won,
sire, with your sword
enough of a name there,
north of the Danes' Woods.
Following his defeat, Edmund was forced to sign a treaty with
Cnut. By this treaty, all of England except Wessex would be
controlled by Cnut and when one of the kings should die the
other would take all of England, that king's son being the
heir to the throne. Edmund's died on the 30th November 1016.