Friday, March 11, 2011

Kings and Stony Stratford - 1 Edward the Elder

Stony Stratford's location on one of England's main thoroughfares meant that it had more that one encounter with kings of England so I'm going to run a little series on Stony Stratford's royal connections.

A Stony Stratford website claims that Edward the Elder, King Alfred's son fought a battle against the Danes here. It is possible. The River Ouse marked the border of the Danelaw for many years and Stony Stratford did lie on a road from Buckingham and Bedford - both important forts. However, I have not been able to find the source of this story.

Edward the Elder, as he is known, was born about 871 or 2 the second son of Alfred, King of Wessex. He became king in 899 on the death of his father. Under his rule the power and influence of the Wessex kings grew  and he was able to absorb the kingdom of Mercia in 918. He did win several battles against the Danes and was successful in pushing them further north.

In 917 he began a general offensive against the Danes. He occupied Towcester in April that year and was able to repulse a Danish attack and later beat them off at Bedford.

Stony Stratford did not exist as an entity at this time so there will be no references to it. We do find that Edward came to Passenham in the Autumn of that year and set up his headquarters there. Passenham has been very much off the beaten track for centuries but 1100 years ago it would have been a strategic post, close to the river and to the highway. Towcester was reinforced with a stone wall at this time and the Saxon army moved up the Ouse valley to Huntingdon where they were able to occupy the Danish fortress there. In all of this campaign there is no mention of any fighting in the Stony Stratford area.

The Stony Stratford website http://www.stonystratford.co.uk/history.html  offers the information that Edward the Elder fought a battle against the Danes at Stony Stratford. I have not been able tofind the source of this information. There were certainly battles at Towcester.

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