British Battles 493–937

British Battles 493–937

Mount Badon to Brunanburh

By Andrew Breeze

Anthem Studies in British History

British Battles 493–937 revolutionizes our understanding of early British history by correctly locating for the first time conflicts from Mount Badon to Brunanburh.

PDF, 150 Pages


February 2020

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 150 Pages


February 2020

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

British Battles 493–937 is about war. Specifically, it offers solutions to the locations and other problems of battles in Britain between the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons and the age of the Vikings. It locates the victory of Mount Badon in 493 of the Britons over the West Saxons at Braydon, Wiltshire; the battles of the British hero Arthur (of the ‘King Arthur’ legend) in southern Scotland and the borders, with his death in 537 at ‘Camlan’ or Castlesteads, near Carlisle; ‘Degsastan’, the Northumbrian massacre of an allied Scots-Irish army in 603, at Dawyck on the Upper Tweed, Scotland, where a standing stone at Drumelzier is the Stan of the conflict’s ancient name; Maserfelth in 642, where King Oswald of Northumbria was killed and his head and arms nailed up as trophies, will be at Forden (near Welshpool), on the old Roman road into Wales; and Brunanburh of 937, where Athelstan crushed the forces of united Viking-Scots-Strathclyde invaders, at Lanchester in County Durham, above the Brune or River Browney.

The implications of the book are threefold. First, it will mean the rewriting of much early British and Anglo-Saxon history; knowing where battles took place means that we shall understand better the war-aims of those who won or lost them. The second is a benefit for battle archaeologists. They need not waste time seeking swords and spears at traditional locations for these battles, like Badbury in Wiltshire for 493 or Oswestry in Shropshire for 642 or Bromborough in Cheshire for 937 because they would be digging in the wrong place. The third is the indication of a method, as follows.

An analysis of early place-names in Old English or Middle Welsh or other languages lets us pin-point ancient battlefields. It allows us to show that the ‘Legionum Urbs’ of the Roman martyrs Julius and Aaron was surely not Caerleon in South Wales (as often said), but Legorum Urbs or Leicester, which is hence the scene of Britain's earliest Christian martyrdoms. Similarly, the birthplace of St. Patrick can be proved (following suggestions by others) as Bannaventa Tabernae or Banwell, Avon. St. Patrick will have been a Somerset man, brought up on a Roman villa near a low-lying coast open to the Irish pirates who enslaved him. British Battles 493–937 thus indicates techniques whereby future researchers may solve historical problems in Britain and beyond.


"This book offers a good overview of the extensive and sometimes conflicting scholarship on the thirteen conflicts, it presents Breeze’s own insights, based on previous articles and extensive research, and is thus a stimulating read irrespective of whether or not one agrees with Breeze’s conclusions. — Nicole Meier, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 258, no. 173 (2021)"

"A book that anyone with an interest in locating the lost battlefields of early medieval Britain will find enlightening and thought-provoking. It provides the reader a good measure of background information, while placing the author's own contribution in a broader context, as well as signposting additional resources and alternative theories. — Tim Clarkson,, accessed 3 June, 2020"

‘Here Andrew Breeze combines his expertise in toponymy with a lively engagement in previous scholarship to locate early British battles, some involving – or not involving – King Arthur, others less familiar. His results cannot fail to set the archaeologists off in search of material evidence.’ —Brian Murdoch, Professor Emeritus, University of Stirling, UK

‘Andrew Breeze is a veteran scholar of early medieval British history, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sources. He is also willing to make daring connections, to illuminate what were long thought of as the darkest of ages. Every page of this rewarding book offers fresh insights, and opens the way to new questions, new framings, of that story.’ —Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, USA

‘Dr. Andrew Breeze, among the foremost of today’s place-name scholars, has written a lucid and learned series of studies providing rich insight into British onomastics and military history.’ —J. R. Hall, Professor of English Emeritus, University of Mississippi, USA

‘Andrew Breeze is a polymath and a pioneer. In British Battles 493–937, he uses his immense learning in Latin, Celtic and Germanic to reach brilliant solutions to longstanding historical problems. His book shows how the combination of onomastics, topography and textual criticism can transform our understanding of early medieval history and literature.’ —Leonard Neidorf, Professor of English, Nanjing University, China

There is much worthwhile analysis here, leading to conclusions that various specialists—historians, archaeologists, geographers, should pay attention to. — Stephen Morillo, Wabash College, The Medieval Review (2021)

This collection focuses on thirteen battles from an onomastic perspective. At the outset, Breeze suggests that the identifications might be used in three main ways. First, to acquire a better historical understanding of the battles. Second, to seek archaeological traces of the battles. Third, to offer an onomastic methodology for use in other instances. ‘This book is about war, and specifically about early battlefields in Britain’. Rather, it is about the etymology of names, the links between names and places, and the identification of the places at which battles occurred. — Thomas Pickles, Northern History.

Author Information

Andrew Breeze, FSA, FRHistS, has taught since 1987 at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


Anthem Studies in British History

Table of Contents

1. 493: British Triumph at Mount Badon or Braydon, Wiltshire; 2. 537: Arthur's death at Camlan or Castlesteads, Cumbria; 3. 573: Legends of Merlin and Arfderydd or Arthuret, Cumbria; 4. C. 590: Picts at Gwen Ystrad or the River Winster, Cumbria; 5. 603: Carnage at Degsastan by Wester Dawyck, Borders; 6. 613: Chester and the Massacre of Welsh Monks; 7. 633: Hatfield Chase and British Victory at Doncaster; 8. 634: Hefenfeld and British Defeat in Northumberland; 9. 642: Maserfelth and King Oswald's Death at Forden, Powys; 10. 655: Treasure Lost on the Uinued or River Went, Yorkshire; 11. 844: Vikings, ‘Alluthèria’ and a Bridge at Bishop Auckland; 12. 893: Vikings Liquidated at Buttington, Powys; 13. 937: ‘Brunanburh’ and English Triumph at Lanchester, County Durham; Index.


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