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Ashdown, battle of

Ashdown, battle of, 871. In 870 a large Danish army established camp at Reading and began raiding the surrounding countryside. Æthelred, king of Wessex, and his brother Alfred gave battle at Ashdown on the Berkshire downs about 8 January 871: this was Alfred's home territory since he was born at Wantage. The struggle raged round a stunted thorn-bush and, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ‘fighting went on till nightfall’. The Danes were driven back—the first major check to their advance—but a follow-up against their camp failed. Æthelred died within weeks and, his sons being too young to lead in battle, Alfred became king.

J. A. Cannon

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