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Maserfield, battle of

Maserfield, battle of, 642. Penda of Mercia defeated and killed Oswald of Northumbria. Penda is said by Bede to have removed Oswald's head and hands and to have hung them on stakes, perhaps as an offering to a pagan god of war. Penda's actions helped facilitate the cult of Oswald and miracles were credited not just to his relics, but also to the place where he was killed. The site of the battle, which in British sources is called Cocboy, is uncertain. It has sometimes been identified as Oswestry (‘Oswald's tree’) in Shropshire, but somewhere closer to the Northumbrian–Mercian border, the location of many other 7th-cent. engagements between Mercia and Northumbria, is more likely.

Barbara Yorke

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