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Brunanburh, battle of

Brunanburh, battle of, 937. Brunanburh was the crowning military achievement of Athelstan's reign, which saw Wessex advances into Devon, south Wales, and the north. In 937 a formidable coalition attempted to hold him at bay. Constantine II of Scotland was joined by Owain of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithsson from Dublin (whose father had been driven out of Northumbria by Athelstan). The site of the battle remains uncertain, though if the Dublin fleet did use the Humber, Brough or Aldborough are possibilities. In savage fighting, Athelstan and his brother Edmund prevailed: five young kings, including a son of Constantine, are said to have been killed. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle thought the victory the greatest ever won by the Saxons and broke into sombre verse:Likewise the English king and the prince,
Brothers triumphant in war, together
Returned to their home, the land of Wessex.
 To enjoy the carnage, they left behind
The horn-beaked raven with dusky plumage,
And the hungry hawk of battle, the dun-coated
Eagle, who with white-tipped tail shared
The feast with the wolf, grey beast of the forest.

J. A. Cannon

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Brunanburh, battle of

battle of Brunanburh (brōō´nənbûrg), AD 937, a victory won by Athelstan, king of the English, over a coalition of Irish, Scots, and Britons (or Welsh) of Strathclyde. The site of the battle is not known. The battle is celebrated in a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

See translation by D. Whitelock et al. (1962).

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