STAMFORD BRIDGE, 1066 AD. After the battle of Fulford Gate in which the Saxon army lost more than 1,000 of its best men King Harold Godwineson was faced with a task of trying to gain a victory against the invading Vikings before the Normans invaded southern England.
In 1065 Tostig Godwineson the Earl of Northumbria was expelled and his brother Harold did nothing to help him as this would have started a civil war. Tostig also believed that he should have been crowned King instead of his brother Harold. Tostig tried to get support from King Svein of the Dames and then from King Harald Hardada of Norway. The Viking forces gathered at Solund Isles and were later reinforced on their way to Scotland. The fleet numbered 300 ships and 9,000 to 12,000 men. They first came ashore at Cleveland and plundered the land. Scarborough resisted Hardrada’s army and the city was burned to the ground and many of its people were massacred. Then the Viking army scattered a Saxon militia force at Holderness, sailed up the Humber landing at Riccall, and then marched to the city of York. On Wednesday 20th September 1066 the northern Saxon forces under the Earls Edwin, Morcar and Waltheof were badly beaten by the Vikings. Subsequently York surrendered and 500 hostages were demanded by Hardrada to be gathered by the 25th of the same month.
On the 25th Hardrada followed by Tostig and 8,000 warriors arrived at Stamford Bridge. The rest of his army 3,000 strong stayed with the ships. It was a hot day and many warriors left their armour on the ships, after all they were only to pick up the hostages arriving from York. As Harold’s army approached Stamford Bridge the Vikings initially thought that the approaching force would be rebels willing to join them. It was too late when the ‘Golden Warrior’ standard came into view. As most of Hardrada’s army was on the wrong side of the river, retreat would have been a very difficult affair. Hardrada decided to defend on the right hand side of the river while he sent for reinforcements. A unit was left to defend the bridge until his army could get organised. He decided to defend his position until the reinforcements arrived….
THE MENAI STRAITS, 1098 AD. The Menai Straits separate Anglesey from North Wales. The most probable location of the battle is the North Anglesey shore. The battle becomes more interesting when we look at it in relation to Stamford Bridge as it involved the Harold Godwineson’s son Harold, Harald Hardrada’s grandson Magnus III and the son of the regent of Normandy during the 1066 campaign Hugh De Montgomery. So 32 years after Stamford Bridge the Vikings once more posed a threat to England.
Following the conquest of England between 1066-71 William I gave his Norman barons ‘carte blanc’ to expand into Wales. This meant that any new lands conquered would become their own. During the following years the Normans built a castle between Welshpool and Shrewsbury. Similar castles were used as bases to conquer the southern and northern coastal Welsh lands. The Welsh resisted and even inflicted defeats upon the Anglo-Normans in the 1090s. A large expedition led by William Rufus failed to achieve anything and a new expedition was planned by Hugh of Shrewsbury and Hugh d’Avranches of Chester along the North Welsh coast.
During this period King Magnus III of Norway and his fleet of sixty ships were campaigning around the British Isles. Many of the Western Isles were conquered and by 1097 he established his forces on the Isle of Man which was used as a base for raids on Galloway. Then he decided to harry Anglesey with his fleet accompanied by Harolds’ Godwineson’s son Harold.
In 1098 the Anglo-Normans marched into Gwynedd along the coast and after facing a few problems they crossed to Anglesey which they ravaged.
Round this time the Norwegian fleet appeared off the island. It seems that Magnus III had chosen the spot where the Anglo-Normans were already encamped. The English army was scattered at the time and as the Vikings approached, bow-shots were exchanged between the two sides. As the Vikings poured out of the Dragonships it appears that Hugh of Shrewsbury led a charge into the sea. The reason may have been that he wanted to buy time, or that he simply wanted to encourage his army. He was nevertheless killed when an arrow hit him on the eye. From then on it seems that a hard battle followed with the English trying to organise their army and with the Norse arriving at different times trying to join the main body of their army….
Developer: Astros Productions
Publisher: Challenge Software
Original design: Astros Productions
Platforms: Sinclair Spectrum 48K