AUTHOR TRACKS DOWN VIKINGS BATTLE SITE
By Tom Palmer
18 September 2008
Press Association National Newswire
The best-selling children's author behind the Horrible Science series claimed today that he has discovered the lost site of a famous battle between England and the Vikings. Nick Arnold said he used accounts given at the time to find the site of the ancient Battle of Cynuit.
The conflict in 878 marked the last stand for the English forces as King Alfred the Great went into hiding and Viking armies overran the country. According to legend, the last of the Saxon soldiers were based in a fortress called Cynuit and it was there that they defeated more than 1,000 Vikings, driving them from the country forever.
The exact location of the battle has never been proved, with historians speculating about numerous locations in Somerset and Devon. Now Mr Arnold, who has sold more than five million books, said accounts by Bishop Asser, a friend of Alfred The Great, have led him to Castle Hill, near Beaford in Devon.
The author, from Appledore, Devon, said: "What we've got is a fort that exactly matches the description given by Bishop Asser in a location that precisely fits the account of the battle. Nearby is the settlement of Kingscott, with a name that can be linked to Cynuit. The most amazing moment was when I realised that the perimeter of the fort had been altered to precisely match Saxon measurements."
Mr Arnold is convinced his site is correct because it matches contemporary accounts and the borders and walls can also still be traced. He said: "According to Bishop Asser, an army of Vikings landed in Devon. The Vikings trapped the last remaining Saxon army in a fortress named Cynuit. All seemed lost but in a moment of divine inspiration the Saxons charged from the fortress and wiped out the Viking army. If the Vikings had won, King Alfred would have been dead in weeks. There would have been no fight-back and England would have become a Danish state. There would have been no English language, no British Empire and no United States."
He has discussed his work with two historians and an archaeologist and plans to send a report to some of the professional historians who specialise in the period. Mr Arnold said his publishers are considering working his findings into a new children's book.