Keith Briggs, a visiting research fellow in linguistics at the University of the West of England, has proposed a new site for the battle in which King Edmund of East Anglia was killed in 869. If confirmed, the new proposal would change our understanding of the early history of Suffolk and especially of the town and abbey of Bury St Edmunds.
The story of Edmund, king and martyr, has become a kind of foundation myth for the county of Suffolk, but contains at least one element of truth – in 869 there was a battle between the East Anglians and the Vikings; Edmund was captured and later killed. About 100 years later the story was written down – soon after, Edmund came to be considered a Christian martyr and the new abbey (founded about 1020) at Bury St Edmunds was dedicated to him. Edmund’s remains were believed to be housed in the abbey, miracles were attributed to him, and Bury thus became a major pilgrimage site and a rich and powerful abbey for the next 500 years.
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