Wirral could be site of historic Battle of Brunanburh that led to the ‘birth of England’

Archaeologists are confident that the peninsula was the site of the battle against an alliance of Viking and Celtic armies in 937 AD.

A re-enactment of a viking battle.A re-enactment of a viking battle.
A re-enactment of a viking battle.

A crucial battle which helped create England as we know it today may have taken place in Wirral.

The Battle of Brunanburh, fought in 937 by Æthelstan, King of England, against an alliance of Viking and Celtic armies, is one of the most important battles in the country’s history.

It is often claimed the battle led to the ‘birth of England’.

The Wirral Archaeology volunteer group have been researching the theory for a number of years and after examining medieval manuscripts and records are confident that the battle took place on the peninsular.

They have collected evidence and significant archaeological finds in areas of central Wirral, which it is thought could relate to the Battle of Brunanburh.

Wirral Council has commissioned a report to review the work to see if further investigations are warranted, and whether the site could be of sufficient historic interest to merit registration as an official battlefield.

Wirral on the fantasy map. Image: Chris BirseWirral on the fantasy map. Image: Chris Birse
Wirral on the fantasy map. Image: Chris Birse

Cllr Jerry Williams, Wirral Council’s heritage champion, said: “We have a whole number of findings from leading academics, vocational historians and TV historians etc, so everything’s now pointing towards the Wirral [as the site of the battle].

“Gaining national battlefield status would be fantastic from an educational point of view, and an historical point of view.”

Labour councillor Williams added: “We know tourism is a big earner for the Liverpool City Region’s economy in normal times, so this is going to be a fantastic thing. To some degree [the battle] is more important than 1066 [when the Battle of Hastings happened], because it formed England as a nation.”

Paul Sherman, one of the co-authors of the report, added: “The area where Wirral Archaeology has recovered its most significant finds provides a unique opportunity to research a site of potential regional historical significance. The group’s members have recovered finds spanning 2,000 years of Wirral’s rich and diverse history.

“The presence of a large amount of material related to pre-industrial metalwork production is particularly interesting as is the recovery of a small number of arrowheads and gaming pieces which could possibly indicate the presence of an early medieval military camp close to the edge of a battlefield.

“I believe these small but significant finds warrant a comprehensive programme of planned research on surrounding land in order to progress the project and to gather further evidence about the existence of a possible battlefield site.”