Alfred the Great and the campaign of 878 – What can we know?

Wednesday 28th June 2023

St John’s Place, Lower Road, Bemerton, SP2 9NP


The campaigns of Alfred the Great (871-99) against the ‘Great Viking Army’ leading up to the Battle of Ethandun, at Edington (Wiltshire), are considered to be one of the decisive points in the history of England before the Norman Conquest. But there is much uncertainty about the history of the events of this period, including the manner in which the historical record was curated by the king. In this talk, which also considers the mythmaking surrounding Alfred, Professor Ryan Lavelle addresses the evidence of Anglo-Saxon military organisation and questions concerning the possible strategies that might have been employed in that fateful year, as well as the longer-term significance of the 878 campaign.

Entrance for members is included in your annual subscription. For non-members, entrance is £10 (cash, card or cheque) at the door.

Ryan Lavelle, BA (Hons) MA PhD FRHistS SFHEA, is a professor of Early Medieval History at Winchester University. Author of a range of publications on the lands and politics of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, he was historical adviser on the BBC TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, whilst his own book Alfred’s Wars (2010) was awarded the prestigious Verbruggen prize by the Society for Medieval Military History in 2012, and his most recent credits include contributing to and editing the important collection of essays Danes in Wessex (2016).