Wiltshire’s Great Anglo-Saxon History Fuels the Modern Vikings Obsession

By Swindon Link - 17 August 2022

  • Photo by Victor B. on Unsplash

    Photo by Victor B. on Unsplash

Being a nation that was invaded, settled, and oversaw rebellions over and over again throughout history, Great Britain is home to a great many historical sites of significance. Wiltshire’s place in the annals of British history comes predominantly during the Anglo-Saxon era, both for the rise of the peoples and in the efforts to forge a nation in the years to come.

  • Photo by Barnabas Davoti: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-the-saga-oseberg-8876097/

    Photo by Barnabas Davoti: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-the-saga-oseberg-8876097/

Of course, a huge feature in Anglo-Saxon history is the Vikings. Sailing over from Scandinavia in search of fertile lands, the Vikings ravaged their way across the island but met stern resistance in Wiltshire. Swindon was seen as a key settlement of the age – although, back then, it was referred to as ‘pig hill’ – but it’s the modern town’s surrounding towns and villages that would stage key battles.

Whether it’s because of the heavy historical ties to the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons in the county or that the theme is just one of the in-things, there are certainly ties to be made between Wiltshire’s history and the current trends in local pop culture preferences.

Wiltshire’s place in the making of England

One of the first great entries for Wiltshire into the history of England came long before even the man who would be called ‘Alfred the Great’ was born. The Battle of Ellendun, which took place south of Swindon, saw Ecgberht of Wessex defeat Beornwulf of Mercia, swiftly following the victory up by sending armies to the rest of Mercia’s rule and annexing each of them to forge a vast area of Wessex.

In 878, some 53 years after the Battle of Ellendun, Wiltshire became a defensive battleground for the Alfred-led Anglo-Saxon army. With the Vikings Guthrum and Ubba both striking Wessex, it was Guthrum who surprised Alfred at his Chippenham estate, routing his army and forcing the King of the West Saxons to flee. Alfred would gather his forces in Athelney and then march to victory at Edington – just south of Chippenham.

Just over a century later, following a long spell of peace, Vikings began their raids again. With hefty payments not being enough to stave off the assaults, King Æthelred had all of the Danes living within the kingdom executed. Once the massacre reached the ears of King Sweyn Forkbeard, he didn’t hesitate to initiate a full invasion, with Wiltshire being one of the main targets of the Vikings’ vengeance.

An essential and enticing part of English history

The legend of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings lives strong in Wiltshire, from museum exhibits to historic game re-enactments, with it being a big part of the country's history. However, the interest has been taken to a whole new level in recent years, predominantly due to the rise of popular entertainment products that immerse people in the theme.

While its hundreds of developers produce new games as often as monthly across a huge range of themes, the Norse and Viking theme continues to be utilised for its proven popularity at new online casinos like The Hippodrome Casino. The current game in the theme running riot is the progressive jackpot-powered Thunderstruck II Mega Moolah, which focuses on the God of Thunder, Thor, and his mythical powers.

In a similar vein, with Norse mythology being so popular now, the sequel to the immaculate PlayStation game God of War is causing others in the industry to run in fear. God of War: Ragnarök finally unveiled its 9 November release date, and it’s been reported that other developers have been pulling out for fear of clashing with the game.

For something a bit closer to home, though, The Last Kingdom has recently concluded its fifth and final season. Given how other big-name series have gone in recent years, it was a pleasant surprise to see that the finale was rather good, and teed up the upcoming movie, Seven Kings Must Die. The series chronicles Alfred’s dream of creating a united England, continuing past his death and to his son’s rule – all of which is troubled by Vikings.

With such rich Anglo-Saxon history and the theme is so popular right now, it’s a great time to explore Wiltshire and its Viking ties.

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