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Battle of Maldon 991

List Entry Summary

This battlefield is registered within the Register of Historic Battlefields by English Heritage for its special historic interest.

Name: Battle of Maldon 991

List entry Number: 1000019



The battlefield may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Maldon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Maldon

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not Applicable to this List Entry

Date first registered: 06-Jun-1995

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: Battlefields

UID: 20

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Battlefield

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.



Of all the Viking attacks in Western Europe, those against Britain were the most savage and the most unremitting. The major Viking expedition which reached England in AD 991 pillaged Folkestone, Sandwich and Ipswich before it was confronted at Maldon by a force of East Saxons led by Ealdorman Brihtnoth.

The Vikings had established themselves on Northey Island, linked to the Essex mainland by a causeway submerged except at low tide. The crossing was blocked by the East Saxons. Brihtnoth, needing to defeat the Vikings or risk them taking to their ships and continuing to raid the coast, agreed to let them across to engage in battle. In a bloody encounter, with heavy casualties on both sides, Brihtnoth was killed and the Vikings were victorious.

The battle began the process which led to Anglo-Saxon England becoming incorporated for a quarter of a century into a Scandinavian empire. In its aftermath, the English sought to buy peace with a payment of œ10,000. The main source of the battle is a contemporary poem, The Battle of Maldon, one of the finest battle poems in English literary history.

In 991 the landscape was very different from that of today. The shoreline was firm and the land dry. The channel between the mainland and Northey Island was only half its present width. Sea-level rise over the last 1,000 years led first to flooding then to the reclaiming of the land by means of a sea wall by 1822. Mud has accumulated on the seaward side, so that the creeks now present give a misleading impression of the nature of the battlefield in 991.

AMENITY FEATURES Public access along the dyke path allows easy appreciation of the topography of the battlefield and subsequent land changes. The line of the causeway is obvious even at high tide. The existing Maritime Trail leads visitors around much of the battlefield.

OTHER DESIGNATIONS All of the battlefield area is part of the Coastal Protection Belt. Northey Island is a Special Landscape Area and, together with the nearby salt marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Part of the battlefield is designated an amenity area.

KEY SOURCES Whitelock, D, 1979, English Historical Documents c 500-1042 Scragg, D, 1991, The Battle of Maldon AD 991

Selected Sources

Historic England Battlefield Report, accessed 11-JUN-2015 from

National Grid Reference: TL 86758 05586


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End of official listing