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Brunanburh or Brunnanburh ?A re-examination of Kirkburn in the East Riding of Yorkshire

Michael Deakin

In 1888, Mr Thomas Holderness, an antiquary from Driffield asserted that the battleof Brunanburh had been fought at Kirkburn near Driffield, East Yorkshire.In his own words: “The army of Anlaf would probably land at Ferriby. From thence they proceeded tomeet their allies, coming from the North. If Athelstan’s army came by land they would also most likely cross the Humber at the same place. If Anlaf’s army proceeded directly northward and Athelstan followed in their wake, Kirkburn would lie on theirroute; and as Athelstan feigned a retreat, it is probable that they had advanced beyondthis point and he may have chosen this rough piece of ground, with the bourn probably between the two armies, as a desirable scene of action.” At that time, Mr Holderness offered no documentary evidence to support his claim,although local tradition maintained that a great battle had been fought at Battleburn, a hamlet some half a mile north of Kirkburn and that “human bones, probably the remains of some who perished in the conflict, are occasionally turned up in delvingoperations in the fields hard by.

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