61 62 63 64 we do not know which route æthelstan

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61 62 63 64
We do not know which route Æthelstan used to attack York in 927, but in 934 on his campaign in the North he went via Nottingham to York before marching up to Chester-le-Street. In his invasion of Northumbria in winter 939, Anlaf Guthfrithson ‘²rst came to York’, apparently by sea from Dublin, wintered in York, then in 940 led his army south from York to Leicester and through the east Midlands to attack Northampton. When Edmund captured the Five Boroughs in 942 he advanced, presumably from Derby and Nottingham, to a line speci²cally de²ned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle by Dore and Whitwell, the northern border of the Mercians and the present shire boundary. Dore is a suburb of She´eld, Whitwell Gap is near Worksop. On this border there are several OE burh names and the region immediately to the south was the focus of substantial grants of estates after the 942 campaign to the important Mercian family of Wulfsy the Black. To judge by the location of these grants, and the further grants implied in the will of Wulfsy’s descendent Wulfric Spot, the Roman road from Nottingham and Derby to the Northumbrian border was the main military route at this time and it was only later that ‘king’s road’ ( via regalis ) from Nottingham through Newark, Clipstone and Hodsett to Tickhill and Doncaster became important, as shown by the royal itineraries of the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. In the campaigns of the later 940s the road from Doncaster to Castleford and York was again the key military route. It was probably used in 944 when the dux of the Mercians attacked York and expelled Ragnald Guthfrithson. In 947 Eadred received the Northumbrians’ submission at the royal residence at Tanshelf, near the road from Castleford to Doncaster. In the following year, when he advanced to York and Ripon, he was defeated on his return on the Great North Road where it crosses the Aire at Castleford (and where incidentally in 1069 the Northumbrians made their defence line against William the Conqueror). As the centre of Anglo-Scandinavian power, York was the patrimony of the dynasty of Ivar, and for that reason it was the chief focus of all these campaigns (of 927, 934, 939–40, 944, 947 and 948). As we have seen, sources suggest that the campaign of 937 took place in the same region. On this reading of the evidence, then, the Northumbrian witan must have supported the invaders in 937 as they did in the winter of 939–40 when ‘the Northumbrians were false to their oaths and chose Anlaf from Ireland as their king’. This is indeed suggested by two later sources, the Annals of Clonmacnoise which say that Guthfrithson gave battle ‘with the help of the Danes of that kingdom’, and the Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon which says that Anlaf ‘augmented his army with… Danes living in England’. These can hardly be other than from Northumbria or the Five Boroughs, people like Æthelstan’s dux Urm (of Leicester?) who according to a northern annal preserved by Roger of Wendover was

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