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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Tuesday 15 December 2015

Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age

Precious little wargaming or related reading recently, as work has taken over all waking hours. Roll on Xmas!

One book I have finished is Tim Clarkson's 'Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age'. This has been on the reading shelf for some time and I picked it up knowing very little of the kingdom that that covered the area where I live today. I suspect my solitary knowledge was the partial chapter in the WAB Age of Arthur book and the stones at Govan Old Parish Church in Glasgow.

Strathclyde is the modern name for Strat Clud, indicating a kingdom based on the strath or lower valley of the River Clyde. They were also known as Cumbrians and their kingdom stretched from Glasgow down the Solway Firth and then on into modern day Cumbria.They were ethnically Britons or North Welsh, but as becomes clear in the book, we know very little about them. The limited sources almost all come from mentions in the annals of other nations.

The book covers the period from the middle of the 8th Century to the beginning of the 12th. From the capture of their original capital on Dumbarton Rock by the Vikings, until they were overrun by the Scots and the Scottish parts of Strathclyde became part of Scotland.

It covers conflicts with the Vikings, the Anglo Saxons and less frequently the Kingdom of Alba. They were probably present at the great battle of Brunanburgh in 937 when the Saxons defeated the Norse and their Scots and Strathclyde allies - even if no one is quite sure where the battle site is.

The other great battle was Carham in 1016 or 1018, between the English and the Scots. The English or more properly the Northumbrians, were probably commanded by Earl Uhtred of Bamburgh. Yes, that's Bebbenberg. For those watching 'The Last Kingdom' or reading the Bernard Cornwell books, a Uhtred did actually exist. He was obviously a renowned warrior and leader, but perhaps not quite as well travelled as Cornwell's character!

This book fills a gap in our understanding of a Kingdom that was an important part of Dark Ages Britain. I will look that bit more carefully at the stones on my next visit to Govan.

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