Hingston Down?

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Post by CJenkin » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:32 pm

What real historical evidence is there that the battle of Hingston Down in 838 between a combined Cornish and Danish force actually took place on the fringes of Kit Hill? Or is this merely a later attribution that seeks to argue the case for Wessex conquest of Cornwall in the 9th century?

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Post by CJenkin » Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:54 pm

No answers to this from anyone?

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Post by Srule » Thu Dec 15, 2005 7:21 pm

Posibly CJ's angle is that the battle would be fought at the border ie Tamar valley,
maybe a good place to start would Cornwall Council's archaeology dept, i beleive CJ will know Dick Cole or possibly James Whetter at the Roseland Institute.
When you review the literature certainly this event
happened but little physical evidence seems apparent.

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Post by CJenkin » Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:34 pm

The point that I want to make is that things are not always what they seem. We often take supposition as fact without actually critically examining the evidence. Good historians will look at the primary evidence to see the reality of the supposition. Who actually identified Hingston Down in Cornwall with this battle site? Do they have any bias? When did this area become named Hingston Down? Is it in the historical time frame that the battle took place and was reported in the ASC. eg. tenth/9th century. Or was this down named later e.g. the Middle ages.

One of the main proponents of this site is WG Hoskins who argues for an early conquest of Cornwall. His battlefield attributions are now being regularly questioned.
Could this one be incorrect? There is an alternative site Hingston Down near Moretonhampstead. I would be interested in people's views on this.

Personally I feel the present attribution is all wrong. Egbert seemed to be more involved in protecting the borders of Wessex and Devon was clearly disputed frontier territory at the time.

If a place is going to be named using saxon then it clearly needs to be in the sphere of influence of Wessex at the time. This area of Cornwall lacks that and was very much off the fringes of Wessex control.

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Post by CJenkin » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:05 pm

From the ASC

A.D. 835. This year came a great naval armament into West-Wales,
where they were joined by the people, who commenced war against
Egbert, the West-Saxon king. When he heard this, he proceeded
with his army against them and fought with them at Hengeston,
where he put to flight both the Welsh and the Danes.

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Post by Lyskerrys » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:33 pm

History written by the victors is usually biased - a lot of Caesar's descriptions of the Celts have been exaggerated to justify his attacking them. (Those druids have WMDs! Let's invade!)

This ASC account may or may not be accurate. Who can say without a corroborating contemporary source?

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Post by Hen » Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:46 pm

Agreed totally, lyskerrys.

To the victor, the spoils ... and the opportunity to write yourself up in a glowing light*.

(* Oh. And possibly make yourself out to be taller and more handsome than you were in real life.)

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Post by Morgarrow » Tue Dec 20, 2005 1:37 am

Yes like this quote from http://www-civ.eng.cam.ac.uk/cjb/hingston/hingname.htm

The Battle of Hingston Down was fought by the West Saxon King Egbert in 838, much too late for Hengist to have had anything to do with it. The battle was fought against Danish and Cornish Briton invaders and resulted in an overwhelming victory for Egbert.

I like the "...battle was fought against Danish and Cornish Briton invaders " bit. :-) I would be interested to know if these were "Irish" Danes. I know the term Danes was used quite loosely for sea raiders from any of the northern lands now collectively known as Scandinavia as well as no doubt those Danes/Norwegians resident in Ireland. Vikings throughout the first half of the 9th century established raiding base camps at Cork, Wexford, Waterford, Youghal and I suppose could have been those that formed an alliance with the Cornish. The Cornish had been in contact with the Danes 3-4 years before 838 and together had won a number of battles against the Saxons. It's interesting to note that it was another 80 odd years (920AD) before the Welsh started thinking of an alliance between the Welsh and the Irish Norsemen, the Kymry a gwyr Dulyn (Welsh and men of Dublin), to drive the Saxons out of Britain. Seventeen years later in 937 Constantine III, King of the Scots formed an alliance with Welsh, Norse/Irish and Viking chieftains against Athelstan. According to a poem in an Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the Celto-Norse army got a whipping at the Battle of Brunanburh. I suppose if the Cornish were part of the pact and took part they would have been included as part of the Welsh force. It's of course the year before the Battle of Brunanburh Athelstan was supposed to have eliminated opposition in Cornwall. The exact site of the of the Hingston is as debatable as the exact site of Brunanburh. This is certainly an interesting part of our Cornish and British history never touched on during my school years.

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Post by Ed » Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:22 am

Of the two Hingston Downs, the Cornish one is a few miles to the west of the Tamar and the Devon one is right up in Dartmoor.
Tactically the Cornish location would make the most sense as it is right next to the border, whereas the Devon one is in a remote location. The Cornish location is also quite near the sea and would suit an amphibious force such as a Danish one, especially if they were going to capture the port of Plymouth. But if one was attacking Devon from Cornwall the most likely place to go for would be the administrative centre of Exeter and Moretonhampstead is on a direct line from Cornwall to Exeter.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x ... 0&ay=85500
http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x ... 5&ay=71450

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