The Battle of Tettenhall

This poem is based on an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which mentions that in the year 910 King Edward defeated the Danes at Tettenhall (Tootenhall):

This year the Angles and the Danes fought at Tootenhall; and the Angles had the victory.

The exact site of the battle is unknown. It could have taken place at Tettenhall or could have been on high ground near Wolverhampton. Some historians have even suggested that it took place near Wednesfield because of its link with the old god Woden (Wednesfield = Woden's plain).

               The Battle of Tettenhall

It was in the distant ages, some centuries ago,
The Gallant Saxons of our Land went forth to meet the foe,
And at a place called Seisdon, near Wolverhampton town,
They sallied forth to fight the Danes for Mercia’s King and Crown.

But when the Danish leaders saw the Saxon camping ground,
They stood like men bewildered, and in wonder gazed around.
Even though outwitted by our King, whose skill they did admire,
Still in these gallant Soldiers' hearts, fresh hope it would inspire.

A council they at once did call to see what could be done
And then the war horn's blast was heard, until the glorious Sun,
Shone forth in radiant splendour as if to view the fray,
And give the Laurels unto those who really won the day.

Although outnumbered by the foe, still, strategy prevailed,
And like true heroes of our land their courage never failed.
It was then the Danes rushed madly on, and with their awful yell,
Appeared, like Demons broken loose, out of the haunts of hell.

The blood, it flowed in torrents, from the Saxon and the Dane,
And human bodies shorn off limbs were strewn about the plain.
But still each noble army seemed determined not to yield
And ere the sun had set, the Danes were driven from the field.

The gallant leaders of the Danes then turned their army round
And pushed toward old Hamptune town to find more favoured ground.
But here the wisdom of our King on whom our troops relied
Was shown, for when the Danes arrived, they found it fortified.

Now when the Danish leaders saw the Saxon army there
They retired to Tettenhall just to avoid the snare.
Whilst on their arms they retired to pass a sleepless night
In readiness at break of day, the enemy to fight.

The war horn blew, the banners waved, the glittering swords, they shone,
The Danes rushed forward up the slopes the clang of arms begun.
The conflict was an awful one, for men in heaps they lay
And no one there could scarcely tell which side would win the day.

The polished armour of the men which shone so bright before,
On which the sunbeams danced and played were now eclipsed with gore.
Some heroes, lay in pools of blood whilst some were fighting still,
On purpose, just to gratify, a cruel selfish will.

The Danes pressed forward to the crest with courage seldom seen
The Saxons, equally, as brave as heroes could have been.
They drove the Danes from off the crest then Brightric did appear,
Twas then the gallant Saxon troops, sent forth a lusty cheer.

The gallant Danes, when they beheld the foe on every side
Reluctantly withdrew again, to see how to decide.
But ere the glorious sun had set, once more they had to yield,
And leave the Saxon troops, once more the victors of the field.

Just as the day was breaking, in the distance could be seen
Troops from the neighbouring towns around, and foresters in green.
Men who could deftly wield the bow, on whom they could rely
Who'd come to fight for Mercia’s King, to win, if not, to die.

Meanwhile, the gallant Norsemen, from their fortress gazed around,
And viewed the preparations, in the Saxon camping ground.
But not a soul among them quailed, for death, they did not fear,
Each waited patiently, and calm, their leaders to appear.

Halfdene, a giant in the field, came forth the scene to view.
He scanned the Saxon army o'er, to see what he could do.
Just like a demon, there he stood, and gazed around a while,
And criticised the Saxon plans, then smiled a scornful smile.

Just then the war horn's blast was heard, the battle to begin,
And all along the Saxon line, there rose an awful din.
Our gallant troops they climbed the rocks, regardless of the foe,
Who waited there to hurl them back, upon their friends below.

The foresters, those clever men, their bows they quickly drew
And plunged their arrows in the Danes, and numbers of them slew.
But still, the Saxon King, had seen his men too quickly slain
And gave an order to retire, but to return again.

A Conference the King then called to see what could be done.
The troops were ordered back again, - the Battle must be won.
Then up the hill our troops had climbed, and charged the Danes once more,
And gained the summit of the rocks, as they had done before.

The Norsemen stood astonished, but their courage never failed,
And though overwhelmed by gallant men, not one among them quailed.
They asked no quarter, neither side, though scores of them were slain,
And headless trunks were lying round, of Saxon and of Dane.

The archers, tiring of the bow, leapt forth, and with a bound,
With axes fell upon the Danes, and smote them to the ground.
The remnants steadily withdrew, still fighting all the way
At last our valiant Saxon troops once more had won the day.

What few were left re-gained their ships and soon put out to sea
And from these dreadful savages, Mercia once more was free
And Jarl Halfdene, he sailed around the coast of Northumbria
And spread the news of his defeat which forced him to retire.

The Danish King, was so surprised when he the news did hear,
And told Halfdene, he’d come with him in the ensuing year.
He’d bring a mighty army too, to devastate the place
And drive the King from off his throne, and slay the Saxon race.

Meanwhile our troops had turned again, into the camping ground,
To view the dreadful carnage there, which lay in heaps around.
But still, they had some dear ones left, who might have shared the same
And if they had, t’would have been disgrace unto the Saxon name.

Forthwith they buried every one that lay on hill and plain
And to the people all around, Peace was restored again.
Our gallant King, and valiant men, fought nobly for the cause
And from the Britons of their land, should have their best applause. 

Thomas Bratt
(circa 1894)

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