|In 1016 King Edmund Ironside fought and lost to the Danish invader Cnut at a place called Assundun. This was traditionally taken to be Ashdon, just south of Bartlow Hills .
In the parish of ASHDON, sparated from Bartlow, in Cambridgeshire, only by a small rivulet, are four large contiguous Barrows, called the BARTLOW HILLS, from their situation being not very distant from Bartlow Chuch. These are vulgarly regarded as the tumuli raised over the slain in the battle fought between Edmund Ironside, and the Danish King, Canute, in the year 1016; but as this tradition is not supported by any historical authority, it cannot be considered as deserving of credit.(p380 of 'The Beauties of England and Wales, Or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive' by John Britton and others, 1801. It's online at Google Books.)
Cnut rather kindly built Ashdon church over the graves of the English, and created Bartlow Hills as the resting place for his own fallen warriors.
It's true and if you want further proof, Camden reports in his 'Britannia' of 1610 that:
"Dane-wort which with bloud-red berries, commeth up heere plenteously, they still call by no other name than Danes-bloud, of the number of Danes that there were slaine, verily beleeving that it blometh from their bloud."The tradition is rather like the one we have of poppies growing on the WW1 battlefields. Danewort is thought to be dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus).
(Actually the battle is now thought to have been in Ashingdon, some way away. And of course, the barrows aren't Danish. They're generally referred to as (shh) Roman - you can't deny the wealth of Roman artefacts discovered there! but to be fair they were probably rich native people who were buried in the traditional British style through their own choice).
(info from 'Albion' by Jennifer Westwood, p103)
Posted by Rhiannon
7th April 2004ce
Edited 29th July 2007ce