Last of the Vikings

Here in Fulford we can lay claim to the first battle of 1066, but its site – where Harald Hadrada’s Viking invaders reached York – has never been formally marked.

Never mind: like its notorious sequel at Hastings it still deserves a tapestry.

Here it is.

Fulford Tapestry 1

Panel 1: the invaders reach the East coast: Scarborough

Fulford Tapestry 2

They rampage west, through Holderness. A scout watches from a tree so news can reach York.

Fulford Tapestry 3

They sail up the Humber to Riccall (south of York). The bottom panel shows men being mustered, and supplies arriving.

Fulford Tapestry 4

Earls Edwin and Morcar defend York: the battle site is to the city’s south. They have a good position and face weaker troops.

Fulford Tapestry 5

When the defenders have been tempted down from their position, Harald’s stronger troops arrive! The woman on horseback in the top panel is Rhiannon, Goddess of those who face overwhelming odds.

Fulford Tapestry 6 The keys to York

The Vikings ride into York and are ‘given the keys’. The panels show daily life continuing: cooking, metalwork, and the modern work of archaeology.

A team led by Chas Jones has found partially-remade weapons on the site near Germany Beck. The beck, and the road from Riccall, have been there since Roman times.

Artisans and other camp followers would always try to salvage and repair as much as possible after any battle: metal and weapons were expensive. But here – and here only – they left quite a lot behind because time was against them.

The Battle of Fulford took place on 20th September 1066.

By 25th, the victors had to face Harold and the English army 20 miles away at Stamford Bridge!