Downton and Cerdic 519 AD
Birthplace of King Arthur's Kingdom of Wessex and England
by Michael Alwyn Slade
Copyright 2010 ©
Battle Campaign HQ. The Cross Roads Dun-Ton (Downton).|
End Day 1.
A flash of amber and glint of gold reflects from near the central fire. A short-sword, a seaxe, can be seen outed of its weathered, bronze studded leather sheath. It has a handle of leather and stag-horn, the appearance of being a serious utilitarian weapon designed to kill not to impress opulence.
It is lying innocently among a scattering of multi-coloured ox-hides surrounding the far side of the chattering fire. More hides seem to form a small mountain at the farthest end, unnaturally dimmed by some swirling smoke circulating the hut.
A figure can just be distinguished, an obvious warrior, camouflaged amongst the hides. The seaxe now took on a fierce focus.
The fire crackles, the chieftain slumbers, his weapon no more than a whisker away from his massive hand and no less menacing arm - a tanned hairy arm as thick and matured as an olden oak branch. An arm of a successful warrior clad in well worn leather, a sparkling of chain mail. For good reason across all of Britain and Northern Europe his war earned nickname is Strong Arm - Artor - his real name the Celtic Cerdic.
Looking into the further gloom can be gleaned further similar warriors slumbering, steaming as they dried out from the warmth of the hut. Pots can be seen having contained ale. Bones lay around the remnants of a hearty meal. To one side can be seen a scattered row of round shields, royal shields as can be determined by their symbols, one a white horse, one of ravens, one of wild boar, one of an eagle, a dragon, a white hart, a falcon and an eagle, twelve in total. This was obviously a noble war court for a serious warrior army.
The room takes on more shape, it is obviously large, more of a long-house and with the usual thatch and timber roof, it has some semblance of stone walling obviously intended to offer a modicum of defence - but in no way a long term defensible position. It is in fact in day to day usage a well worn well used ale-house even an Inn.
We are in a hamlet square beside a cross roads outside, a wooden cross shows a first sign of Christian preaching. Alongside the cross however is a whipping stone showing older influence and disciplines enacted by the older authorities.
Other buildings can be seen in the gloom of night, smaller than the inn but numerous and clustered all down the rugged well mudded high street scene.
In the distance as the moon shows through the scattering clouds and rain can just be perceived a Fortified Moot, true centre of Dun-Ton's Burgh, and alongside that a Gibbet with long dead body swaying in the storm.
The rain is beating down. There is a strong spring wind. It is May Time. Cuckoo Fair time. An attempt to be-flag the huts can be seen as recognition of the Fair.
We are at the hamlet of Waelton on the outskirts of Dun-Ton - the pride of the Avon Valley right on the fringe of the forest.
Two fine proud horses canter down the burgh street from the west, such horses and body armour show them to be carrying further royal warriors proudly wearing their standards, their weapons as before seen in the long house can be seen dominant in their possession and include a spear, a javelin, a seaxe, an axe and a round leather clad shield to their backs, one is resplendent with a White Dragon the other with a White Hart. Each standard carries similar symbols.
The horsemen dismount alongside a pound where a dozen or more proud horses can be seen sheltering beneath some yew trees. Two sentries accept the horses and immediately attends to their feeding and watering. It is obvious this is a well oiled machine of an army in action, their actions, their focus and almost lack of any obvious commands command respect.
A proud standard four times the size of the arriving horsemen's flutters outside the long house. A White Horse Standard, obviously the twin of one real splendid steed seen guarded by the pound.
The two warriors place their spears and javelins at the entrance to the long house, the Inn. They cautiously peer past a third sentry who recognises them immediately and stands aside as the incomers indicate quiet is demanded.
A smoothly hinged door swings clear and the fire-light streams out its colour and highlights the slumbering warriors inside.
The incoming cavalrymen delight in breaking the silence with a hearty intro - "Cynric and Aelwyn reporting back Sir." It was as if the whole place had been hit by a maelstrom, bodies fell about scattering debris and automatically grabbing their adjacent weapons as they focussed on their perceived threat. As a well oiled machine they were all instant to translate the threat into no more than a well ordered yet boisterous awakening. From panic to composure in a couple of seconds. At the centre of attention was the noble warrior who was undoubtedly first to respond, his slumber no more than an instant from alertness, a honing of decades of battle hardened living.
Swords could now be seen glistening menacingly all around the Inn. A barrage of lamb bones from the earlier feast whacked the door as the slumberers responded with good hearted response - with many a Britons swear words interspersed with what would in normal times be indisciplined warrior name banter to a superior officer.
"Good to see you safe again my sons. Settle down. Good news all round I hope" was the greeting from Cerdic, Strong Arm. "Aelwyn you look famished see our old friend Wigtburn the innkeeper, there's another lamb on the spit round there, and Cynric there's jugs of ale at your elbow if we haven't knocked them all over, pass me another one to celebrate another battle won, well half won anyway."
"Thank you Sir" said Cynric. "Good to see you well in control and alert as usual. Great to be back in Dun-Ton."
"We are welcomed by the locals," replied Cerdic, "Many I recognise from my youth with you here. Yes, we have truly trounced Natan today, we have broken the back of his defence and will be in a good state tomorrow to attack his forces all along the valley. Our men are already all in place, 2000 or more now with similar reinforcements backing up in the Forest and the same again in reserve at CaerGwen (Winchester) ready for action at days notice when and if needed. Natan the traitor has indeed seen his men grow rusty and tired they are not slick or determined they will not last the week out before many trapse off over the horizon to all points East and North whence they came. No rich pickings for them despite Natan's empty promises. The valley is as good as ours again. So tell me all of today's successes noble warriors……."
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