Sussex Castles




Viking Raids in Sussex


0886 Danelaw established

The brunt of the viking invasion of England was borne in the north and east of the country. The vikings eventually pushed King Alfred back into the west country of England. Here Alfred was able to regroup and eventually drove the vikings out of Wessex and part of Mercia.  In 878 Alfred decisively defeated the vikings under Guthrum  at the Battle of Ethandun. In 886 Guthram and Alfred separated England into two kingdoms. One kingdom falling under the law of Wessex and the viking area in the north and east of the country falling under viking law or Danelaw.

0892 Raid up the river Rother

Not satisfied with only half of England, large viking invasion fleets attacked up the Thames and the Rother, or Lympne, as it was then known. The viking fleet of 250 ships navigated up the Rother and found and destroyed a half built fort on the edge of the Weald. The site of the fort is uncertain, but may have been that the Burghal Hidage fort of Eorpeburnan located at Newenden, near Bodiam

The viking army then made camp at Appledore in Kent.  Over the next few years, the vikings used Appledore and other bases for subsequent raiding in the south of England. However, the new system of fortified towns created by Alfred, known as burghs, proved extremely effective and limited viking plundering.

0894 Raid on Chichester

Vikings from Appledore and other camps combined to besiege Exeter, but the burgh was able to withstand the siege until Alfred was able to bring relief. Returning up the south coast the vikings raided the burgh of Chichester, but were soundly defeated by the town militia, losing several ships in the process.

0896 Raid on the Isle of Wight

Six viking ships raided the Isle of Wight. Alfred sent nine ships to fight them. Three of the viking ships were engaged and defeated at sea, the other three viking ships and the saxon ships ran aground and the battle continued on the shore. 

The returning tide freed the viking ships first, but the vikings had suffered significant losses in the battle and the crews of two of the viking ships had insufficient fit crewmen to row past Sussex coast. The viking ships were driven back to the Sussex shore where they were captured and taken to Alfred at Winchester for justice. Alfred sentenced the vikings to be hanged.

Sussex Timeline