Parish Council Fisticuffs

Fighting talk turns into action for parishioners in Briercliffe, or as the Daily Telegraph puts it:

Parish council meeting descends into fist fight – over allotments

Eeh, that takes me back. Having lived in that part of the world for nearly 30 years, I imagine I would recognise some if more video were shown.

Briercliffe, still sometimes known as  Briercliffe and Extwistle, lies to the east of Burnley, sitting on the western slopes of the Pennines. Backing onto Boulsworth Hill (1,696 ft above sea level) and for the most part in the watershed of the river Don, this part of Lancashire is thought to be a potential site for the Battle of Brunanburh (fortress near the Brun, or alternately, fortress forever brown). The river Don feeds into the Brun, which is the river that Burnley takes its name from (Brun Lea – meadow by the Brun).

What is the Battle of Brunanburh?

Overlooked by many, this battle (937 AD) is held important because it ensured that England had an Anglo-Saxon character when the Normans invaded in 1066; thus ensuring the unique character of our language and culture. Research into this battle has little more than a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to go on. In it the army of Æthelstan, King of England, and his brother Edmund secured victory over the combined armies of Olaf III Guthfrithson, the Norse–Gael King of Dublin; Constantine II, King of Alba; and Owen I, King of Strathclyde.

The logic of war dictated that Æthelstan’s enemies attempt to get Jorvik (York) to rise up against him. The marauding Viking-Danes that ruled there had recently been subjugated; until their arrival the expanse that would become Yorkshire was known as Deira. It was a significant part of the Old-North which had over the centuries, fallen to the Anglo-Saxons. The Great Heathen Army captured Eoforwic (now York) in 868 and had been using it as a raiding base for over 60 years. Eoforwic became Jorvik and was a thorn in Æthelstan’s side which he was glad to finally blunt.

Old North pre Anglo-Saxon names in brackets

Old North with Anglo-Saxon names in brackets

Alba and Strathclyde came from the North and the Irish from the West; combined armies are more formidable and it is likely they strove to achieve this. So in this war, the logic of Æthelstan’s enemies would be to

1) free Jorvik, thus increasing their numbers
2) combine Strathclyde and Alba with the Irish.

Æthelstan and his brother, Edmund, met their enemies and prevailed; Anglo-Saxon rule continued to predominate in these islands until the coming of the Normans.

Several studies of this battle have been put on line including:

The Battle of Brunanburh 937 AD
Battle of Brunanburh
Cuerdale Hoard (Courtesy of Treasure Hunting Magazine)
From The History of Burnley,Part III by Walter Bennettwhile you’re on this site, if you’re persistent, you should search out:
• The Tumuli on Beardley Hill
• from The Reeve Edge Inn
• Where Was The Battle Of Brunanburh Fought?
(a letter to the editor of the Preston Chronicle, Saturday August 15 1863 )

In the moors that run through Briercliffe and Extwistle, there’s sufficient evidence to conjecture a battle. Maybe the fire of that meeting still runs through the veins of locals.

About Terence Park

Board games, US Comic books, SF Paperbacks, Vinyl records; I've plenty of them all. I write SF (the serious sort). I also do spreadsheets.
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