A BLOODY battle will be re-enacted 1,000 years on by villagers who believe it took place on their own doorstep.

The Battle of Assandun is believed to have been fought in the countryside, in what is modern-day Ashingdon, on October 18, 1016.

It was the fifth and final in the series of battles between the armies of Edmund Ironside, King of England, and Canute, King of Denmark.

Canute's forces ultimately triumphed, leading to the Danish conquest of England.

Residents will be celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of the battle in a special community event on Saturday, June 25, at Ashingdon Primary School, Fambridge Road, Ashingdon.

There will be a programme of events from noon until 5pm, including a falconry display, archery and axe throwing, hand to hand combat and a re-enactment of the famous battle.

Historian Ian Yearsley has given us a brief insight into the contested battle and how significant it was.

He said: “In September 1016 Edmund, who had the upperhand in the four battles up to that point, had forced Canute's troops back to their base on the Island of Sheppey on the Kent side of the River Thames.

“Short of provisions, Canute launched a raid in October through Essex into Mercia, essentially Lincolnshire and the Midlands now, and was caught by Edmund at Assandun on his way back through Essex to Sheppey. "

Although Ashingdon residents have long claimed the Essex location of the battle is their own village, the exact spot of the event is not 100 per cent certain.

The village of Ashdon, near Saffron Walden, has also claimed it is "Assandun".

Mr Yearsley said: "I have been through the original source material to look at the troop movements, the terrain and the linguistics - and discussed it all with Anglo-Saxon experts, including Dr Sam Newton from TV's Time Team and it is possible to make a case for either place.

“The case for Ashingdon is based largely on its proximity to Sheppey, the ease of the nearby River Crouch estuary for landing in compared to the gently shelving mudflats of the Thames, the fact that it had not been used before by Danish raiders, and the opportunity it provided to raid north-westwards without having to pass too close to the Anglo-Saxon stronghold of London.

“Local tradition has it that Edmund's troops were camped on Ashingdon Hill and Canute's troops were camped on Canewdon Hill before the battle.

“The battle, if it was fought here, would have taken place in the flat valley between the two hills, probably on the Canewdon side, as Edmund would have been attacking and Canute would have been defending and would have had the river behind him and nowhere to go.

“We could really do with a detailed archaeological excavation of the whole site to prove or disprove the location. The documentary evidence from the time is so sparse that finds of skeletons or weaponry would be the only way of finding out.”

The historian, 51, of Eastwood, said the battle began at dawn and lasted all day.

He added: “The outcome was decided in Canute's favour when one of Edmund's generals, Edric Streona, turned traitor during the battle and withdrew his section of the troops from the battlefield, leaving Edmund's remaining troops out-flanked and out-numbered.

“Edric had already changed sides several times, so quite why anyone trusted him is beyond me.

“The two kings initially agreed to split the ruling of England between them, but Edmund died on November 30, 1016, and Canute became sole king. He was King of England until 1035.”

It is claimed that in 1020, Canute had a minster church built on or near the site of the battle to commemorate those who died.

St Andrew's Church in Ashingdon, which was enlarged and extended in the 14th century, may contain fabric from this original building.

Mr Yearsley believes significance of the battle is that it ended hostilities between Anglo-Saxon residents and Viking invaders which had been going on since the eighth century.

He said the two cultures became more integrated as a result: “Many leading members of the Anglo-Saxon nobility were killed and a relative period of peace followed until William the Conqueror arrived at Hastings fifty years later in 1066.”