In 870 a Danish army camped at Reading and began raiding the surrounding countryside. *Æthelred, king of Wessex, and his brother Alfred gave battle at Ashdown on the Berkshire downs about 8 January 871. The struggle raged round a stunted thorn‐bush and, according to the Anglo‐Saxon Chronicle, ‘went on till nightfall’. The Danes were driven back—the first major check to their advance—but a follow‐up against their camp failed. Æthelred died within weeks and, his sons being too young to lead in battle, Alfred became king.
Subjects: British History.