Battle of Hehil
|Battle of Hehil|
West Saxons (probably)
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Hehil was a battle won by a Briton force, probably against the Anglo-Saxons of Wessex around the year 720. The location is unknown, except that it was apud Cornuenses ("among the Cornish").
Although the Annals of Wales does not specifically identify the Anglo-Saxons as the enemy, it is considered[by whom?] that the failure to specify an enemy was simply because it would have been obvious.
While refuting this logic, the Chronicle of Princes seems to verify the Annals' account and clearly include Hehil among a pair of victories over the Saxons:
The same year Rhodri Molwynauc was made king over the Britons, and a great war arose between him and the Saxons, during which the Britons won two battles honorably. The same year, the battle of Garthmaelawg took place, and another in Gwynedd, and the battle of Pencoed in Glamorganshire; in all which three the Britons conquered.
The site of Hehil is not known. In the early twentieth century, Celtic scholar Donald MacKinnon was not willing to say more than that it was on "the Devonian peninsula". However, it has long been considered to have occurred either at or near Hayle in west Cornwall,[a] or somewhere on the River Camel,[b] previously known as the 'Heil', but Malcolm Todd pointed out that these sites are "too far west to be taken seriously". For instance, in 658, Wessex had won the Battle of Peonnum, probably somewhere in Somerset, pushing the West Britons back beyond the River Parrett. Wessex won another battle at "Posentesbyrig"—perhaps somewhere in East Devon—in 661, and had another victory, the Battle of Llongborth in 710, which may have been at Langport, Somerset.
Todd suggested that Hele at Jacobstow in north Cornwall,[c] or Hele in the Culm Valley in east Devon would be more likely locations. Christopher Snyder, however, simply states that "722 The Annales Cambriae record a British victory at Hehil in Cornwall".
The British victory at Hehil in 722 may have proved decisive in the history of the West Britons: it was not until almost a hundred years later (814) that further battles are recorded in the area, a period which Nicholas Orme sees as probably consolidating the division between Cornwall and Devon.
- For instance, Frank Stenton thought it was at Hayle, and Leslie Alcock wrote "The most obvious interpretation of 'Hehil among the Cornish' is the river Hayle in west Cornwall",
- For instance Philip Payton located it "probably [at] the strategically important Camel estuary", Leonard Dutton suggested "at or near the spot where the fifteenth century bridge at Wadebridge crosses the Camel", and W. G. Hoskins put it at Egloshayle on the River Camel.
- Jacobstow is supported by the landscape archaeologist Della Hooke.
- Harleian MS. 3859. Op. cit. Phillimore, Egerton. Y Cymmrodor 9 (1888), pp. 141–83. (Latin)
- Ingram, James. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Everyman Press (London), 1912.
- For the original Latin for both the A & B texts, see: Annales Cambriae at the Latin Wikisource. (Latin)
- Archaeologia Cambrensis, the Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, Vol. X., Series 3. "Brut y Tywysogion". Smith (London), 1864. Accessed 10 Feb 2013. (Welsh) & (English)
- MacKinnon, Donald. The Celtic Review, Vol. 10 (1916), p. 325
- Cited in: Higham, Robert (2008). Making Anglo-Saxon Devon. Exeter: The Mint Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-903356-57-9.
- Alcock, Leslie (1987), Economy, society, and warfare among the Britons and Saxons, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, p. 231, ISBN 978-0-7083-0963-6
- Payton, Philip (2004). Cornwall: A History (2nd ed.). Fowey: Cornwall Editions Ltd. p. 68. ISBN 1-904880-00-2.
- Dutton, Leonard (1993), The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms : the power struggles from Hengist to Ecgberht, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire: SPA, in conjunction with L. Dutton, p. 232, ISBN 978-1-85421-197-2
- Todd, Malcolm (1987). The South West to AD 1000. A Regional History of England. Longman. p. 272–3. ISBN 0-582-49274-2.
- Hooke, Della (1994). Pre-conquest charter-bounds of Devon and Cornwall. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK Rochester, NY: Boydell Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-85115-354-4.
- Snyder, Christopher (2003). The Britons. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. ISBN 978-0-631-22262-0., p. 292
- Orme, Nicholas (1991). Unity and Variety: A History of the Church in Devon and Cornwall. Exeter Studies in History 29. University of Exeter Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-85989-355-3.
Further reading 
- Simmons, Robert (August/September 2009). "722 and all that". Cornish World Magazine. pp. 32–5. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
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