Battle of Marton

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Battle of Marton
Part of the Viking invasions of England
Date 22 March 871
Location "Marton" (uncertain location)
Result Viking victory
Wyvern of Wessex.svg
West Saxons

Danelaw Vikings
Commanders and leaders
Æthelred of Wessex
Alfred the Great
Halfdan Ragnarsson

The Battle of Marton or Meretum took place on approximately 22 March 871 at a place recorded as Marton, perhaps in Wiltshire or Dorset. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the battle took place "about two months" after a prior loss to the Danes at the Battle of Basing, in which both sides suffered heavy losses. King Æthelred of Wessex and Prince Alfred fought against the Danes, who were possibly under the leadership of King Halfdan Ragnarsson, who had commanded many of the earlier battles that year. The Chronicle tells us that the forces were split in two and that the Danes were initially put to flight, but at the end of the day and after "much slaughter" the Danes remained masters of the field. Among the fallen was Bishop Heahmund.

It was the last of the battles known to be fought by Æthelred against the Danes that year, and the defeated King is reported to have died on 15 April 871. Whether he died in battle, or as a result of wounds suffered in battle is unclear. The site of the battle is unknown. Suggestions include the borders of the London Borough of Merton,[1] Merton in Oxfordshire, Merdon Castle (Hursley parish near Winchester) in Hampshire,[2] Marden in Wiltshire, Marten in Wiltshire[3] or Martin in Dorset. The more westerly locations tend to be favoured because King Æthelred was buried in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, shortly afterwards.

Another possible location for the battle is at Merriton, on the banks of the River Stour, a few miles downstream of Wimborne, thus providing a simple journey by barge with the body of King Æthelred. The medieval manor of Merriton was situated on what is now the southern perimeter of Bournemouth (Hurn) Airport.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "A Brief History of Merton by John Precedo: Part 1 - Romans to the Norman Conquest". Tooting Website - History. Archived from the original on 13 April 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2005. 
  2. ^ "Victoria County History - Hampshire - Vol 3 pp417-422 - Parishes: Hursley". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Victoria County History - Wiltshire - Vol 16 pp8-49 - Kinwardstone Hundred: Great Bedwyn". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 28 November 2015.