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Byrhtnoth's Last Essex Visit


79 km / 49 miles
Ealdoram Byrhtnoth was a veteran East Saxon hero who lost his life leading his countrymen against Viking raiders at the battle of Maldon on 11 August 991, that is remembered in Anglo-Saxon poetry and in Maldon's 1991 Battle Millenium Tapestry. Byrhtnoth was summoned from distant Ely by Maldonian's concerned that their new burh (castle) might not be enough to defend them against a splinter group of Viking raiders camped nearby on Northey Island in the estuary, after the main group had sacked Gippeswyck (Ipswich) and sailed home. Recruiting as he marched from Ely at harvest time, the six-foot warrior may have used valley routes close to the Great Ouse to Cambridge and the Cam to reach Great Chesterford where the current route starts at the entry to the then East Saxon Kingdom, now Essex.

It follows the Cam valley to Saffron Walden, crossing into the Pant river valley and then near Wimbish to the river Chelmer valley that it follows south via Thaxted and Great Dunmow to Chelmsford. Here the Chelmer turns east, joining the Blackwater (Panta in Roman times) to reach the head of the Blackwater estuary at Maldon, where the site of the battle is finally reached. While the walk's route follows the second part of Byrhtnoth's conjectured route, for those wishing to complete the full journey from Ely, the author, Laurence Taylor, suggests using the Fen Rivers Way from Ely to Cambridge and part of the West Anglian Way (Cambridge to Cheshunt) using its Great Chesterford alternative, in all an additional 36 miles or so, with OS Landranger 143 or Explorer 226 additonally needed.

Links include West Anglian Way/Fen Rivers Way and Essex Way, Icknield Way Path and Centenary Circle (of Chelmsford).


Path Type: Other Paths
Attributes: Heritage
Start: TL502427 - Great Chesterford, Essex View on StreetMap
Finish: TL860054 - Maldon, Essex View on StreetMap
Open Date: 2005

Publications, Badges and Certificates:

Looseleaf West Anglian Way  (Cambridge Group Ramblers )


You can use the interactive controls to zoom in and out and to move around the map, or click on a path or a marker for more info.(interactive map help)

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Paths Marked on OS mapping
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Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2016.
© OpenStreetMap contributors under Open Database Licence.
Rights of way data from selected Local Authorities.
Large scale digital mapping is provided by John Thorn.
At high zoom levels the route is indicative only.
Purchase Ordnance Survey Maps:
OS Landranger 154, 167, 168
OS Landranger Active 154, 167, 168
OS Explorer 176, 183, 195, 209
OS Explorer Active 176, 183, 195, 209

Connected Paths:


Route Profile:

80.7 km (50.1 miles)
587 m (1,926 ft) ascent
125 m (410 ft)  maximum height

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