UK Battlefields - The UK Battlefields Trust Resource Centre - Sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Hartnett Trust
Home Page Printer Friendly Help Site Map Search for a Battle
   
You are currently here 
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
   
  »
pdf
 
   
  »
pdf
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
  Deployments

Those in the Saxon army who had ridden to the field now dismounted and formed up in a continuous ‘shield wall’ of overlapping shields. Brihtnoth’s retainers, with their leader, stood in the centre of the battle array, while the men of the fyrd were deployed on either side.

For a very approximate calculation of the frontage of the shield wall one can perhaps draw upon the late Roman military manual of Vegetius, which is known still to have been in use in the late Anglo-Saxon period: 'In a mile of field, a single line will contain 1,666 infantry, since individual fighting men take up 3 ft. each. If you wish to draw up six lines in a mile of field, 9,996 infantry are needed. If you wish to deploy this number in three lines, it takes up two miles; but it is better to make additional lines than to thin the soldiers out. We said that 6 ft. ought to lie between each line in depth from the rear, and in fact each warrior occupies 1 ft. standing still. Therefore, if you draw up six lines, an army of 10,000 men will take up 42 ft. in depth and a mile in breadth.'

Thus for an army of 3000 men deployed 6 deep the frontage would be 1500ft (460 metres). A simplified deployment using these frontages has been depicted on the Explorer and terrain maps available as a file download. However, given the many uncertainties about the numbers of troops involved these calculations are provided merely to give an order of scale.

 

   
Printer Friendly VersionClose Window