Thursday, 27 October 2011

Battle of Posbury 661

Distance:        1.5 miles
Terrain:        Most of the walk is over surfaced lanes with one steepish slope.
Public Transport:    There are no public transport links to this battlefield.
Parking:        There is some limited roadside parking, but care should be taken not to block the road to other motorists.
Refreshments:    There are no refreshment facilities on the walk, although plenty are available in Crediton three miles to the northeast.


After the crushing defeat of the Dumnonian invasion of Wessex at Bindon the two kingdoms were at comparative peace for a generation. No doubt there was a degree of border squabbling and there may have been battles the records of which have not  survived, but there were no major wars.

Then in 658 warfare erupted once again. King Cenwalh of the English kingdom of Wessex faced an invasion of the Welsh Dumnonians. He met the invaders at Penselwood, south of Frome. The Dumnonians received a crushing defeat and fled “like a man flees fire” according to a contemporary account. The victory for Cenwalh was impressive and he was able to occupy most of Somerset as a result. Three years later he decided to continue the English advance into Dumnonia with a daring strike west past Exeter to surround and capture that city.

At the time Exeter was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Britain, though given the basically agricultural nature of the economy that is not saying much. There were probably about 700 households in the city giving a population of around 2,000. The city was still surrounded by its impressive Roman walls, sections of which still stand today, but defence depended on the Dumnonians mustering enough men into the city to man the defences. It was probably to stop this that Cenwalh found himself marching to Posbury, southwest of Crediton.

from Battlefield Walks in Devon by Rupert Matthews

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