there is here bulgari serpenti rose gold necklace copy sale online newest message announcement from sefien's blog

Mystery on the millennial trail of KingCanute

At the head of this wide sailed convoy was a man who would go on to become one of the country's most powerful medieval monarchs. It would take the Danish chieftain Canute "the Great" 14 months to subdue a kingdom that he would rule for 19 years of (for the era) prosperity and stability a ruler of rare capability in a troubled age. And yet his achievements were overrun by the 11th century's other big invasion. Just half a century later, the Normans would sweep over the sea, washing away both the Viking and Anglo Saxon eras in a rush of church building and dynasty founding and England's greatest Viking monarch would be lost under the shadow of William the Conqueror's broadsword.

A thousand years on, Canute is a figure hard to pin to reality born, vaguely, in Denmark in either 985 or 995. Part of the bloody saga of Viking aggression against the British Isles that blew a storm between the late eighth and the early 12th centuries, he forged an empire that took in the crowns of Denmark and Norway, as well as England, where his reign officially lasted from January 6 1017 (his coronation in London) to his death on November 12 1035. He occupied the throne for nearly two decades but can often seem a character drawn from fiction more than fact, his legend tinged with charges of arrogance and insanity. How do you find a king who resembles a fragment of a fairy tale?

Sandwich is a good place to start. Canute did not linger here in 1015. fake mens bvlgari ring The key document of the period, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, suggests that he steered his ships around Kent, heading for Wessex, Dorset and Wiltshire. But Sandwich still sings of lost centuries, its medieval ambience perhaps preserved by the silt that turned one of England's historic Cinque Ports into a town marooned two miles inland. It would have been a thriving maritime enclave on the day the Vikings materialised within pillaging range of its harbour, and flashes of this epoch remain: Strand Street, the main avenue, where carts once trundled down to the docks, now a gilded lane with boutiques specialising in glassware and trinkets; the timber framed homes on the alley of Church St Marys, eaves overhanging the pavement; the church in question, now retired, selling bric a brac, but steeped in the passing of time.

It quickly becomes clear that a search for Canute will take me through some of the most picturesque portions of fake bvlgari women ring the English countryside. His campaign against the Saxon wearers of the crown, Aethelred and then his son Edmund, took this daring Dane across the country, as far west as Somerset, as far north as Northumbria. But he can have fought in few prettier places than Otford, the Kent hamlet where, in the struggle to seize London, battle was met in September 1016.

Driving into the village, I find myself in that version of England that talks of Constable paintings and Hardy novels. Here is rural perfection: St Bartholomew's Church, a splendid shard of the 11th century, only just postdating Canute in its 1050 origins, its graveyard fanning out leafily behind it; a roundabout with a duck pond, so charming that it has listed status; the remnants of Otford Palace, a stately pile, once a property of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which rose to be Kent's answer to Hampton Court before confiscation by Henry VIII in 1537 sparked its slump into ruin.

Fascinating facts about Britain's churches and cathedrals

Otford Palace, once owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was Kent's answer to Hampton Court Photo: ALAMY

I have come this way, south west through Kent, because I have a specific destination in mind. Pinned to the lower edge of West Sussex, Bosham is closely tied to Canute's tale.

The realm I cut through to reach it would not stop a Danish horde even now Petworth with its tangle of antique shops; Upwaltham and Halnaker, framed by vineyards. Bosham too, tucked just west of Chichester, endlessly idyllic, looks an implausible context for Viking antics. But it was here, maybe, that the myth that has come to define Canute occurred.

It is impossible to say whether his notorious attempt to "turn back the waves" is anything but apocryphal. The only note of it is in the Historia Anglorum a tome penned in the 12th century by Henry of Huntingdon, a "historian" prone to flights of fancy (the almost contemporary Encomium Emmae Reginae, an account of the life of Canute's queen Emma written in 1041, replica bulgari b zero 1 ring makes no mention of the matter). And even if it did take place, it was more likely to have knock off bvlgari ring been a gesture of piety, a demonstration to his courtiers that mortal monarchs could not match the power of God, than an act of lunacy.

Sandwich is where Canute and his Vikings came in 1015 Photo: AP/FOTOLIA

Yet visit on a warm day and you can believe that one of England's more idiosyncratic royal moments happened here. Canute is undeniably part of Bosham's past. He had a palace there, probably where the town's Grade II listed Manor House now stands in Bosham Lane. He had family too. One sad yarn claims that his daughter drowned in the millstream. Whatever the veracity of this, the brook is still here, an oddly sorrowful eddy, a lone rope swing hanging from a branch above it. So is the key location, a narrow tidal bay where seawater ebbs and flows relentlessly. I order a coffee at the adjacent Breeze Cafe, peer out of its windows at this damp expanse the clotted stench of seaweed; two swans idling in mud; signs reading "This road floods each tide" and think: "Why not?"

Of course, Bosham does not need half truths and distorted whispers to ensure its place in history. It was so pivotal to the 11th century that it featured in the Bayeux Tapestry the doomed King Harold (at this point an earl) captured praying, in 1064, in the very church that still forms the town's heart. A board outside Holy Trinity declares Bosham to be "the oldest site of Christianity in Sussex" worship in the town dating to 681. Inside, the church deals in certainties: Norman arches, wooden pews, the ingrained smell of incense.

And it is to church I go, finally to meet the man in question not in Bosham, but 40 miles north west in Winchester. Here is an amusing footnote that the former capital of Wessex, a city that resisted the Viking scourge of the ninth century with such stubborn resolve that a statue of Alfred the Great now graces its main avenue The Broadway, should be the last resting place of a Scandinavian supremo. Canute is here. After his death, he was buried in the seventh century Old Minster then transferred to its vast 11th century Norman replacement.

Winchester Cathedral is where he is buried Photo: AP/FOTOLIA

My final footsteps to his "grave" take me over flagstones worn down by a weary millennium of boots and heels to the chancel, where the king has company. In 1642, as the Civil War raged, Parliamentary troops picked up the eight mortuary chests that contained the remains of several bishops and medieval monarchs, and scattered them to the floor. Now there are only four chests, the bones within a jumble of Saxon, Viking and Norman the latter in the form of William II, the Conqueror's son.

It seems an undignified way to spend eternity, which is why the chests are currently stored in the lady chapel, undergoing DNA analysis that will help sort foe from friend, enemy from rival and predecessor from successor. What Jane Austen quietly entombed in the cathedral's North Aisle would have made of such matters, one can only surmise. But there is something strangely appealing about the thought of the Dane who seized the English crown joining the foremost English romantic novelist in the Hampshire afterlife.

Previous post     
     Next post
     Blog home

The Wall

No comments
You need to sign in to comment