Wirtgernesburg AD652 & Peonnan AD658
Mike McGuinness visits the sites of two West Saxon Victories.
Early Saxon Battlefields of WessexAfter the fall of Ceawlin at Wodensburg AD592, the westward expansion into what is now Somerset seems to have stopped altogether, until the arrival of Cenwalh, succeeding his father Cynegils as king of the West Saxons in AD643. Raised as a Christian, Cenwalh’s first action on taking the throne was to immediately renounce the new religion and return to the Gods of his forefathers, publicly repudiating his wife, Queen Seaxburgh, at the same time. This was an idealistic and rash move, as his wife was the sister of the ferocious King Penda of Mercia, who promptly avenged the slight to his house and drove his errant brother-in-law from his throne.
Fleeing to East Anglia, Cenwalh spent three years plotting to retake his kingdom and return to the Christian faith, and doubtless it was the threat of renewed violence from the Mercians that persuaded him to take back his wife. He retook his throne in AD648 through careful diplomatic negotiations organised by his nephew Cuthred and made public show of his renewed piety by a vigorous church building scheme in Winchester.