Report by: Phil Bateman
Tonight the fledgling Wednesfield Heritage Society is visiting the Mayorâ€™s Parlour in Wolverhampton where the Mayor Councillor Bert Turner, will display the former Chairman of Wednesfield Urban District Council chains of office.
Wednesfield UDC was subsumed by Wolverhampton in 1966 when the Government of the day legislated for boundary changes.
The fiercely independent Urban Districts of Wednesfield, Tettenhall and Bilston joined Wolverhampton on that date in 1966, forming the metropolitan area of what is now Wolverhampton City Council.
They didnâ€™t agree to the merger, they were forced into the arrangement!
The Wednesfield chains of office are kept on display in the Mayorâ€™s Parlour. Though the current Mayor Councillor Turner is himself a Bilstonian, and he has arranged for the Bilston Civic Regalia to be repatriated to Bilston so that todayâ€™s Bilston residents can see their own history in that part of the City.
Tonight is a good time to view the civic regalia of Wednesfield as we are once again approaching the anniversary of one of the most important battles of British history. It was on August 5/6, in the year 910 when the great battle of Wednesfield took place:
Because it was here in our noble village of Wednesfield that the West Saxons and Mercian’s defeated the Northumbrians Danes.
That is why we have our uniquely named village – Wednesfield. In the Anglo Saxon world we live in today, there are many places with similar sounding names. But there is only one Wednesfield.
The battle that took place here is one of the great historic facts. I am very keen to see this famous battle recognised not only by the City but the region.
Edward the Elder in August 910 sent an army that took on the Danes in a battle at Wednesfield. The battle gave the name to Wednesfield. Woden was the God of War. Hence Wodensfield became Wednesfield in modern times.
“Reconquest of the Southern Danelaw
Nothing is reported of English / Danish hostilities between the battle of the Holme in late 902 and 906. That there were hostilities is suggested by the fact that Edward made peace with the East Anglian and Northumbrian Danes in 906; one manuscript of the Chronicle says he made peace “from necessity”, a formula which suggests he had to pay the Vikings to cease ravaging. A cryptic note from 907 that Chester was restored suggests more fighting in that year.
The first clear action of the reconquest came in 909, when Edward sent an army of West Saxons and Mercians into Northumbria, where it ravaged for five weeks. The following year the Northumbrian Danes descended on Mercia, and the army of the West Saxons and the Mercianâ€™s overtook them at Wednesfield near Tettenhall and killed a great many of them, including two or three kings and, according to the Chronicle, “many thousands of men”.
After this defeat the Northumbrian Danes stayed north of the Humber, which allowed Edward and his Mercian allies, Ã†thelred and Ã†thelflÃ¦d, to concentrate on the Danish armies south of the Humber.”
I like to think that this hugely historic victory on the battlefields of Wednesfield, stemmed the Viking tide. If they had won that battle – perhaps today we would be shopping in a modern Wednesfield, and instead of speaking Anglo Saxon, we would be ordering our goods in Danish! Our history I believe was that important to this great Country of ours!
So tonight as we gather in the Mayors Parlour in Wolverhampton, led by Wednesfield Historian Ray Fellows, just a few months from the August 910 battle anniversary. Our little group will lead calls once again for Wolverhampton as a City to do much more than it currently has done to date, to recognise this hugely historical moment in the United Kingdomâ€™s history.