Cuthbert, patron of huntsmen, stands very high will surely warmly befriend them hereafter, when he has settled his accounts with many persons and things. From the time of this incursion of Halfdene, Northumbria may be considered once more a settled state, but a Danish, not a Saxon one.
The kings Guthorn, Bergsecg, Oskytal, Halfdene, and Amund, and the Jarls Frene, Hingwar, Hubba, and the two Sidrocs, with all their followers, had marched down from Yorkshire to join the invaders who had just landed. The news of this immense reinforcement spread consternation among the Angles.
But now he, with the remains of his army, is shut up in an inland fort with no ships on the Avon, the nearest river, even if they could cut their way out and reach it, and no hopes of reinforcements overland. Halfdene is the nearest viking who might be called to the rescue, and he, in Northumbria, is far too distant.
The pagans, however, are not yet ready for another throw for Wessex; and so when Mercia is sucked dry for the present, and will no longer suitably maintain so great a host, they again sever. Halfdene, who would seem to have joined them recently, takes a large part of the army away with him northward.
He begged them, said Bede, should they be forced to leave that place, to carry his bones along with them; and so they were forced to do at last; for in the year 875; whilst the Danes were struggling with Alfred in Wessex, an army of them, with Halfdene at their head, went up into Northumbria, burning towns, destroying churches, tossing children on their pike-points, and committing all those horrors which made the Norsemen terrible and infamous for so many years.
Nine great battles, besides smaller skirmishes, were fought this year, in some of which the English won and in others the Danes. One famous battle was at Ashdown, in Berkshire. We are told that the heathen men were in two divisions; one was commanded by their two Kings Bagsecg and Halfdene, and the other by five Earls, Sidroc the Old, Sidroc the Young, Osbeorn, Fraena, and Harold.
Among other holy places in those parts, Halfdene visits the Isle of Lindisfarne, hoping perhaps in his pagan soul not only to commit ordinary sacrilege in the holy places there, which is every-day work for the like of him, but even to lay impious hands on, and to treat with indignity, the remains of that holy man St.