The Battle of Gate Fulford
Earl Tostig with King Harald Hardrada and the Vikings were totally confident of a victory!
They first attacked Scarborough, which they burnt to the ground. Then, sailing up the rivers Humber and Ouse, the fleet landed at Ricall in Yorkshire, about ten miles south of York. King Harald Hardrada then led his force towards York, which had been for many years, the capital of an independent Viking state. The Nordic rule of England established by King Canute had ended just 30 years before.
On the morning of 20 September 1066 the northern earls, Morcar of Northumbria and his brother Edwin of Mercia, placed their troops between the invading Vikings and the city of York, the capital of Northumbria at a place called Fulford. Some of the Viking army remained with the fleet at Ricall but even so their fighting forces eventually totalled about 7000 men. The English forces were less than half the strength.
Across the defender's front ran a stream that drained the marsh and the fen land and this spot was an excellent choice from a defenders point of view. On the Viking's side the ground was marshy whilst the defender's bank was on firm ground.
The battle probably began mid-morning. The Saxons struck first before the full Viking force had arrived at the scene of the battle. But when all of the Viking force were in place the sheer numbers ensured that the Saxons would be defeated.
There were extremely heavy casualties on both sides but the outcome was decisive. Tostig and Harald Hardrada completely routed the forces gathered at short notice by the inexperienced governors of Northumbria, the Earls Edwin and Morcar. The city of York surrendered and everywhere from the Tyne to the Humber, had little choice but follow suit. Earl Tostig with King Harald Hardrada and the Vikings, not surprisingly, had their victory.
The news of Viking invasion and the defeat of Edwin and Morcar forced King Harold to abandon his position on the southern coast and face the more immediate threat presented by the Norwegian invasion!
Meanwhile Earl Tostig with King Harald Hardrada celebrated their victory at York...