The Battle of Gate Fulford
Earl Tostig with
King Harald Hardrada and the Vikings were totally confident of
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tostig with King Harald Hardrada celebrated their victory at