Stamford and the Unknown Warrior, Guest Post by Garrett Pearson

About the Book

Many factors drive men to violence and conquest in this short but turbulent period of English history and thus in this book we have it all. Time and chance, greed, fratricide and regicide, a lust for power, the desire for a crown and a kingdom, land and riches.  The three main antagonists in the book: Harald Sigurdsson, William (The Bastard) Duke of Normandy and Harold Godwinson demonstrate most or all of these characteristics. In sharp contrast to the aforementioned vices is the fierce desire to fight and defend what is yours from the invader. Mixed into this chaos and death is bravery, loyalty and the fierce love of family.  

In 1043 AD. Orphan boys, Bjarke and Hakon, become foster sons to the Norse Jarl, Eysteinn Orri. Growing to manhood in eleventh century Norway, the boy’s wild youth and hunting exploits will help prepare them to become warriors under their King, Harald Sigurdsson (Hardrada)

1066 AD. The year of two invasions and three battles in England; Fulford, Stamford and Hastings have first the Norse and then the Normans fighting the Saxons for the right to the English crown and throne. Kings, Norse Jarls, English Earls and Norman nobles will die, along with thousands of men as war rages and a real life “Game of Thrones” plays out in early autumn of that year.

As great men fight in the pursuit of power, the ordinary men like Bjarke, and Hakon Orrifostersson and Fenrir their huge Elkhound, will step into fleeting fame and history as the year of Saxon England’s conquest unfolds. Paying a bitter price as they stand in the shieldwall amidst spear thrusts, sword strokes and axe blows they fight for their King but more importantly for each other and their friends.

While Bjarke, Hakon and their wives, Eerika and Asta and Oshere Carlson, Thane of Dunholm, remain fictional characters. Others in the book such as Harold, Gyrth, Leofwine and Tostig Godwinson, Harald Sigurdsson, Eysteinn Orri, William of Normandy and his peers are real. I have changed neither their actions nor battle outcomes, leaving them exactly as history renders them to us. Using a storyteller’s licence, I have but injected character into them as to the kind of men I think they would have been. 

Some will survive the carnage of Fulford and Stamford to fight at Hastings or ‘Santlache Hill’ one of the largest, longest fought and bloodiest battles of the age, and which leaves us with many “what ifs?” So many factors both before and during this decisive battle could have changed the outcome for three nations and the fate of two Kings and a Duke.

Author’s Inspiration

I was born and raised not far from Stamford and bear a Saxon name. I have an interest in all things Saxon and Viking, whether it is their culture, language, their art or how they waged war.

Research into the wars of my people against these Scandinavian invaders and later against William (The Bastard) Duke of Normandy left me with a huge respect and admiration of two qualities, courage and bravery, whist remaining indifferent to the warriors nationality and whoever they were fighting for and whichever side they were fighting on.

Courage: to follow your Lord or King to battle and stand with your brothers in a shieldwall. To fight when death is all around you and your enemy comes as close as your lover. To stand your ground and continue to fight even when you see your King fall, your honour as both an oath-bound warrior and a man will not let you leave, even to save your own life.

Bravery: when you will step out from that shieldwall and the support of your brothers to stand alone, alone on a bridge with your enemy coming at you. You know you cannot win, you can’t fight them all and you know this will be your last day, yet you will sacrifice yourself to buy time for your brothers.

We don’t have the Norseman’s real name that stood on the small bridge at Stamford that autumn day in 1066 and held up the Saxon army’s advance while allegedly killing between twenty and forty men. There is just a brief mention of him in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, written by his enemies no less!

I thought that a book telling of his bravery and sacrifice and written by his foe’s descendant would be fitting homage to a brave man and a true hero.
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Meet Garrett Pearson

Garrett Pearson was born and raised in the northeast of England; he is married with two grown sons. Captivated by the long and turbulent history of his homeland he became a dedicated student of English history and ancient military history. He is an author of Historical Fiction, a member of the Historical Novel Society and guest blogger to English Historical Fiction Authors (EHFA) and Mercedes Rochelle (Author). This is his first book on Dark Age England and the Saxon/Viking wars, he has also written three books on the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome.

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