A major battle was waged at the village of Stamford Bridge near York on this day in 1066. The fight between King Harold Godwineson’s forces and the Vikings led by Harald Hadrada came to a head at a crossing of the River Derwent, roughly where the current bridge is today, although some historians dispute this. According to the Anglo- Saxon chronicle, a giant Viking blocked the crossing, killing 40 men in the process, until one of the English soldiers floated under the bridge and spiked the giant Viking painfully from below. Harald Hadrada was killed by an arrow in his windpipe, leading to an English victory. The battle, along with one at Fulford, five days earlier had significance in that afterwards, Harold’s army faced a long march south to Hastings, where the Normans, led by William the Conquerer were waiting for them. Tired and battle weary from action in against the Vikings in the North was a huge factor in the Saxon’s eventual defeat and the start of the Norman invasion.
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