The Burgal Hidage is a collection of a number of medieval texts that describe the location
of defensive forts around the state of Wessex during the time of Alfred the Great. The document
was named the Burghal Hidage by F. W. Maitland in 1897 after a great deal of research into
The documents list the forts anti clockwise around Wessex starting at the unproven location
of Eorpeburnan on the Kent and Sussex borders ( this is possibly located at Newenden ,
Hurst Green or Ashburnham ), around the borders of Wessex ending at Southwark on the Thames .
The Anglo Saxon word Burgh or more correctly Burh describes a defensive position or fort
usually on a hill with a defensive ditch and bank topped with wooden walls and an internal
regular layout to help the defenders. These Burhs were mostly built during the reign of
Alfred the Great to defend Wessex against the Viking invaders.
Each Burh has a number of hides associated with it, which describes the size of the Burh
and its defensive population.
The Burhs listed in the Burghal Hidage are as follows
Each hide of land supplied 1 defender to the fort and 4 defenders were needed to
defend 1 pole (1 pole is 16.5ft) of wall. Therefore each hide will provide protection
for approx 4 ft of wall.
For the maintenance and defence of an acre's breadth if wall
16 hides are required. If every hide is represented by 1 man,
then every pole of wall can be manned by 4 men.
Then for the maintenance of 20 poles of wall 80 hides are required