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Burghal Hidage

(890AD - 920AD )

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 subject.

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
Name Hides Eorpeburnan 324 Hastings 500 Lewes 1300 Burpham 720 Chichester 1500 Portchester 500 Southampton 150 Winchester 2400 Wilton 1400 Chisbury 700 Shaftesbury 700 Twyneham 460 Wareham 1600 Bredy 760 Exeter 734 Halwell 300 Lydford 140 Pilton 360 Watchet 513 Axbridge 400 Lyng 100 Langport 600 Bath 1000 Malmesbury 1200 Cricklade 1500 Oxford 1400 Wallingford 2,400 Buckingham 1000 Sashes 1000 Eashing 600 Southwark 1800

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

Villages Referenced

Hurst Green  -   (The Youngest Highwayman on record)
Newenden  -   (Alfred the Great's Fort)

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