The battle of Maldon was fought in August 991 between English forces commanded by Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, and Vikings raiding around the east and south of England. The versions of Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record that Byrhtnoth was killed and the English were defeated. For more precise details of the battle, we are dependent on a 17th-century copy of a now-lost and incomplete manuscript of an Old English poem about the conflict. This poem, preserved in so precarious a fashion, is one of the finest Old English battle poems, and gives clearest expression to the heroic ideals of Anglo-Saxon England.
From the poem it appears that the Viking force has landed on the island of Northey in the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater (or Pante, as it is called in Old English). This island is