The Battle of Stamford Bridge, the second battle of 1066

Stamford Bridge

Having won the Battle of Fulford, the Vikings took some time off. They did not burn the City of York as they had Scarborough but, as victors, they collected tribute in the form of goods and hostages. For late September, the weather was unseasonably hot. The Vikings made camp on the western and eastern sides of the River Derwent. In this portion of one of fifteen panels, the Viking army is relaxing. The leaders, King Hadrada and Earl Tostig, gave the men permission to leave off their mail shirts which they returned to their ships. The dust storm created by the arrival of the Saxon army is indicated on the upper right.

Meanwhile, in the south of England, Earl Harold Godwinson (King Harold) had his army trained and ready to meet the expected invasion from Normandy. In Normandy, Duke William had spent all summer building boats, making armour, collecting horses and training men for his invasion army but the wind and tides had been unfavourable all summer for such an undertaking. They waited, as did King Harold and his army in England.

King Harold heard about the Viking invasion in Scarborough. The Vikings had a bad reputation which made them unacceptable immigrants. King Harold gathered some/all of his army and marched them north to York. The distance between London and York is 216 miles (347 kms) and the roads were not as they are today. It is said that they did this march in four days but, this is so remarkable that I can only think that they started out before the Battle of Fulford on September 20.


Their arrival at Stamford Bridge and their attack on September 25 was unexpected. The Vikings on the western (wrong end) of the narrow, wooden bridge were trapped. The bridge was a bottle neck being defended by one elite viking warrior known as a berserker. A berserker wore a bear fur collar (baer sarkr, or bear shirt). They were fed psychedelic mushrooms before a battle, and killed anyone in front of them until they were killed, or ran out of enemies – hence our modern word berserk! (Thank you, Heather Cawte for this information). The beserker was finally felled by a saxon who floated down the river and speared him from below. These figures are not yet completely stitched.

After that, the armies formed up in the manner that was traditional for the time and a bloody battle was fought with huge losses on both sides. Both King Hadrada and Earl Tostig died. The section of the army left guarding the boats led by King Hadrada’s son-in-law (who was also killed) arrived in haste but the victory went to the Saxon army.

I was unable to locate a stitching that I was sure was of the battle. Instead, this photo, taken in July 2017, shows visitors viewing the work-in-progress. The tapestry is stitched on linen fabric, a cotton backing and uses Appletons wool threads. The design is placed on the cotton backing, marked through the front linen with running stitch. It is then outlined with stem stitching and filled with Bayeux stitch. Chris Rock designed the tapestry, the volunteer stitchers are under the leadership of Shirley Smith. They have some kits available if you would like to stitch a small piece for yourself or to contact them, go to

The final picture is of the longboats returning to Norway. Out of the 300 boats that landed, only 24 were needed to take the survivors home. Two generations of men were in that invasion army. We have also experienced this huge loss of men in more recent times. The Vikings promised to never, ever invade England again. The days of Viking supremacy were over. They stayed home, recovered, and became Norwegians.

The information here may or may not be correct. Brevity is not always the best sieve for historical information. The videos below are recent and were filmed on location and will be more accurate.

Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project 1066 – 2016

Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project 1066 – 2016

Baz Battles. Historical informational video


Although Stamford Bridge was a great triumph for King Harold and the Saxons, their strength was sadly depleted by the fight. And now they faced an even greater foe as news arrived that Duke William of Normandy had landed in Sussex on September 28. The weary Saxons turned south once more and marched back as quickly as they had come.STA

Read the third and final episode to hear what really happened at the Battle of Hastings.

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    • Marg Gillies
    • December 5, 2017

    Thanks Anne for forwarding this interesting bit of history – an interesting project too for these women to undertake.

      • Ann Bernard
      • December 28, 2017

      Hello Marg,

      Thank you for your comments. The cover for Spring Flowers was a challenge to both design and stitch but I was really pleased at how well it turned out.
      The Battle of Stamford Bridge was a biggy and really did effect the outcome of the Battle of Hastings. I am now posting on the Bayeux Tapestry and it is a fascinating insight into history at a time when there were no cameras to record any of the events.
      Happy New Year wishes, Ann B.

    • Sarah Jackson
    • December 8, 2017

    Your work has sparked an interest in stitching a tapestry of the Battle of Marianna, Florida which occurred during the American Civil War in which my great great grandfather fought.

    How would I achieve such a project? The size, placement of figures? I don’t know the questions to ask. Your advice is needed

    • Ann Bernard
    • December 28, 2017

    Sarah, What a wonderful idea. are you a member of an embroidery group/guild? Do you know oa an artist who would design it for you?
    Get started with a pencil and paper – write down all the facts that you know and place them in sequence. Try drawing something to go with each fact. Do some research into the clothes and armaments that your great great grandfather would have used.
    As you work with your ideas, they will grow to become something that an artist and stitchers can use to create an embroidered tapestry.
    Every best wish on your venture and please keep me posted on your progress.
    Ann B.

  1. Reply

    Hi, Ann – thank you for featuring our project! I can confirm that all the photos here are of our project, and that more can be seen on our website, We don’t have as much time as we would like to update it, but the photos there give a flavour of our work.

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