Countdown to Battle

After the Battle of Hastings, the Normans took over south-east England and William was crowned King of England.  However the west and north remained beyond Norman control and early in 1068 King Harold’s mother, Gytha is thought to have encouraged Exeter to defy King William.  After an eighteen day siege in January 1068, King William captured Exeter and Gytha fled to the island of Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel.  Early in the summer, Harold’s sons left the rebels who had gathered in York and made their way to Ireland.

Exeter Castle

The Raid of 1068

Harold’s sons sought the support of King Dairmat, the High King of Ireland.  In 1052 King Dairmat had lent Harold men and ships for a successful bid to reclaim the family’s power and lands after they had been banished from England.  In 1068 King Dairmait lent Harold’s sons 52 ships and an army to raid England.  They landed near Avonmouth and devastated the area around Bristol, failing to capture the town.  Later they landed at Bleadon, perhaps seeking supplies and fought a battle with an army of local English levies.  Magnus may have been injured in this battle because he is not mentioned again.  After the battle, the fleet plundered the coasts of Devon and Cornwall.