Teaching Anglo-Saxons: Alfred and the Danes at KS2

Many of you have kindly written to say how much your pupils have enjoyed the lesson where they have to complete a living graph showing the changing power struggle between Saxons and Vikings. It has really made pupils think but has also helped them to see the big picture when there is a real danger of just too many dates and battles which they can’t make sense of. Well, on Saturday I happened to be passing through the village of Edington where Alfred fought a crucial battle against the Danes in 878. The lesson suggested that this was a major turning point, so I was keen to see if there was anything about the battle. In the church I found a leaflet written by a leading academic in which the real significance of the battle of Edington was spelled out.

Alfred’s victory at Edington in 878 saved Wessex from Danish domination and prevented England from becoming a Scandinavian country.

Pretty emphatic then. After this defeat the Danes didn’t venture to attack Alfred again until 885 by which time Alfred had put the country into better condition for defence.

It was heartwarming to me to hear Y5 pupils recently being able to explain why 878 marked the turning of the tide for the Saxons, using the same  arguments as an acknowledged expert in the field.

So it just show, getting pupils to think rather than being passive recipients of other people’s pre-processed ideas, really does make the difference. Keep up the good work!

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