A battle has to begin somewhere and the one fought at Fuford Gate between the Anglo-Saxons and the invading Vikings began at the village of Riccall on the River Ouse. Having decided to approach York by river King Hardrada of Norway had to find somewhere for his fleet to moor so that the army could take to the field; unfortunately, for the people of Riccall, the pronounced bend in the river made it a logical choice. It also meant that Hardrada had a base from which to begin his planned conquest of the northern part of England.
This is not a long piece but I think it is important. Not only does it explain the manoeuvres of the Norsemen from a military perspective it also allows for a vivid interaction between some of the key characters in their ranks. This is particularly true of Hardrada and his son, Prince Olaf. Hardrada is entering the autumn years of his life and he has too much experience of battle not to be aware that even he could die in the coming conflict. For that reason he is reluctant to allow Olaf take the field, but the young man’s insistence to be allowed to be a true Viking heartens him. It also puts him in a difficult situation as he has to change his mind in a very public fashion; something not normally done by a king. Fortunately, his good friend Siward provides an acceptable compromise. I suppose that what this shows is that Hardrada is not at his best. He is under considerable pressure and the whole enterprise is a huge gamble, one that he cannot afford to lose. Again, I think that his portrays the more human aspects of the historical figures.
Below is a PDF file of the chapter under discussion. Please, click on the link and enjoy.