The Battle of Heavenfield
Death of King Cadwallon of Gwynedd
The early 7th century had seen a major war raging between the Northumbrians under King Edwin and the Welsh and their Mercian allies under King Cadwallon of Gwynedd. With Edwin's demise at the Battle of Hatfield, it seemed that the Saxons would be completely expunged from north of the Humber. However, the Christian King Oswald returned from exile to take up the Northumbrian cause and the two enemies met in the fields adjoining the mid-section of the old Roman wall.
Before the battle, Oswald raised a large wooden cross as a standard for his army and, beneath it, they prayed together for victory. The battle was fierce and bloody and the Welsh were completely defeated. King Cadwallon himself was killed crossing the Rowley Burn, while fleeing south along Watling Street.
A chapel was raised to commemorate this great Saxon triumph and dedicated to King Oswald who was popularly proclaimed a saint. Subsequent buildings were replaced by the present structure in 1737. And the little chapel certainly makes the site easy to identify. A modern cross stands in the adjoining lay-by and explanatory boards tell the story of the conflict.
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