The Battle of Hatfield
In AD632 there was a fierce battle between the Northumbrians led by King Edwin against the Pagans led by Penda of Mercia and King Cadwallon of Gwynedd. The Battle is known as the Battle of Heathfield but we now know it as the Battle of Hatfield.
History tells us that the Battle took place at the village of Hatfield just north-east of Doncaster. Yet I cannot find any evidence to support that claim, only by the word of mouth of William Camden. (1)
Heath means ‘unattended land’.
Field means ‘a piece of land cleared of trees and usually enclosed’
So Heathfield is ‘a clearing of unattended land’.
From this point we will use the word Hatfield in preference of Heathfield.
The first recognised historian in England was The Venerable Bede (673-735) and it was he who first mentioned the Battle of Heathfield / Hatfield in the written word. 40 years before his birth, the battle in question took place.
"A great battle being fought in the plain that is called Haethfelth, Edwin was killed on the 12th of October, in the year of our Lord 632, being then forty-eight years of age, and all his army was either slain or dispersed."
In the 7th Century, a vast amount of Northumbria, Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire would fall under the heading of Hatfield.
It is quite feasible that in those days the village of Cuckney (originally named Cuchenia), would have fallen into this Region of Hatfield. We can now see that the Venerable Bede was referring to, the vast Region called Hatfield – not the village of Hatfield.
- William Camden some 900 years after the battle comes to the conclusion that the Battle took place near Doncaster, why?
Possibly because Hatfield near Doncaster was Royal Ground and people would have taken Camden’s word and just assumed that the Battle of Hatfield took place there.
Yes there was a Roman road heading south to Doncaster (Danum) but that can’t be the only reason one would suggest that the battle took place near Doncaster. If we look at Hatfield near Doncaster, there is a large hill called Sley-Burr Hill where the dead were supposedly buried. It also goes by the name Hadham Field yet no evidence comes to light only words and if it is a burial mound from what period and from what battle assuming it is from a battle.