In 2015 I took the momentous decision to abandon a 30 year career in banking infrastructure and dedicate myself full-time to history. I got tired of being told I wasn't qualified to translate the Carmen or re-interpret 1066 history because I wasn't a Latinist and I wasn't an historian. I enrolled in the taught masters programme in Medieval History at King's College London. It was brutal. I let myself be placed in the Intermediate Latin class instead of the Beginner class. I also took a year long seminar in Latin Literature which required massive amounts of weekly translation and original manuscript transcription, translation and collaborative critical editing of an unpublished Latin text. Both Latin courses were taught by Dr Daniel Hadas, whose enthusiasm for all things ancient kept me going when I felt overwhelmed. Despite my fears I got my highest exam marks in Latin and received my MA in January 2017 with merit.
Dr Hadas also generously agreed to edit my translation of the Carmen at a rate of 25 lines per week, an effort that occupied us for almost the entire academic year. The result is a massively improved translation of the Carmen, which is republished and available from Amazon globally as of yesterday. If the Latin is not perfect, it is grammatically and metrically defensible, and the English translation is far more literal than either the Merton & Muntz or the Frank Barlow editions.
A lot has changed in the new edition otherwise too. It is presented as facing pages of Latin text and English translation for easier reading and referencing. There are appendices on Imperium in England to 966, Imperium in England 966 to 1066, the New Geography of the Norman Conquest, and jurisdictions of the church, crown and ports. Everything I have studied and learned and researched for two years has been used to make this a much better book and it is now more than 300 pages long. Buy it now on Amazon or click the link to the right and get a signed copy.
One thing that didn't change is my conviction that the Norman fleet landed in the Brede Basin, camped at Icklesham, and fought the battle somewhere on the cape of Hastingas to the east of the Great Ridge. There is now much more analysis of why this geograhy makes logistical, geomorphic and military good sense. Hopefully there will be an effort to explore the basin using the tools of modern archaeology which will unearth its Norman, Dacian and Roman past.
Dacian? Yeah, well it turns out that the Vikings were Greeks. They were Bronze Age sea-armies from the Black Sea and Pontic Steppe that had settled the coasts of Britannia and Gaul to secure the supply of British tin which they could turn into bronze weapons and brass fittings for ships. There was no other plentiful source of tin in Europe 3500 years ago, and it can't be coincidence that there is Pontic Steppe DNA evidenced by haplogroups coinciding with eradication of indigenous English males beginning 3500 years ago. Thiw was also the start of the age of settled agriculture and fabrication of bronze tools and weapons. Bronze is 98 per cent copper and 2 per cent tin. British tin has been found everywhere the Bronze Age sea-armies settled, from the tombs of mummies in Egypt, to the trade goods of merchants in Tyre, to the battle shields of warriors up the Volga. All of them had Near East DNA and British tin.
And the pattern holds throughout Europe. 80 per cent of Europeans have DNA from Near East tribes around the Black Sea. Everywhere Pontic mariners spread they brought grain, cattle and exploitation of hinterlands. The hinterland tribes of Europe were for raiding and slaving, although the sea-armies could be brought to truce. Truce involved paying sea-armies tribute, providing stipendiary provisions, and allowing them have their own rule of law in their urban cantons and in port and mining commonwealths. If that sounds familiar it is probably because the pattern repeats for a thousand years of English history in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Why Dacian? Daci is the tribal name used for the warriors of King Cnut and King Harold in most original sources. Daci is what the Danes called themselves, with Danish being applied to them much later. The original accounts of the Norman Conquest say that King Harold came to battle with Duke William accompanied by many mercenaries and auxiliaries who were Daci or gens Dacorum. Until Christianisation created Danes and Denmark, the region around the Danish Hellespont was called Dacia and the people of the region were called Daci - just like their Bronze Age forebearers in Illyrian Dacia on the Black Sea. Illyrian Daci were also acknowledged to be excellent mariners and warriors.
Because we don't have really good names for these Bronze Age sea-armies, and every nation has named them something different thinking that they were indigenous tribes, I call the pattern of sea-army raids, truces and cantons 'Pontic Imperium'. Pontic reflects Black Sea origins (Pontus was the Greek name for the Black Sea), sea-army control of straits and pounds for navigation (Hellespont means 'strait-pound' in ancient Greek), and a monopoly on transport by ship within the limits of their pound. Once you look for it you find the pattern of Pontic Imperium clear in many ancient texts. Hellene would be really sensible as well, but Hellenic imperium would be confused with the Hellenic Empire, which arose much later, after the fall of Troy around 1200 BC. It probably isn't a coincidence that the Fall of Troy and the Iron Age are at about the same time. With iron weapons the tribes of the hinterlands could fight back!
So why was Hastingas Dacian or Pontic? Because whoever held the cape of Hastingas and the port in the Brede Basin controlled shipping in the strait between the south of England and the continent. And because Snorri Sturluson said so. He names the place of the battle of Hastings in the Saga of Harald Hardrata as Helsingia-port. Hels means strait in Old Norse just as helles means strait in ancient Greek. Other Pontic cantons on straits in the Baltic are Helsinki and (H)Elsinor.
Still not convinced King Harold was a Dacian? I can offer visual proof. Look at the wolf-skin standard at the side of King Harold when he dies in Scene 57 of the Bayeux Tapestry side by side with the image of a wolf-skin standard of the Dacians defeated by the Emperor Trajan in the early 2nd century on Trajan's column in Rome. Notice anything? From the gaping jaws to tufted ears to the neck ruff to the curling tail, they are the same. King Harold (a Danish name) came to battle at Hastings bearing a Dacian wolf-skin battle standard!
So now I am not just re-writing the history of the Norman Conquest, but also suggesting a much more complicated Dacians v. Romans backstory between King Harold and Duke William for control of English ports, straits and trade. Enjoy!