Dr Kelly invites the reader to travel with him on a journey from the birth of King Alfred, passing through his life and battles, and arriving at the mysteries surrounding his death and final resting place. This book is based on the author's personal journey across the locations that are associated with King Alfred, combining his on-the-ground experiences with information gained through research. This book aims to make it easier for people to know where these places are and to create a greater appreciation of them. Paul Kelly is a retired dentist and has a PhD from the University of Birmingham. He is now a keen amateur historian and lives in Dorset with his partner Danielle and a big black cat called Sidney. From the author: "I start at Alfred's reputed place of birth, which was Wantage, Oxfordshire. I continue to trace him across his military engagements with the Vikings, including at the famous battles at Ashdown and Ethandun (Edington), but also at less famous engagements such as at Reading, Exeter, Wilton, Basing and Wareham. I cover the "truce" with Guthrum, the Viking leader, and also the later engagements in Kent when the Vikings landed on the north and south coasts of that county. I trace him up the River Lea into Hertfordshire where he stopped the Vikings escaping by obstructing the river. Finally, I cover his burial locations in Winchester and I examine what there is to know about the current location of his remains. My research is based on a combination of written documents and my own journeys to explore the locations associated with King Alfred. This led me to try to find enigmatic locations such as Egbert's Stone and Iglea (both covered in the book), not to mention the important battle sites of Ashdown and Ethandun. I also look at Alfred's refuge at Athelney, on the Somerset Levels, and speculate as to where he might have been before he arrived there. I also spent some time trying to understand King Alfred's relationship with London and his expanding influence beyond Wessex."
A more detailed list of the main places mentioned in the book appears below.
According to Asser, King Alfred's "biographer", this is where the King was born.
Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire
There has been speculation that Alfred got married here.
Two of Alfred's elder brothers who had been king before Alfred were interred at Sherborne. Asser was bishop here.
Steyning, West Sussex
Reported to be the initial resting place of Alfred's father, King Æthelwulf.
St Neot, Cornwall
According to Asser, Alfred visited this location to pray at this site, which in Alfred's time was the resting place of a St Guerrir.
Alfred engaged with the Vikings here in 876.
Engagement with Vikings in 876 and 893.
An important battle location not far from Reading, and a precursor to the battle there.
An important Viking stronghold and the site of a battle between Alfred's troops and the Vikings in 871.
An important battle. However, the location has not been established. Sites explored include White Horse Hill and Uffington Fort in Oxfordshire, the Berkshire/Oxfordshire downs, including Lowbury Hill, and areas near Streatley and Moulsford, including Kingstanding Hill and the nearby Ridgeway.
Basing (Basingstoke), Hampshire
An engagement with the Vikings in 871.
An unknown location but Martin in Hampshire explored. Marden in Wiltshire is also a possibility.
Alfred's elder king brother was interred here. After Alfred died, there was a dispute here between Alfred's son, King Edward the Elder, and the son of King Alfred's elder brother who seized Wimborne.
The site of Alfred's first battle as king.
Seized by the Vikings in 878 while Alfred may have been there. After the Battle of Edington it is probable that Chippenham was the location that Alfred's troops drove the Vikings back to and then held them under siege until they surrendered.
Where Alfred was hiding out prior to (or whilst preparing for) engagement with the Vikings, which took place later in 878 at the Battle of Edington.
A location where troops supporting Alfred came together prior to the battle at Edington. The location is uncertain, but the following locations were explored: the Deverills in Wiltshire, Willoughby Hedge, the vicinity of the junction between Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire near Pen Selwood, King Alfred's Tower, Stourhead, and Kilmington Common.
Where Alfred and his troops spent one night before engaging with the Vikings at the Battle of Edington. Another uncertain location, but the following were explored: Southleigh and Eastleigh Woods, including Robin Hood's Bower, near Sutton Veney, not far from Warminster; Cley Hill.
It has been suggested that Alfred's troops ascended here up to Salisbury plain in order to cross this to get to Edington
The Battle of Ethandun at Edington, Wiltshire
A famous and decisive battle. The specific location is unknown. Sites explored include: The village of Edington and nearby hills and combes, Bratton Camp and Bratton Down
Notable as the location of a church where Alfred baptised Guthrum, the leader of the Vikings, after he defeated him at Edington.
The location of the hospitality provided by Alfred to Guthrum after the latter had been baptised at Aller.
Engagement between Alfred and the Vikings in 884
Alfred camped between two Viking forces that had landed in 892. It is recorded that one of these was at Appledore. Establishing where this was helps determine Alfred's position. Apart from Appledore, other sites explored were Kenardington, Portus Lemanis, and Castle Toll.
This is where the other Viking camp was located.
Perhaps the site that Alfred used to locate himself between the two Viking forces that had landed in Kent. Bredgar and Stockbury are also explored as possible locations.
The River Lea
Approximately 20 miles north of London the Vikings built a fortress, but Alfred blocked in their boats. Areas explored include Hertford, Ware, Waltham Abbey, and the River Lea/Lee between these places.
In 886 Alfred had achieved power in London. Previously this location had been under the control of Mercia.
Alfred was interred first at the Old Minster (no longer standing) and then eventually at Hyde Abbey, Winchester. However, the location of his bones has not been established.
Evidence from charters points to Alfred's presence here
Record suggest that Alfred restored this town and he had a monastery built and appointed his daughter as abbess.
Old Wardour, Wiltshire
Alfred's presence is recorded in a document relating to a property dispute.
Locations of sea battles
Dean in Sussex
Where Asser first came into contact with King Alfred
Where Alfred was present at an assembly
The book is a Black Slash publication.