VIKING fever has descended on a County Durham village after it was identified as a possible location for one of the most important battles in English history.

In their new book, Brunanburh Located through Egil’s Saga, Icelandic historians Stefán Björnsson and Björn Vernhardsson pinpoint an area on the outskirts of Hunwick, near Bishop Auckland, as a credible site for the battle of 937.

Considered by many as more important than the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Battle of Brunanburh saw Æthelstan, a Saxon King of England, take on and defeat the Vikings and their Scottish and Irish allies. It is often cited as the point of origin of the English nation, as it preserved English unity and according to scholar Michael Livingston “forged a political map of the future that remains.”

The location of the Battle of Brunanburh is unknown but many historians believe it was fought in The Wirral. This is partly because charters from the 12,000s suggest the town of Bromborough was originally called Brunanburh. However, there is no conclusive evidence, and scholars have put forward other possible locations.

The possibility that it could have unfolded near Hunwick has been welcomed by residents, who are eager to discover more about the battle. There is talk of setting up a village history club and working with schoolchildren to design a commemorative flag. Ian Richardson, landlord of The Joiner’s Arms in Hunwick, has even launched a celebratory ale called the Battle of Brunanburh Bitter.

Greater Willington and Hunwick county councillors Olwyn Gunn and Fraser Tinsley were thrilled when Mr Björnsson and Mr Vernhardsson alerted them to their research.

Cllr Gunn said: “We are delighted and feel very curious about it all. I know quite a lot about the history of the village but there has never been any indication before that this battle may have been fought here.”

In the book, the historians drawn upon Egil’s Saga, an account of the life of the Viking poet and farmer Egil Skallagrímsson, from Iceland. As the saga was written in the13th century, it is often disregarded as a main source for the Battle of Brunanburh. However, the historians argue that many of the poems included were written by the poet himself in the tenth century.

Egil lost his brother in the battle, and in one poem he described how he buried him at a nearby fought called Vinu. Mr Björnsson and Mr Vernhardsson suggest this was the Roman fort of Vinovia, also known as Binchester, near Bishop Auckland.

They also talk about the need for good roads to mobilise armies, with Dere Street, the main road from York to Scotland, passing through County Durham.

Interpretations of the meaning of the name ‘Brunanburh’ can also be linked to local landmarks, while the name Hunwick can be linked to the Vikings, often called the Huns.

There are many other clues explored within the book, which is available to buy on Amazon priced at £22.65 or £2.94 for the Kindle edition.

The description reads: “In the saga we have description of a field big enough with river on the east side and wood on the west side. Sloping area on the north side where the Scots and their allies did camp and sloped hill on the south side where the king’s men camped.

“All this can be found on a location right north of Hunwick, which is only one kilometre north-west from the bridge over the river Wear from Vinovia. The saga tells of two towns in intermediate distance and we assume Durham to be the one in the north and Darlington in the south.”

Cllr Tinsley said: “This was a real bolt from the blue and its very exciting.

“The research shows there is a good chance the battle took place in Hunwick in 937. It was one of the most important battles in English history. Battles like the Battle of Hastings decided who was going to control England but this is the battle that really England as a joined up kingdom that has lasted more than 1,000 years.”