Historical Context Edit
Shortly after the Romans arrived, it seems the Belgae tribe in the region of the hill fort that would become Winchester welcomed the invaders with open arms. The Roman town became an important market and military center, remaining so even after the Romans withdrew. When eventually Alfred the Great became ruler of the West Saxons after he defeated the Danish Viking horde at Ashdown, he made Winchester the capital of a reborn Wessex in 871 AD. Almost immediately he set about shoring up the kingdom’s defenses against the next Danish incursion. In Winchester this meant urban renewal of a sorts, as he strengthened the walls and laid out the streets on a grid pattern to help the troops move about in it. He also organized the local militia into a “rapid reaction force.” Following the battle at Hastings, King Harold’s widow, sheltering at Winchester, surrendered the fortified town without a fight to the Normans.