St Edmund - King of East Anglia
A Local Hero
It must be remembered that the story was passed down by word of mouth for many generations before any accounts were written down. Corruption and changes to the tale could well have been made during this period. Two or more popular legends could easily be unwittingly combined.
Some popular thought now is that he was killed or seriously wounded on the battlefield. This would suggest most, if not all of the St Edmund tale is a fabrication. There is established records of his martyrdom being highly respected in the medieval period, confirming that there are good grounds to believe the basic facts are true.
It has also been suggested that Hoxne as the place of his execution is in doubt. Clearly the village will strongly defend it’s connection. The Hoxne Treasure together with many other high status finds would indicate that this was clearly an important historical site and meeting point.
Many Anglo Saxon kings claimed decent from a ancient ‘Wolf Clan’ ,(and also direct descendents of the God Woden) therefore the insertion of a wolf in the legend would be desirable. Was The decapitation and discarding of the head a convenient way of expanding the story to include the wolf figure? Surely the Vikings would have kept a severed head of such an important enemy as a Trophy.
Is it coincidental that the founding of Rome (Romulus and Remus ) also feature a Wolf ? Following the Roman occupation the legend would have been well know in Britain. It is equally possible that the Anglo-Saxon Wolf clan legends inspired the Romulus and Remus tale.
There is archeological evidence of garrotting practised by the Viking warriors. If we discount the reuniting of head and body as an unlikely miracle , could it have be the case here which would explain the reunited head, with scar marking around the neck as detailed in the later written accounts? The Vikings may well have considered this form of execution (normally the practice for low status criminals) a final insult to Anglo Saxon Rule.
More theories / explanations welcome - I am always interested in alternative views.
Long live the KING
Saint EDMUND Analysed