About Matthew Ryan    

Matthew Ryan
Historical Illustrator
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Battle of Ashdown - 871”  

Open edition print 440x594mm                   £60.00

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Prince Alfred (the future King Alfred the Great) leads the Anglo Saxons of Wessex on behalf of his brother King Ethelred against the Danish invaders under King Bagsecg, King Halfdan and five Earls. The shield wall formation, according to Alfred's chronicler Bishop Asser, clashed around a simple thorn tree of stunted growth. One thorn does not play a role in the developments of a battle, so I believeit is mentioned by Asser because it had a symbolic religious connotation. Whether the thorn existed, it had meaning to those at the time who read about it. It is for this reason that I decided to add Asser's Stunted thorn to the painting. To illustrate its inclusion may be due to Christian meanings I have highlighted it with rays from the sun. Crows in this part of the painting represent the Pagan army and their use of Odin's Ravens on their battle banners.

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