I am 83 years old and have lived in the U.S.A. since 1967, but I was born and raised in England. For much of my life I lived in South Benfleet above the restaurant owned and operated by my parents on the high street across from the church. Thanks to your Saxon Tales books I now realize that it was the site of the battle of Benfleet, which I had thought was at the top of the hill (Essex Way) I also remember seeing a picture of the Long Boats unearthed when the railway was put through from Fenchurch Street to Southend, but now cannot find it. Can you help?
I’ve never seen a picture of the Viking ships discovered when they built the Fenchurch Street to Southend railway, and I wish I had! I do know that Benfleet has some memorials to the battle and it’s believed that St. Mary’s Church was originally built to commemorate the victory, and the present church has a handsome replica of a Viking ship. Like you I long believed the battle was at the top of the hill and I was told that Bread and Cheese Hill was so named because it was a Saxon war cry (Bread and Cheese!) which would broadly translate to ‘broad and sharp’, presumably referring to their swords. That is a local myth, I suspect, though it’s more than possible that the Danish raiders were confronted on that hill and a skirmish fought there. But I’m sure the real battle was fought close to your parent’s restaurant!