I have been wrestling with a problem of dating, which may be associated with the translation of Bede that I am using. (Leo Sherley-Price A History of the English Church and People, 1955, revised R. E. Latham 1968, Penguin Classics.) Yes I know, I know, I should get hold of something more recent. Anyway, the problem is with chronology for the years 633-4.
The text explicitly states (Book Two, Chapter 20) that Edwin was killed on 12 October 633 at the battle of Haethfelth. So far so good. Then, Book Three, Chapter 1, Bede states (in the above translation) that ‘next summer’ Osric was besieging Cadwalla, king of the Britons, and that Cadwalla destroyed Osric and his army. This must, therefore, have been the summer of 634.
Bede goes on to say that ‘After this, for a full year, Cadwalla ruled the Northumbrian provinces …’ Logically, this takes the time through the autumn of 634 and the winter/spring of 635. With me so far? This is the year that Bede famously says was discounted because of Cadwalla’s tyranny and the apostasy of Osric in Deira and Eanfrid in Bernicia. Eanfrid was killed by Cadwalla at some time during this year 634/5.
Back to Bede again: ‘after the death of his brother Eanfrid, [Oswald] mustered an army small in numbers but strong in the faith of Christ…’ defeating Cadwalla at Deniseburn (following a vision at Hefenfelth). Logically, if Bede is correct that Cadwalla ravaged Northumbria for a full year after the summer of 634, this would put Deniseburn/Hefenfelth in the summer of 635.
So why is it traditional to date the battle and Oswald’s accession to 634 (as on this sign at the site), or even 633?