My six year old son often asks me, when we walk up Canning Road, to tell him about the Viking battle of Blackstock Road.
"How do you know about that?" I said the other day.
"You told me."
OK. I did read something about that a few years ago and must have mentioned it to him once. So I took to researching – on the internet, you understand – where the story comes from.
The archived paper 'Perambulations in Islington' by Thomas Edlyne Tomlins (1858) can be found here:
http://www.archive.org/stream/yseldonperambula00toml/yseldonperambula00toml_djvu.txtIn this he mentions Danebottom several times, such as:"in writings so far back as the reign of Henry II. demon-strates that this name of Danebottom has peculiar reference to some of those encounters our Saxon ancestors had with the Danes.""some battle fought there in earlier times,perhaps so far back as the period of tlie Danish incursions, the memory of which, as I have ventured to suggest, have been tra-ditionally preserved in Danebottom, at Highbury Vale."There is no older source for this story but what Tomlins is saying, essentially, is that the Saxons held the bridge over the Hackney Brook, presumably near the Arsenal Tavern, and the Danes came down from the heights of Finsbury Park and tried to 'take' the Arsenal Tavern, er, I mean bridge. There was an almighty rumpus but luckily it took place on the site of the present police station and most of the miscreants were carted off, though not charged because no witnesses came forward.