In the year 855 the Great Heathen Army defeated the forces of Edmund, King of East Anglia. Refusing to renounce his Christian faith, Edmund died a martyr’s death shot full of arrows.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle places these events at a place that sounds like Hellesdon, although it is historically unlikely that Edmund’s final battle was fought in Norfolk.
Later, when the conquering Danes accepted the Christian faith, joint veneration of the martyr king was a force for unity. King Cnut, himself, endowing and visiting the saint’s shrine at Bury St. Edmund’s.
Along the Walsingham Way there are churches dedicated to Edmund in Norwich, Costessey, Taverham; and at Lyng, where there are remains of a St. Edmund’s Chapel. A St. Edmund’s Fair was held in Lyng 20th February, his feast day which is the anniversary of his death. A further legend has it that Edmund’s defeat and martyrdom took place in Lyng!