A LOCAL historian has rubbished new research which suggests that the legendary Saint Edmund actually died in Maldon and was buried in nearby Hazeleigh.

Until last week, it was widely accepted that Saint Edmund, who was crowned King of Norfolk from Christmas Day 855, aged 14, then King of Suffolk and eventually King of the whole of the East Angles, died and was buried in Suffolk.

But a controversial new theory from University of the West of England linguistics expert Keith Briggs suggests that the notorious king and martyr was actually killed by the Vikings in Maldon in 869 – more than 100 years before the famous Battle of Maldon.

The suggestion, which is based on the language structure of the place names involved, casts doubts on historians’ beliefs that Haegelisdun – the recorded site where Saint Edmund was captured and killed during a battle between the Vikings and the East Anglians – was Hoxne or Bradfield St Clare in Suffolk, or Hellesdon in Norfolk.

Dr Briggs instead claims Haegelisdun is the name of a hill in Essex, known as Hailesdon, where Maldon now stands.

His research also suggests that the remains of Saint Edmund were not in fact buried at the abbey in Bury St Edmunds, which was later dedicated to him, and that he was likely put to rest in Hazeleigh.

The theory, which could drastically change the early history of Suffolk, and more specifically Bury St Edmunds, has caused a great deal of unrest, and Bury Society chairman Alan Jary said there was not yet enough evidence to support the claims.

That view has been endorsed by life-long Maldon historian and town councillor Stephen Nunn.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, this has created unrest among the people who live in the town named after the saint, Bury St Edmunds.

“Like the Bury experts, I am unconvinced by this latest theory. Much as I would like it to be true, I can find absolutely no connection with Maldon.

“The town has never been recorded as Haegelisdun and the name Maeldune appears in the written record just 40 or so years after Edmund’s death.

“Surely such an important event would have been handed down to us in local tales and at least one of our parish churches would have been dedicated to him?”