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The Severn has also been a prominent factor in the nation’s history and has a rich heritage that remains under-appreciated. It was on an island in the Severn in 1016 that Cnut and Edmund settled their competing claims to the throne of England, and it was at the Severn that the English formally recognised Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as the Prince of Wales. From the Iron Age to the Second World War, regimes have built fortresses and other defences to ensure their control over the Severn and, throughout the Civil Wars, Royalists and Parliamentarians fought bitterly for possession of it. Other rivers have tidal bores, but none as remarkable as that of the Severn, from which bore-surfing has grown into a global sport.
Richard Hayman is an historian and archaeologist who has written widely on the history of Britain and the British landscape. Previous books include Trees, Woodlands and Western Civilization (2003) and he is co-author of Ironbridge: History & Guide (new ed 2008). He lives near Shrewsbury with his partner and their two sons.