Warning: contains spoilers for The Last Kingdom season 5 finale.
Fans of The Last Kingdom may be guilty of confusing our Aethelreds, Aethelflaeds and Aethelhelms from time to time, but we are able to count. That’s why, when Uhtred’s grown-up children were introduced in season four, many were puzzled. We met Young Uhtred and his sister Stiorra, played respectively by Finn Elliott and Ruby Hartley, but where was Uhtred’s youngest son? There was no mention of the siblings’ younger brother, as if he’d never existed.
The boy’s existence was the sad reason for the death of Uhtred’s second wife Gisela, who died in childbirth in the opening episode of season three. Uhtred returned to Winchester victorious from battle, and Hild – who had attended the birth along with Beocca’s wife Thyra – broke the news that Gisela was gone but had given him a son.
In his grief, Uhtred ignored the child and had the Danish-born Gisela exhumed from her Christian grave and burned on a pyre according to Danish funeral rites. That act led to a confrontation with Brother Godwin, whom Uhtred accidentally killed – an act for which he was duly banished. In Uhtred’s absence, his children were taken into Alfred’s ‘care’ and baptised as Christians. Young Uhtred became a Christian cleric and moved to a monastery, while Stiorra remained true to her mother’s Danish roots while being raised in Aethelflaed’s palace. Of the youngest boy though, there was no news.
When the question was put to The Last Kingdom producers by the Radio Times in 2020, the answer was put simply down to overcrowding. “We really felt that we were introducing Uhtred’s two children, we also had Aelfwynn and Aethelstan who were caught up in all the action, and just that it would be one character too many,” said Nigel Marchant, adding “that’s not to say that we couldn’t see them in the future.”
In season five, Marchant proved as good as his word. In episode nine, Uhtred travels to the coast off the tidal island of Lindisfarne – a holy destination for Christians – where he meets Hild and explains that he’s there because he needs help. “No, no, he’s too young,” says Hild, to which Uhtred replies “Not his help.”
“His” identity remains concealed until the next episode, after Uhtred has regained his ancestral fortress. We see Hild walking along the beach at Bebbanburg with a young man, bringing him to meet “the new Lord of Bebbanburg”. Hild calls the boy Osbert, and tells him that she thinks the new Lord might be able to teach him something about his origins. “You think he may have once met my father?” Osbert asks. Hild laughs, “Yes. Something like that.”
Osbert is Gisela and Uhtred’s youngest child, and Lord Uhtred’s third son (his first with Saxon wife Mildrith died as an infant, and Brida’s pregnancy by Uhtred was sadly miscarried). Osbert’s name is his father’s original name, before it was replaced when he was rebaptised Uhtred after his older brother (the previous Uhtred, named after their father), was killed by Danes.
The return of Uhtred’s youngest son could answer Edward’s question of who will hold Bebbanburg’s lands after Uhtred’s death, and continue his family’s male bloodline after Brida cruelly castrated Young Uhtred earlier in season five. Osbert, played by actor Olly Rhodes, must have been taken by Hild and kept safe on the holy island, with no knowledge of his parentage. Now that his father has reclaimed the family’s land and made a safehold for his children, it’s time for the third boy to finally join the family, in readiness for the currently filming Netflix movie.
The Last Kingdom Season 5 is available to stream now on Netflix.